Letters to the Editor: Readers still aren’t buying Jon & Vinny’s ‘service fee’ explanation

Exterior of Jon & Vinny's in Los Angeles in 2015.
The exterior of Jon & Vinny’s Italian restaurant in Los Angeles in 2015.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: If I read your story right, the new language on customer bills at Jon & Vinny’s Italian restaurant in L.A. explaining the 18% service fee still may allow the money to be withheld from hourly workers.

By calling it a service charge rather than a tip, there’s no requirement that the money be remitted in full to non-managerial service staff. Is calling it a service charge sufficient to prove it’s not a tip?

Besides how wonky all that is, the second offense is in the timing. Communicating the unexpected charge after guests have ordered and eaten, or even after they’ve been seated, is too late.


A special experience indeed.

Lynn Balsamo, Santa Monica


To the editor: My cousin owned a bistro. He paid everyone a living wage, not just the minimum. Tips were split evenly, including among the chef and the dishwasher.

While dining with a group of seniors on fixed incomes recently at Jon & Vinny’s, we were shocked by the 18% service charge on the bill. We hadn’t counted on that. I asked the waiter whether the service charge on the bill was a gratuity. We were told it wasn’t.

We resented the extra cost, as it came as a surprise. For us, the final bill was unaffordable.

Restaurateurs who need the money should just raise their prices. Their patrons with adequate means will still come.

Judith Amdur, Los Angeles



To the editor: It’s time for consumer protection legislation for at least the hospitality, restaurant, ticketing and cable TV industries.

Mandatory fees, charges and costs of any description — with the possible exception of local, state and federal taxes — that are imposed on consumers should be built into the stated or advertised price.

Disclosure at billing is inadequate and misrepresents the true cost of the product or service at the time the consumer is comparing prices.

David Avirom, Whittier


To the editor: Some restaurant owners are at best clueless and at worst devious. There is no excuse for a “service fee” tacked on to the bill. Why is this bait-and-switch allowed?

The prices on the menu for the dishes should be the price on the final bill, just as it is when we buy almost anything else. Raise the prices to cover expenses. The customer’s $42 pork chop on the menu should not end up costing $50, and customers clearly don’t like the hidden fee.


Good for the employees for bringing suit and calling attention to this practice — which should, after all, be illegal.

Alexa Smith Maxwell, Los Angeles