092508eli.jpgA new sign at the entrance to beloved Eli's fine food supermarket on the Upper East Side warns shoppers that “an energy surcharge of 1.8 percent will be added to every purchase.” One disgruntled customer kvetches to the Times that the store's prices “are so out of whack already I can’t believe he’s doing this. It’s a big joke.” The 'he' in that sentence would be owner Eli Zabar, who ya gotta love—his explanation of the surcharge is classic: "I’m making a statement here. The infrastructure that powers a supermarket is huge—the perishability, yada yada yada." But then, mid-interview, he decides the hell with it, the surcharge will now be voluntary and perhaps abandoned altogether! “That my staff have to be here to defend some philosophical position of the boss seems now, to me, wrong.”