Wage hike spurs fear, changes for restaurants

The Buffalo News has a terrific piece in today’s paper examining the ways restaurateurs are preparing for the significant worker wage increase coming into effect next year. Tipped worker wages are set to rise by 50 percent, from $5.00 an hour all the way to $7, come January 1st. That’s squeezing already tight profit margins and forcing management to cut hours, raise prices and consider more upcharges.

From The Buffalo News: “Betty’s is a long-established neighborhood favorite on Virginia Street in Buffalo. In anticipation of the new wage law, it has increased prices by between 50 cents and $1.50 per item, and will probably do it again in a few months. The strategy is to soften the blow with two smaller, separate increases, said Carole Simon, a Betty’s co-owner.

The price increase would have been steeper, but the restaurant tried to avoid that by cutting costs elsewhere. It has altered its hours to cut down on payroll costs, opening a half-hour later and closing a half-hour earlier. It has removed two popular but time-consuming dishes from the menu – the jibarito plantain sandwich and the spinach potato pancakes. And it has pared dishes down to their basic elements, listing them with upcharges for extras. That way, customers have the option of ordering the basic eggs, home fries and toast for $5.50, or they can upgrade to vegan sausage and gluten-free bread if they’re willing to pay more.”

Remember this when advocates for a $15 an hour minimum wage for all workers say The Business Council and other business groups are wrong when we predict wage increases will negatively impact the economy and cost jobs.

Learn more about our fight against a $15 an hour minimum wage by visiting www.minimumwagerealitycheck.com.