Upscale grill chain Hillstone was charging diners a two percent surcharge on their bills to offset state mandates — an illegal addition that was dropped after news came out, according to a report by NBC New York. New York's minimum wage mandate started its crawl upward at the beginning of this year — now the tipped minimum wage is $7.50, and the non-tipped minimum is $9. The operators of the chain initially told NBC that they added the surcharge because they didn't want to hide increased operational costs in menu prices. It's unclear whether Hillstone's menu prices will go up now that the surcharge has been dropped.
It's not the first time the chain has tried to flout the rules in New York. The company originally called its New York locations Houston's — the same name as the group's other grill restaurants across the country. But the operators changed the name in 2008 to Hillstone — in what many called an attempted to avoid posting calorie counts for restaurants with more than 12 locations. The city eventually took the company to court over the matter.