Famed Las Vegas eatery asking diners to pay toward staff insurance

The newly installed surcharge will go to the portion left to the employees to pay

A Las Vegas restaurant is one of the first in Nevada to institute an optional surcharge to its bills that will go toward employees' health insurance, according to a report.

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Lotus of Siam, a James Beard Foundation award-winning Thai restaurant chain, is adding the surcharge option as a way to help staff pay health insurance, Nevada Public Radio reported. A spokesman for the Lotus of Siam said the restaurant chain is the first in Nevada to institute the charge.

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Manager Penny Chutima, whose mother, Saipin Chutima, is the chef and co-owner, told KNPR's "State of Nevada" the famed eatery pays 60 percent of its employees' insurance costs, while the workers have to cough up the rest.

The newly installed surcharge will go to the portion left to the employees to pay, she said, adding that she first got the idea after learning about some California restaurants' similar practices.

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"If I added a 3 percent markup onto my menu, it's considered what? – income," she said, "So when the government sees… when you file at the end of the year – it's income tax. If I do a 3 percent, which is a 3 percent employee-only, it’s non-taxable."

A spokesperson for the restaurant did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.

"My whole 3 percent is actually to show that restaurants don't do what everyone assumes," she noted. "We're not billionaires. We're not millionaires."

Chutima admitted Lotus of Siam's prominence and history made it easier for it to spearhead the practice, according to the report.

"We've been in business for 20 years," she said. "All of our employees have actually been with us for a very long time."