Atlanta is home to a Waffle House that adds a 20 percent security surcharge to each customer’s check in order to pay for an on-site guard.
The 24-hour Waffle House is located in Underground Atlanta, a downtown shopping district in a reportedly high crime area. As one of the few area locations that remain open overnight, the restaurant often deals with unruly groups of people heading home from the local club scene.
According to CBS News, the Waffle House employs off-duty officers from the Atlanta Police Department to maintain general safety for its customers and employees. The cost of having a guard from 4pm to 7am each day costs the location $160,000 annually.
Waffle House Vice President Pat Warner explained:
“We’re are excited about being in downtown Atlanta and investing in the Underground. We want to ensure the safety of our employees and customers. In an effort to be proactive we are being upfront and adding a 20 percent surcharge to help offset the cost of private security.”
According to Fox News, employees have seen a positive change in crowd behavior since the 20 percent security charge went into effect in December. Sunshine Payne, a waitress at the Waffle House, says the only downside for employees is a reduction in the tips they receive from customers frustrated with the additional fee:
“I work night shift, so clubs, drunk people fighting all kinds of stuff — it’s kind of good they got police in there. Money-wise no, but safety-wise, yes.”
An article by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that the Atlanta Waffle House is currently the only one in the chain that employs on-site security. The restaurant has signs posted informing customers of the charge and checks also include the disclaimer.
Kelly Hornbuckle, director of marketing and communications for the Georgia Restaurant Association supports Waffle House in its decision to add the fee:
“The Georgia Restaurant Association supports doing whatever is prudent to ensure the security of our most valuable assets — our customers and employees. The GRA also supports the individual right of any restaurant to charge whatever it deems necessary and appropriate, especially where safety is concerned.”
Would you be willing to eat at a Waffle House that adds a 20 percent security surcharge to your bill?