Black Flannel Operations

Kitchen Appreciation Fee

Black Flannel implemented a 4% kitchen appreciation fee added to all checks in the early fall of 2021. Most guests are glad to pay this fee as part of our effort to pay a higher than livable wage to our kitchen staff. On occasion, there are guests who don't agree with or understand why we do this. We are always more than happy to engage in respectful dialog any time someone has questions. We welcome to opportunity to present our reasoning.

Why charge this fee?

We opened in July 2020, a few months after the start of the pandemic. During the first full year of operations, we were restricted to 50% operating capacity by the state. Restaurants that had been operating before COVID were eligible for hundreds of thousands (sometimes over $1mil) in COVID relief funding from state and federal sources. Because Black Flannel was not open prior to the start of the pandemic (a requirement for these programs), we did not qualify for these sources of funding. Many other restaurants used their COVID-relief funding to expand operations, renovate & upgrade their facilities, and most importantly, subsidize their payroll.

Add to this, the fact that cost of food (along with costs in other supply chains) skyrocketed during COVID.  Most restaurants were forced to raise prices to offset costs.

In the fall of 2021, we engaged in research to find the best and most cost effective way to pay our kitchen staff better than industry standard wages while saving our guests money.

But how to keep menu prices lower without significantly raising our menu prices and still be able to pay employees a higher base wage?  The answer to this was the key to recruiting and employee retention.

Enter the  4% kitchen appreciation fee. We found through research that many restaurants across the country implemented this kind of fee to great success – some as high as 12%.  We calculated the lowest fee that would allow us to supplement employee base wage without substantially raising menu prices. The resulting 4% kitchen appreciation fee led to higher wages, lower menu prices, and lower meals and rooms taxes paid by guests.

The bottom line is that a kitchen appreciation fee saves customers an average of 10% over higher menu prices & taxes. We feel this is a fair approach but if a guest is uncomfortable with this fee, we will remove it from their bill. 

We have found close to 99% of our guests agree with this approach without question. For those who question it, once we explain the reasoning, guest agreement is virtually 100%.

Please feel free to reach out to us at if you have questions, comments, or feedback.