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Melrose Umbrella Co.’s Accidental 40 Percent Service Charge Ignites LA Social Media

Plus, restaurant support for striking actors and writers, LA In A Minute creator’s podcast, and more

The interior at Melrose Umbrella Co. in Los Angeles, California.
Melrose Umbrella Co.
Elizabeth Daniels
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Last week, an accidental service charge at Melrose Umbrella Co. reignited anger surrounding restaurant service fees on social media. A diner posted, then deleted, their receipt on Reddit that showed a 40 percent service charge, which the restaurant says was a clerical error. But the backlash is well underway.

Melrose Umbrella Co. and Umbrella Hospitality Group owners Austin Melrose and Zachary Patterson told Eater this was a massive mistake. The point-of-sale system produced the error and the server failed to catch it before presenting the bill to the guest. To make amends, Melrose and Patterson also refunded the entire meal and invited them back in for dinner. And while the original post was deleted on Reddit, an endless stream of fiery comments remains.

Unaware of the POS error, Redditors lashed out at Melrose Umbrella Co. Some suggested reporting this to the California attorney general, called this type of service model deceitful, and even called into question the standard cake-cutting fee or corkage fee. The incident raises questions about how this can happen, but the timing is unfortunate for the nearly 10-year-old restaurant. Last month, former servers at Jon & Vinny’s filed a class-action lawsuit regarding the 18 percent service fee last month, putting service fees at the top of the minds of many LA diners.

A New York City-based Jamaican chef in town

On July 18 and 19, chef DeVonn Francis is popping up at Kismet’s summer dinner series. Los Angeles Times deputy food editor Betty Hallock recently attended a dinner party to sample his food and profiled the Jamaican chef.

LA food podcasts worth listening to

Los Angeles’s new BRK THT BRD podcast features Sunday Gravy chef Sol Bashirian. The podcasts is hosted by Comfort LA chef Jeremy McBryde and LA influencer Asia White.

LA In A Minute creator Evan Lovett has a fairly new podcast. Last week, he invited Grub With Greg’s Greg Simms and Eddie Sanchez Hungry In LA where the topic is everything restaurants. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

WGA and SAG-AFTRA support at LA restaurants

Two more LA restaurants are showing support for the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Mirabelle Wine Bar has an all-day happy hour with $10 wines, $5 beer, or $40 bottles. Just show union cards to get the deal.

After extending a 20 percent discount to striking writers, the Federal Bar will offer the same to card-carrying SAG-AFTRA members. The North Hollywood spot also recently renovated its outdoor patio for summer.

A Prohibition cocktail menu at Morton’s

On July 21, Morton’s Burbank and Woodland Hills are shifting gears to the Prohibition Era with four cocktails and dishes to fit the period. Tickets are $99 per person and include cocktails called the Cat’s Pajamas or the Golden Age spritz with Stoli Elit, apples, honey, and mint. Oysters Rockefeller, filet mignon finger sandwiches, and bacon deviled eggs are for dinner. Tickets for here.

Melrose Umbrella Co.

7465 Melrose Avenue, , CA 90046 (323) 951-0709 Visit Website