Are your surcharges souring your customers’ dining experience?
During a weekend trip to Acadiana and several dining experiences there and back, we were caught off guard by the practice of surcharge options for credit card payments. At two different locations, we were hit with a four percent surcharge on our bill – one we were advised ahead of time as it was posted on the menu. At the second location, it was posted on the entrance door, however, we missed it. Neither provided a receipt that indicated the charge, which is a requirement.
Here are a few things to remember if you are considering this or doing it at present to be compliant.
While adding surcharges to the cost of a purchase is legal in Louisiana, each credit card brand has its own rules that merchants must adhere to. Our partners at Heartland Payment Systems have a thorough article to review here.
Some of the guidelines include:
Be careful in changing processors without understanding the exposure you could have to your existing processor under liquidated damages for a breech or early termination of an existing processor agreement. And, remember to read your merchant agreement with Visa, MasterCard and Amex. There are some that require you to provide advance notice to the processor before instituting these charges.
Our payment system partner Heartland has a new POS system that can help you with compliant processing of any surcharge, and avoid those on debit transactions.
And, accept that you have the risk of a guest choosing to frequent another restaurant for one that doesn’t use surcharging and instead includes its total operating costs in the menu price.
Download the State of the Industry report on Restaurant.org.
The report is free to members and $349 nonmembers.
During the purchase process, login with your previously established email address/password or select Create Account.
Use the same email on your membership to ensure it syncs with your existing member record.
The Create Account feature will also show if the email has an existing login.
The login for Restaurant.org is different than LRA.org. If you are still receiving the non-member rate after creating an account, please contact Membership@Restaurant.org and request for your account to be linked to your company’s membership.
Metairie, La.--The Louisiana Restaurant Association Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation announces rate reductions effective March 1, 2023.
The LRA SIF offers workers’ compensation coverage specializing in the hospitality industry and the rate reduction applies primarily to businesses in this sector focused on restaurants. Management believes this rate reduction should be attractive to our restaurant members in these challenging economic times.
“In this highly competitive marketplace, the LRA SIF Board of Trustees is pleased to approve and implement this rate reduction which will assist members of the Fund with managing their overall cost of operations,” said Stan Harris, President and CEO, LRA SIF.
If you have restaurant clients who may benefit from this rate reduction, please contact the LRA Workers’ Comp program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off 2023
Since its inception in 2008, the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off (LASCO) has been at the top of the list of professional culinary competitions. Competing chefs line the stage in this live cooking, fast paced, culinary throw down. Chefs from all corners of the state come together in one arena to compete for the winning crown. In addition to earning the title of King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood, the winner goes on to represent the state at a variety of events including the Great American Seafood Cook-Off. Winning the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off has been known as a "culinary catapult" amongst industry members. With past winners going on to open their own "brick and mortar" establishments, hosting their own culinary television shows, gracing the covers of magazines across the nation and more!
Join us on Tuesday, June 27th, 2023 at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, Louisiana to find out who our next culinary champion will be.
Instructions for Applicants:
• Entrants must be an executive chef for an acclaimed, free-standing Louisiana restaurant.
Restaurants associated with a luxury country club, resort or hotel are also eligible.
• Restaurant must be a member of Louisiana Restaurant Association.
• Institutional chefs, i.e., food service distributors, hospitals, culinary school instructors,
caterers or corporate chefs for chains having 10 or more restaurants are not eligible.
• Each chef will be responsible for plating five (5) entrées for judges with Louisiana seafood
as the main protein.
• Each chef will receive a $250 stipend to assist with ingredient costs, travel, and time
away from his/her restaurant. In addition to the stipend, a hotel room will be offered
for each competing chef for two nights.
• There are twelve (12) spots available and entry forms will be accepted until end of the
business day of Monday, May 15, 2023.
• All submissions will be reviewed and selected by a committee of the Louisiana Seafood
Promotion and Marketing Board. Contestants will be notified of their eligibility by
Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
Click Below for ATC Guide!
We are thrilled to announce that registration for the 2023 Public Affairs Conference is now open. The conference is June 19-21 at the JW Marriott in Washington, DC.
Here’s what you need to know about the flow of the conference, as well as key information when registering.
Public Affairs Conference Structure
Monday, June 19: “Welcome to Washington” evening reception.
Tuesday: Public Affairs Conference starts in the afternoon. The NRAEF Restaurants Advance Leadership Awards will be held Tuesday evening. We plan to reserve time Tuesday morning to hold a meeting with SRA executives, but there will be no formal CSRA meetings given the proximity to the CSRA Summer Conference.
Wednesday: Public Affairs Conference content in the morning. Hill visits rest of the day. Capitol Hill reception that evening.
Thursday: No conference programming. Optional day for additional Hill visits.
How to Register: Go to https://na.eventscloud.com/ereg/index.php?eventid=709670&
Early Bird Discount: Conference attendees who register before March 31 will receive 50% off conference pricing. We expect we will sell out – register early.
Click Here for the Conference Schedule
AT A GLANCE
RESTAURANT PERFORMANCE INDEX: ▼ -0.8%
RESTAURANT JOBS: ▲ +62,100
RESTAURANT SALES: ▲ +0.9%
Note: Figures reflect November data and represent change from previous month
MONTH IN REVIEW
Consumers ramped up their spending in restaurants in November—potentially at the expense of other retailers. Eating and drinking place sales rose 0.9% in November, while consumer spending in non-restaurant retail sectors fell 0.8%.
One reason why consumers can sustain elevated levels of spending even in the face of decades-high inflation is the significant amount of savings that households have on their balance sheets. Another somewhat more concerning reason is the increased use of credit cards—many of which were safely stowed away during the early months of the pandemic.
BY THE NUMBERS
54% of restaurant operators reporting higher same-store sales in November.
30 - Number of states with restaurant employment below pre-pandemic levels.
24% of restaurant operators reporting higher customer traffic in November.
THE DEEP DIVE
Consumers boosted their restaurant spending
Elevated consumer spending is being supported by excess household savings and the increased use of credit cards.
Restaurant workforce recovery continued
November marked the 23rd consecutive month of employment growth, but the industry was still 462,000 jobs below pre-pandemic levels.
Average wholesale food prices jumped 3.1%
November represented the 18th increase in the last 23 months; 15 of those monthly gains topped 1%.
Menu prices rose 8.5% during the last 12 months
Fullservice prices rose 9% during the last 12 months—well above the 6.7% gain in prices for limited-service meals and snacks.
Scholarship Fund to aid students for 13th consecutive year
Metairie, LA— The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) is now accepting applications for its annual LRAEF Scholars Program for students entering college or already working in the industry to pursue careers in the culinary and hospitality industries. The application deadline is February 3, 2023. Scholarship recipients will be announced in March 2023.
The LRAEF Scholars Program was created in 2009 to provide financial support for individuals interested in furthering their education to support a career in the culinary, hospitality, or related industries. With the 2023 grants, the LRAEF will have awarded approximately $700,000 since the program’s inception.
“The dollars that fund our LRAEF Scholars are generated by LRA members and chapters from around Louisiana who encourage interested students to apply,” noted LRAEF President & CEO Stan Harris. “We encourage LRA members to share the information with their employees who may be attending or returning to college in culinary arts or restaurant management.”
Applicants must be currently enrolled, or accepted in a bachelor and/or associate degree program in order to pursue or further a career in the restaurant or hospitality industry. Courses of study can include, but are not limited to culinary, hospitality, tourism, business and management programs. Scholarship awards are merit-based and will vary based on available funds.
The following scholarships will be awarded in 2023:
The online application can be accessed at www.LRAEF.org and must be completed by February 3, 2023.
“The LRAEF Scholars program is a key part of our mission of education and promotion of career opportunities, especially in the culinary and hospitality industries,” said LRAEF Executive Director Jonathan Baynham. “These industries provide great training for young people, as well as a path to economic advancement.”
The LRAEF, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, exists to enhance the industry’s service to the public through education, promotion of career opportunities and community engagement. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Jonathan Baynham at email@example.com.
The LRAEF is grateful to its annual partners: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Auto-Chlor System, Acme Oyster House and Ecolab.
ProStart is a registered trademark of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
ProStart is a two-year, culinary management program for high school juniors and seniors with a curriculum designed to teach students culinary techniques as well as restaurant management skills. ProStart is in 56 high schools statewide and more than 2,000 students participate in the program.
As the philanthropic foundation of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, the LRA Education Foundation exists to enhance the industry’s service to the public through education, community engagement and promotion of career opportunities.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association is one of the largest business organizations in the state, representing restaurant operations and related businesses.
MYTH: Retailers pocketed the savings from the Durbin Amendment
FACT: RETAIL IS SO COMPETITIVE THAT REDUCING BUSINESS COSTS ALWAYS RESULTS IN CONSUMER SAVINGS
MYTH: If this bill passes, credit card rewards will disappear
FACT: CREDIT CARD REWARDS ARE OFFERED AROUND THE WORLD EVEN THOUGH THEIR FEES ARE MUCH LOWER
MYTH: This bill will hurt small banks and credit unions.
FACT: THE BILL DOES NOT APPLY AT ALL TO SMALL BANKS AND CREDIT UNIONS – THEY WON’T HAVE TO DO A THING
MYTH: The bill will hurt card security.
FACT: THE BILL WILL IMPROVE CARD SECURITY AND FIX A VULNERABILITY BY PLUGGING THE LOOPHOLE THAT TODAY COULD ALLOW CHINA UNION PAY TO ENTER THE U.S. MARKET
MYTH: Swipe fees are needed to cover rising fraud costs.
FACT: RETAILERS ALREADY PAY FOR A MAJORITY OF FRAUD LOSSES AND THE FEES ARE MANY MULTIPLES OF TOTAL FRAUD LOSSES
MYTH: The bill isn’t workable and would lead to a massive reissuance of cards.
FACT: THE SAME THING HAPPENS WITH THE SAME BANKS ON DEBIT CARDS AND NONE OF THAT REQUIRED REISSUING CARDS
ONE THING IS CLEAR FROM ALL OF THIS – EVERY ONE OF THE CLAIMS MADE BY THE CARD INDUSTRY TO CRITICIZE THE CREDIT CARD COMPETITION ACT IS WRONG
9 Common Zelle Scams to Watch Out For
Because Zelle is an easy way to send and receive money, it's also an easy way for hackers to steal it. Here’s how to protect yourself from Zelle scams.
The pandemic normalized contactless payments, and digital wallet options have popped up everywhere, including places that used to only accept cash—like farm stands, garage sales and even your babysitter. While this is incredibly convenient, it also leads to unsuspecting people becoming victims of scams, and wherever we turn, there seems to be another one--cash app scams, online scams, Venmo scams, Facebook Marketplace scams and now, Zelle scams.
“Over 100 million people use Zelle to transfer nearly $500 billion annually, which is a staggering amount of money,” says Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO of Chargebacks911. “So, naturally, when you have that many people transferring that much wealth, it’s going to attract the attention of hackers, criminals and cyberthieves.”
To help you stay safe, we’ve identified the most common Zelle scams you might encounter, as well as provided information on what to do if you accidentally fall for one. And remember: Scammers are sneaky, but if something seems off about a monetary transaction, it probably is.
What are some common Zelle scams to look out for?
The good news is that Zelle has top-tier security protocols, says Adam Levin, host of the “What the Hack with Adam Levin” podcast. The bad news? Scammers are creative and convincing, and once you send money, you have little recourse to recoup it. “Zelle’s main vulnerability is that payments are instant and irreversible,” explains Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate. “People love getting paid quickly—like, if I’m reimbursing a friend for my share of a meal—and fraudsters exploit this vulnerability.”
If you lose your phone and have the Zelle app, a criminal can initiate transfers from your account, but in the majority of cases, “Zelle scams boil down to trickery,” Contos points out. “Most of the time, Zelle scams involve social engineering a victim into transferring money to the criminal’s account.” The same is often true of scams involving Apple Pay and Google Pay.
These are the most common Zelle scams:
This is probably the most common scam, according to experts, and it has several forms. A scammer will impersonate a friend or family member and say they have an emergency and need money right away. This urgent request may come in an email, text message, direct message on a social media site or even a phone call.
Other times, a criminal will impersonate a legitimate company, organization or government agency and request a payment from you via Zelle. “They could claim that you owe them money for a past due charge, that your water bill is late and the service will be stopped if you don’t pay immediately, that you were short on your taxes, or that you failed to pay a traffic fine and a warrant will be issued for your arrest,” says Contos. “They could also claim to be a charity, a family member who is stranded and in desperate need of help, or use any other con that will pull at your heartstrings.” FYI, be aware of these scam phone numbers.
Catfishing or “romance” scams are also increasing in frequency. In fact, Joe Troyer, CEO of ReviewGrower, says they’re the most common Zelle scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “people sent $547 million to online romance scammers last year,” and “in the past five years, people have reported losing a staggering $1.3 billion to romance scams, more than any other FTC fraud category.”
“It all begins with a phony dating profile on one of the many popular social media sites or apps,” Troyer says. “People exchange hundreds of texts with the fraudsters, who are charming and can make people fall in love with them, and then they start asking for money or presents, often requesting cash through Zelle.”
“In this scam, scammers send emails or text messages that appear to be from a participating financial institution, asking users to click on a link or open an attachment,” explains Daniel Chan, Chief Technology Officer of Marketplace Fairness. “If users do this, they may download malware that can steal their personal information.”
The FBI warns about these phishing scams that “lure you in and get you to take the bait,” noting that any ploy that leads a victim to giving a scammer access to their Zelle account is extra risky. That’s because Zelle payments are fast and irreversible and were designed only to be used between people who know and trust each other.
Fake invoice scam
With this type of scam, scammers send emails or text messages that appear to be from a business that the user does business with. “The email or message will instruct the user to click on a link to view an invoice,” Chan says. “If the user clicks on the link, they’ll be taken to a website that looks like the business’s website. However, this website is a scam site, and if the user enters their personal information, they will give the scammers access to their account.”
The lottery scam can be used for any prize. In this scam, emails or text messages appear to be from a lottery company or a company offering a prize of some sort. The email or message will ask the user to click on a link to claim their prize and enter their Zelle account to send the “lottery winnings.” Like the fake invoice scam, if the user clicks on the link, they will be taken to a website that looks like the lottery company’s website, and if the user enters their personal information, they will give the scammers access to their account.
Paul Bischoff, a privacy advocate at Comparitech, warns against clicking on links or attachments in unsolicited emails or texts, because they could install malware on your device. “You’re tricked into installing malware,” Bischoff says, “and an attacker could hijack your device and send themselves money from your Zelle app.”
And that’s not all. “More severe malware could hijack banking apps like Zelle and send money directly from your account,” Bischoff adds. “Other malware might just wait for you to log in to your bank account via a web browser so it can steal your password and send it to the attacker. Another strain of malware might redirect you to a phishing site when you try to access your bank’s website or Zelle, which then steals your password and other info.”
Jim Murphy, Director of Fraud Management North America at D4t4, also warns against the goods-and-services scam. “This happens when you shop online and pay using Zelle and never receive what you paid for,” Murphy says. “The item is usually listed at a discount but only if it’s purchased within a limited time window.”
As Hamerstone warns, be wary of companies or individuals with products that are priced low or are hard to find—and who then push you to pay via Zelle.
Emergency phone scam
“Another thing to watch out for is someone asking to use your phone,” Hamerstone warns. “There have been cases where someone will fake an emergency, ask to use a stranger’s phone and then quickly send a payment to themselves.”
Business account scam
A new kind of scam has been popping up on resale sites like Facebook Marketplace. If you list an expensive item and have a very interested buyer, make sure it’s legit. The Better Business Bureau has warned of fake “buyers” who pretend to pay for an item, then trick you into sending them money back.
After the scammer tells you they want an item, you receive an email that looks like it’s from Zelle, saying the “buyer” paid with a business account and to access the payment, you must also upgrade to a Zelle business account—for $300. The scammer will generously add the $300 onto the “payment” they sent you, as long as you promise to refund them after you upgrade. The “buyer” will use fake emails and screenshots to make it look like they’ve paid you. But when you Zelle the $300 back, you realize the payments were fake, and you’ve just lost your money.
To avoid getting scammed, always check for payments through your Zelle app. Never rely on screenshots or emails as proof, beware of buyers offering more than you listed the item for and don’t agree to refund a payment.
2022 LRA Awards
Metairie, LA – The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) announced its 2022 Industry Awards—including the Restaurateurs of the Year, which is the LRA’s most prestigious award. Also, five LRA members were inducted into the LRA’s Hall of Fame, which recognizes their lifetime of impact and achievements in the industry. The Associate Member of the Year recognizes an industry supplier that is committed to improving the association and industry. The LRA Advocates of the Year award recognizes elected officials or individuals who’ve engaged in legislation, regulation, or policy efforts to create a better operating environment for LRA members. The LRA Awards Dinner was held at Juban’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge, Monday, November 7, 2022.
The Restaurateurs of the Year: Emery Whalen and Chef Brian Landry of QED Hospitality
The two own the food and beverage management company, which operates in boutique hotels such as the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans. Among the local establishments are Jack Rose Restaurant, the Bayou Bar, the Hot Tin Bar and the Silver Whistle Café. In Nashville at the Thompson Hotel, they operate LA Jackson, the Marsh House and Kilbrew. Most recently, they open The Kitchen Table at the James B. Beam Distilling Co. in Clermont, Kentucky and have plans to expand the food and beverage concepts on the eighth-generation distillery’s campus.
“To be recognized by the LRA for what we’ve accomplished with our company and partnership, is truly an honor,” said Whalen, CEO of QED Hospitality. “It makes us work harder to serve the industry and our amazing team. The last two years have been particularly challenging and it’s been the LRA advocating and providing the necessary information that helped us through the pandemic.”
Five industry leaders were inducted into the LRA’s Hall of Fame. Cindy Brennan Davis and Randy Stein of Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter, who own and manage the restaurant respectively have been operating for over forty years in the challenging New Orleans French Quarter. Additionally, long-term Mr. B’s Executive Chef, the late Michelle McRaney who worked with Davis and Stein for 25 years is also inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Also inducted was Chef Susan Spicer, who currently owns Rosedale Restaurant in Mid-City New Orleans. For decades, Chef Spicer has served her unique culinary style at her restaurants Bayona in the French Quarter, Rosedale in Mid City and Mondo in the Louis Armstrong International Airport. During her lengthy career she has mentored and trained numerous new chefs and culinary talent encouraging them to launch their own operations to fulfill their dreams.
Finally, Frank Randol of the former Randol’s Restaurant in Lafayette was inducted into the Hall of Fame. A former LRA State Director, for 50 years, Randol’s Restaurant was known worldwide for its cuisine and their dancehall that featured live zydeco music seven nights a week. Mr. Randol had been an active advocate on behalf of the Louisiana seafood and crawfish industry, and traveled the world promoting the Cajun culture of the Acadiana region helping to build Lafayette as its own destination for visitors.
The Associate Member of the Year is the Jason Jones, Region Vice President of Sales for Sysco. As an industry partner, Jones serves on the LRA Board of Directors and is the 2023 Chair-Elect of the LRA Education Foundation.
The Advocates of the Year are the Honorable Patrick Page Cortez, Senate President and the Honorable Clay Schexnayder, Speaker of the House. These two legislators have worked together to lead the two bodies – the Senate and the House – in a measured and thoughtful way to accomplish budgetary decisions that recognize the importance of the tourism and restaurant industries.
“The great thing about working with Page and Clay is that they have both worked in the restaurant industry,” said Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO. “Page was a fine dining server who worked his way through college and Clay started out in his teens as a busboy and kitchen assistant to the chef. It certainly makes a difference when the leadership can relate to the LRA members.”
A new award was created this year—LRA ICON. This award recognizes an establishment that has truly encapsulated the spirit of hospitality. Dating to the days of prohibition and still serving their famed Hurricane cocktail every day, Pat O’Brien’s was named the first LRA ICON. Shelly Waguespack, third generation owner accepted the award.
Employers Warned to Beware of Third Parties Promoting Improper Employee Retention Credit Claims
WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service today warned employers to be wary of third parties who are advising them to claim the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) when they may not qualify. Some third parties are taking improper positions related to taxpayer eligibility for and computation of the credit.
These third parties often charge large upfront fees or a fee that is contingent on the amount of the refund and may not inform taxpayers that wage deductions claimed on the business’ federal income tax return must be reduced by the amount of the credit.
If the business filed an income tax return deducting qualified wages before it filed an employment tax return claiming the credit, the business should file an amended income tax return to correct any overstated wage deduction.
Businesses are encouraged to be cautious of advertised schemes and direct solicitations promising tax savings that are too good to be true. Taxpayers are always responsible for the information reported on their tax returns. Improperly claiming the ERC could result in taxpayers being required to repay the credit along with penalties and interest.
What is the ERC?
The ERC is a refundable tax credit designed for businesses who continued paying employees while shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic or had significant declines in gross receipts from March 13, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021. Eligible taxpayers can claim the ERC on an original or amended employment tax return for a period within those dates.
To be eligible for the ERC, employers must have:
To report tax-related illegal activities relating to ERC claims, submit Form 3949-A, Information Referral. You should also report instances of fraud and IRS-related phishing attempts to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
Go to IRS.gov to learn more about eligibility requirements and how to claim the Employee Retention Credit :
Proceeds benefit the LRA Education Foundation and supports culinary arts in Baton Rouge area high schools
Metairie, La. – The Louisiana Restaurant Association Greater Baton Rouge Chapter will host its inaugural Oktoberfest presented by Mockler Beverage Company and Anheuser-Busch, Thursday, October 13, 2022 from 6-9 p.m. at Pointe Marie, 14200 River Road in Baton Rouge. The event will feature German-inspired cuisine from area restaurants and beers from local breweries, live music by The Chris Leblanc Band, live auction and games. Attendees must be 21 years or older to attend.
“We are pleased to offer our community a new event filled with familiar Oktoberfest fun,” said Jeff Conaway, LRA GBR Chapter President. “This is a fundraising event for a cause that is near and dear to our members – Louisiana ProStart. Our area has 19 high school culinary arts and restaurant management programs designed to attract young people to rewarding careers in our restaurants.”
Annually, the LRA GBR Chapter raises funds through two events. In the Spring, the GBR Chapter hosts a Golf Tournament which yields $60,000 for the LRA Education Foundation, which administers ProStart in Baton Rouge and across the state—61 programs in total.
LRA member restaurants participating and menu items are:
Attendees will also enjoy a complimentary beer stein in which to sample:
In addition, there will be a live auction for attendees to bid on a dine around package which includes: gift cards to 25 area restaurants; a tailgate package from Mockler Beverage Company and Superior Grill; a chef’s table for 10 people with wine from L’Auberge Baton Rouge; and a Chef’s Table for 6 people at Ruffino’s. The event features a German-style costume contest, a stein holding contest and a barrel roll for attendees to participate for a chance to win great prizes.
Tickets are $50 per person in advance. VIP tickets are available for $75 per person and includes a VIP area with open bar and a complimentary beer stein by City Group Hospitality.
PURCHASE TICKETS HERE
Sponsors are: Mockler Beverage Company and Anheuser-Busch, Ecolab, Louisiana Seafood, Louisiana Travel, L’Auberge, City Group Hospitality, First Horizon Bank, Repcon, Inc. and Country Pleasin’ Sausage.
For more information, contact Britney Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org or (225) 240-7189.
National Restaurant Association asks for relief for Economic Injury Disaster Loan recipients
The National Restaurant Association on Monday sent a letter to U.S. Small Business Administration administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman asking for relief options for small restaurant operators who received Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
The EIDL program was created in March 2020 to provide a boost to small businesses that do not have strong banking relationships, and therefore might have had difficulty getting a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The loans had a 3.75% interest rate and a 30-year maturity.
As of August 2022, the program had distributed four million loans totaling $380 billion, and $800 million was remaining in the subsidy.
“As we know all too well, 90,000 restaurants closed due to COVID-19. Many of the restaurants still open today — particularly the 177,000 that were unable to receive a Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant — face an uncertain future,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for Public Affairs at the NRA, in a statement.
“An inflexible EIDL repayment process will likely trigger a second wave of closures. Restaurants, their employees, their customers and the communities served will be forever changed if these small businesses begin to fail.”
There was an automatic 30-month deferral period for payments, but that window is closing and interest debt has been accruing. The NRA is asking the SBA to eliminate the accrued interest debt, and to lower interest rates to 1%, which is the interest rate on PPP loans.
The NRA is also asking for “good borrower” relief for hard-hit industries, including restaurants, which would encourage good borrowers to establish a repayment plan and make required payments for 10 years, after which the SBA would eliminate the remaining 20 years of EIDL payments.
In August, the NRA released a survey showing that fewer than 25% of restaurant operators with a loan about to come due would be able to make the scheduled principal and interest payments.
The NRA’s letter to the SBA can be read in full here.
By Attorneys, Kelly McCall and Michelle Anderson Fisher & Phillips
Credit card swipe fees have been a thorn in the side of businesses and consumers alike. Businesses, including restaurants, pay credit card networks (such as Visa, AMEX and Mastercard) to allow them to accept credit card payments for purchases. Some businesses choose to pass this fee on to the consumers – a surcharge. Are these surcharges legal? If so, how should your restaurant protect itself while utilizing credit card surcharges?
What is a credit card surcharge?
A credit card surcharge is a way for businesses to have their customers who pay with a credit card cover the processing costs for accepting those credit card transactions. These surcharges typically range from 1.5 to 4 percent of the transaction amount. Credit card surcharges are not the same as convenience fees.
Convenience fees are charges passed on to customers for the privilege of paying for a product or service using an alternative payment method that is not standard for the business. For example, a business that traditionally accepts cash or checks but also offers credit card payments or the use of banking apps (PayPal, Zelle, Venmo) for convenience, might charge an additional fee for that convenience. Another example of a convenience fee is a restaurant offers curbside/take-out or delivery, it charges a convenience fee for these services, that it does not charge for in-person dining. The convenience fee is charged not for using a credit card, but for the privilege of accessing the services for take-out or delivery.
Is it legal?
A United States Supreme Court ruling in 2017 protected surcharges as a form of free speech from merchants. That does not, however, limit states from imposing restrictions. There are at least ten states that prohibit surcharges (and some convenience fees). Louisiana is not presently one of those states.
Businesses can also require a minimum purchase amount when a credit card is used, under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The minimums cannot be more than $10, and the minimum cannot be set higher than what other merchants in the same card network use.
Rules for credit card surcharges
There are rules for businesses to follow when it comes to credit card surcharges. If your restaurant is using credit card surcharges, then you must do the following:
· Check with your credit card network for any requirements or restrictions
· If doing business outside of Louisiana, check state law
· Clearly disclose the fact that there is a surcharge before the transaction
· Display the credit card surcharge on the receipt
· Keep surcharges below 4% of the transaction, or the amount of the fees the merchant pays to the credit card companies, whichever is less
Keep in mind, surcharges are only allowed for credit card purchases – not debit card or preloaded gift card transactions.
Should you use a surcharge?
Accepting credit cards costs restaurants more in comparison to cash. Processing fees and expenses like card readers and point-of-sale systems quickly add up, especially for small business owners. Consumers, however, are becoming overrun with fees. In some instances fees are costing almost as much as the meal itself. Businesses should evaluate the pros and cons and weigh that small profit against the potential profit loss from turning away some customers due to the surcharges. This is particularly true if other establishments in your local area are not including surcharges for accepting credit cards. Evaluate whether there is another way to cover the costs through pricing of your products and services versus having the additional charge on the bill. As with many things in business, just because you can is not necessarily the same answer as whether you should.
For more information contact the authors at
Kmccall@fisherphillips.com or Manderson@fisherphillips.com
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.