Mar 6, 2024 - News

D.C.'s big restaurant relief bill passes Council

Illustration of a fork and knife folded in a napkin made of a hundred dollar bill.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

D.C.'s big restaurant relief bill passed a final vote in the D.C. Council on Tuesday, and is headed to Mayor Muriel Bowser for review.

Why it matters: The bill, months in the making, is designed to help struggling restaurants and tackle a host of issues related to D.C.'s dining scene.

Driving the news: Two high-profile amendments related to service fees and Initiative 82.

  • The council narrowly voted to create a "safe harbor" for restaurants that clearly disclose service fees from lawsuits filed by private groups like Travelers United, which just launched a new suit against the group behind Proper 21 sports bar as the bill passed.
  • The council voted against a proposal to accelerate I-82's timeline and eliminate the tipped minimum wage next year versus in 2027, as planned. That means the tipped wages will next bump up from $8 to $10 in July.

Inside the room: The hot topic of service charges "took on a life of its own," per Council member Kenyan McDuffie, with a big chunk of time spent debating pros and cons — though the bill doesn't regulate them, it only protects restaurants from litigation.

The big picture: A bunch of less controversial regulations regarding fair food service delivery practices and lowering liquor insurance premiums are bundled in the bill to help restaurants bounce back.

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