Local restaurants increase service fees in Bay and Walton Counties

Local News

BAY AND WALTON COUNTIES, Fla. (WMBB) – If you have dined in at some local restaurants lately, you may have noticed extra services fees on the receipt.

Many restaurants have added charges, in some cases as much as 20% of the total bill. Some of the restaurants have explanations, but for others, it is still a mystery.

Receipts following a sit-down meal can be pricey in a tourist destination like Panama City Beach. Now, some of those meals are getting more expensive.

“We’ve added a 20% service fee or commission to checks and orders, and our servers retain the vast majority of that,” Shades Bar and Grill Partner and Director of Operations Steven Sapp said.

17% of that service fee at Shades Bar and Grill in Walton County goes to servers, and the remaining amount goes to the hosts and bussers.

“We started December 27, so one week ago,” Sapp said.

When Shades customers sit down, they are made aware of this with a card placed on the table.

“I believe, and the industry believes, this is going to be a trend in Florida and other states with the rising costs that are occurring,” Sapp said. “We know of some other restaurant groups in the local area in Destin that are also implementing a very similar format.”

Diners said they have noticed extra charges on their bills at some Panama City Beach restaurants. On a Longboards receipt from last week, it shows a 3% tourist district fee, which regulars described as unusual.

It has some wondering if “Visit Panama City Beach” has something to do with it.

“Sometimes they say TDC fee, but that does not exist for us,” Visit Panama City Beach public relations manager Lacee Rudd said. “None of those dollar amounts from those fees come to the tourist.”

News 13 reached out to Longboards as well as Runaway Island, and other restaurants, which are adding similar fees to their checks. Some declined to comment, others could not be reached.

As for Shades, Sapp tells customers it helps offset the increase of costs.

“This is ultimately guaranteeing that our staff and employees are taken care of in the future,” Sapp said.

If a business is charging an extra fee, they usually post it somewhere in the restaurant. If you don’t see it posted, ask staff members.

It is also a good idea to look over your check carefully before paying the bill.

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