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Class-Action Lawsuit Claims Top Los Angeles Restaurants Are Fixing Prices

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Melisse, Lucques, AOC, Trois Mec, and Animal are among those listed because of their 3% healthcare surcharge.

Josiah Citrin at Melisse, Santa Monica
Josiah Citrin at Melisse, Santa Monica
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Someone is finally fed up with the marginal 3% healthcare surcharge that some LA restaurants are adding to checks. A class-action lawsuit filed yesterday accuses several places, including Melisse, Lucques, Trois Mec, Animal, Son of a Gun, AOC, and Rustic Canyon, of raising their prices together and thereby violating antitrust lawsAccording to CBS News, Melisse's Josiah Citrin sent an email saying, "We decided it would be a good thing to do it as a group ... usually when lots of people do things it's easier to make change," with regards to the 3% surchage.

It seems unreasonable that a few establishments, even notable ones, would be able to affect the market as a whole based on their position (update: Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act does in fact note that price fixing can occur regardless of market share as a "per se" violation, but it's rarely argued since it's much easier to argue based on Section 2, which bases it on market share). It's arguable that it wouldn't amount to a classic price fix because the players don't have the ability to charge prices across the board. Even though the defendant restaurants are some of the most successful places in town (as regular fixtures of the Essential 38), their overall market share would be a tiny fraction of the entire LA restaurant industry.

Many patrons don't seem to mind the surcharge, which is clearly laid out on menus and listed as a separate line item on checks. The lawsuit argues Animal and Son of a Gun are complicit in the collusion despite not charging an actual 3% surcharge, simply because they "encourage other restaurants to raise their prices." That's a bit of an oddball accusation.

Republique, Bestia, Esters, Milo & Olive, and Cassia are among other restaurants in Los Angeles that add the 3% surcharge, which affords healthcare to all of their employees.


1314 7th Street, , CA 90401 (310) 393-6699 Visit Website


624 South La Brea Avenue, , CA 90036 (310) 362-6115 Visit Website

Trois Mec

716 North Highland Avenue, , CA 90038 (323) 484-8588 Visit Website


8700 West 3rd Street, , CA 90048 (310) 859-9859 Visit Website

Son of a Gun

8370 West 3rd Street, , CA 90048 (323) 782-9033 Visit Website


2121 East 7th Place, , CA 90021 (213) 514-5724 Visit Website


8474 Melrose Avenue, , CA 90069 (323) 655-6277 Visit Website