PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s newly implemented sugary drink tax is already causing widespread grumbling from consumers and merchants. The tax may have brought an end to a longstanding beverage tradition in restaurants and diners.
There’s a new rule at the Dining Car and Market along Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia: no more free soda refills. Owner Nancy Morozin says it’s just too expensive.
“We were paying about $71 a box for our soda product,” Morozin said, “and now we are paying $135 a box.”
That’s double the cost.
“I was angry, perplexed. I don’t understand,” Morozin said. “I feel like the City of Philadelphia’s business is to put me out of business.”
John Longstreet, CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, says the owners of operations that feature self-serve fountains are thinking about reconfiguring the setup.
“So that the fountain drinks are now dispensed from behind the line by the counter workers rather than the guest being able to get their own drinks,” Longstreet said.
Northeast Philly Restaurant supply store owner Tom Furia says the first week of January saw a 50 percent drop-off in sugar beverage case sales over the same period last year. In his case, Furia says, location has a lot to do with it.
“One and a half miles in Bensalem, they can go over the border and buy beverages and not pay the tax,” he said. “So that’s a definite impact for anybody that’s on the borders.”
All this turmoil over a tax that’s just a couple of weeks old.