Some Restaurants Are Charging 'Kitchen Appreciation Fees' And People Are Furious

People think tipping culture has gotten a little out of hand.

On the left is a photo of a receipt; on the right, a woman is holding a receipt with a baffled expression l i g h t p o e t via Shutterstock / u/Brambroco via Reddit

As the U.S. continues to struggle with a nebulous job market and high turnover rates, many food businesses have taken a broader scope at how to best accommodate their employees. For a restaurant located in Saint Petersburg, Florida, kitchen appreciation fees are one way they ensure the well-being of their staff members — and another way to anger customers.

One person was shocked to find that a restaurant charged them a kitchen appreciation fee.

In the “r/mildyinfuriating” subreddit, a forum for people to share moments that have left a twinge of anger in their hearts, one agitated customer uploaded a photo of their restaurant bill with a hand-drawn circle around a line that read, “Kitchen Appreciation Fee (3.25%) $1.30.” The user captioned the photo, saying, “Is this a thing now?”


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restaurant receipt showing kitchen appreciation feePhoto: Reddit

Unlike what some people might think, these types of surcharges have been around well before the pandemic’s unfortunate arrival; however, businesses have been implementing them more in recent years.


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What is a kitchen appreciation fee?

A kitchen appreciation fee is an additional (and typically optional) charge allocated towards kitchen workers and back-of-house (BOH) employees who don’t get tipped for their services.

In a way, it’s a restaurateur's attempt at closing the wage gap disparity between BOH and front-of-house (FOH) staff members. So, why is there a wage disparity? In short, front-end workers, such as hosts, servers, bartenders, bussers, and the like, are considered to be a part of the tipping pool; therefore, their wages are significantly smaller than that of their fellow back-end counterparts who get paid a flat hourly rate sans earned gratuity.

Of course, this may not apply to all restaurants depending on the region.


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While kitchen appreciation fees help back-end workers sustain a livable wage, many restaurant-goers aren’t too sold on the idea.

The Reddit user’s post was flooded with disapproving comments regarding the surcharge listed on the receipt. “I would not appreciate that,” quipped one user.

“These restaurants are going to price themselves out of business!” wrote another. “Tip calculation based on gross amount including sales tax and their bs ‘kitchen appreciation’ fee. Most places are up-charging 3.5 to 5% for card payments as well. No one likes being nickel and dimed, especially with food and drink prices now.” 

Another user added, “What if the food sucked? Should you be obligated to pay a fee for something like that?” 


“And businesses wonder why people tip less and less,” someone replied. 

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Many speculated that adding a kitchen appreciation fee is merely a performative gesture meant to incentivize employee retention.

People also argued that businesses should really just be paying their employees more rather than pushing the responsibility onto the customer.

Most people expressed that the issue boiled down to their experiences with restaurants that weren’t transparent about what they were paying for prior to receiving the bill.


Tipping culture has certainly evolved over the years, and different restaurants have different approaches to how they accommodate their employees. However, maintaining a level of transparency towards paying customers is equally important – that is, if you want to keep your business running.

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Xiomara Demarchi is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango’s news and entertainment team. Keep up with them on Instagram.