Pacific Concept’s El Camino Cantina South Bank under fire from Brisbane diners for sneaky charges

A beloved Mexican restaurant has suffered a huge backlash after new charges were introduced every day of the week and for large groups.

A Brisbane diner was visiting El Camino Cantina in South Bank last week when they got a rude shock after seeing a sneaky new detail in the fine print at the bottom of the menu.

Diners get a five percent service charge six days a week Monday through Saturday, which doubles to 10 percent on Sundays and 15 percent on holidays.

There is an additional “discretionary service fee” of 10 percent for groups of 10 or more, meaning they would miss out on 25 percent if they were dining on a public holiday.

“Extra service charge every day of the week,” the furious diner wrote alongside a photo of the menu on Reddit.

Diners will now pay more for tacos, burritos, margaritas and other Mexican fanfare at El Camino Cantina (diners pictured)


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The new rates come in addition to the small fee of up to 1.5 percent for bills paid for credit and debit cards.

The post has since gone viral with more than 1,300 comments as debate raged over whether the fees were fair.

Many were shocked by the service charge and pledged to boycott El Camino Cantina, which is located in 12 locations in Australia and New Zealand.

That’s such a BS, service charges should be nothing. Include them in your price and stop cheating customers!’ one person smoked.

Another added: ‘People should give one star ratings and document this practice as the reason why. It’s f*****g dodgy and doesn’t pass the pub test.’

Hospitality workers claimed it was common.

El Camino Cantina lists the new surcharges in small print at the bottom of the menu

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The diner was scanning the menu at El Camino Cantina in South Bank (pictured) when they got a rude shock?

“I’ve worked in a few places that do this, and everyone will waive the fee if you ask. It’s basically because as a server you’re serving such a big table, you’re pretty much occupied with just that table all night, which means you can’t serve the rest of your section,” they noted.

Another employee added: ‘As someone who works in fine dining, hospo service charges are very common for large tables, done in restaurants such as hellenika, greca, yoko and agnes.

El Camino Cantina has 11 locations in Sydney and Queensland, along with one in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Pacific Concepts, which operates restaurants in El Camino Cantina, defended the new surcharges, citing rising inflation and increases in the minimum wage.

“Service charges are common in the Australian hospitality industry and cover a variety of costs businesses incur, including penalty interest on certain days and increased operating costs at certain times,” a spokesperson said.

In addition, recent rising inflation and minimum wage increases have impacted our business, which continues to be impacted by Covid-19-induced hospitality issues. We are completely transparent about the service costs, which are stated on our menus, websites and receipts.’

Pacific Concepts also operates the Bavarian Beer Cafe, which came under fire last month after a diner on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast noted that a $5.35 industrial service charge had been added to their bill.

Diners are now plagued with a five percent service charge six days a week Monday to Saturday

“Our business continues to be impacted by hospitality issues caused by Covid-19,” a company spokesperson said at the time.

“The additional burden of rising inflation and wage costs led to our difficult decision to put service charges on the menu in all our restaurants for an interim period.

The company also operates Fratelli Fresh, Munich Brauhaus, Winghaus, Bar Patron and The Argyle.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission noted that companies can mislead customers by displaying a price as a total cost when there are additional costs.

“A simple way to avoid misleading consumers is to display an all-inclusive price with the lowest surcharge that the consumer cannot avoid,” the watchdog said.


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