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Dec 22, 2008 3:33 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Restaurants will have to list prices for specials

Dec 22, 2008 3:33 PM

Restaurants must disclose the prices of their daily specials when they the list them, according to a county bill that was signed into law this week by County Executive Steve Levy. The law takes effect in about three months.

Mr. Levy commented that “if you have a right to know the price of food in a supermarket, you should have the same right when you’re ordering a meal in a restaurant.” Legislator Lynne Nowick of St. James authored the measure that Mr. Levy signed Tuesday, December 23, at Oscar’s of St. James restaurant and bar.

According to the text of the law, all restaurants in Suffolk County will have to “give their patrons adequate notice of the prices of all food items offered for sale, including those items known as ‘daily specials.’” They can either include the price of specials on the regular menu or “on a printed daily specials page” or otherwise “posted in a manner and location so the price” would be “readily observable by patrons.”

The county’s Department of Consumer Affairs will enforce the law, which will take effect 90 days after it is filed with the New York secretary of state.

Legislator Nowick attended the signing ceremony. “Too often,” she said, “a diner will order a special thinking the price should be more attractive than the regular menu. Many consumers are embarrassed to ask the price and are often shocked when the bill arrives. This is just disclosure to the patron and fair to all.”

Mr. Levy said the law will provide consumers with a “right to know” when dining. It “will ensure that there is greater consistency for restaurants throughout the county when it comes to informing patrons,” he said.

Restaurant owners will face an unappetizing penalty for non-compliance: from $50 for a first violation to $500 for repeat offenses.

Ms. Nowick said the measure doesn’t “take the right away of a restaurant to charge double or triple” for a special “but they must inform the public” about it.

The authors wrote in the bill that “certain restaurants in Suffolk County do not recognize this ‘right to know’ when it comes to their policy for so-called ‘daily specials.’” These do not appear on the regular menu, and restaurants “in many cases fail to voluntarily apprise their customers how much these specials cost.”

KARL GROSSMAN

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Is this a joke? I have never heard of anything so stupid in my life. What a waste of time and resources.

Honestly, if you are that tight with money, and you don't see a price on a special board and order it without asking, it's your own damn fault if it's over your budget.

To claim people are too embarrassed to ask how much something costs leads me to believe that these people can't afford to eat out anyway.

Just one more word from someone working in the 'business' for ...more
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Dec 23, 08 1:19 PM
By way of a friendly reply to RealLocal - I have been to restaurants where the the specials were twice the price of anything in a similar category on the menu. With no printed prices for specials and some servers acting annoyed if asked to name the price for each of several specials, (and sometimes not even knowing the prices when asked and instead replying, let me check and I'll get back to you.), it seems reasonable for there to be some low key way to let diners know what a special will ...more
By Sag (53), Sag harbor on Dec 23, 08 3:11 PM
I have been in the situation where the unmarked special was al ot more expensive than anything on the menu. I paid it...I never returned.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Dec 24, 08 2:02 PM
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