Servers want $12 an hour. This restaurant owner says he can't afford it.

Tom “Dewey” Bramson, who owns restaurants and bars primarily in East Lansing, said he can’t afford the extra $1.6 million in wages he would have to pay annually under a new state minimum wage law and would have to consider cutting servers’ hours or increasing automation. (Bridge photo by Lindsay VanHulle)

Update: Snyder signs bills that weaken Michigan minimum wage, sick leave laws
Update: Group behind Michigan paid sick leave vows 2020 ballot drive if law gutted

The way he sees it, Tom “Dewey” Bramson doesn’t have a lot of good options if he has to hike what he pays servers at his Michigan restaurants from $3.52 to $12 an hour (before tips) over the next several years.

If Michigan’s new minimum-wage law takes effect in its current form, he says it would cost his company $1.6 million a year in wages alone — a cost he says he can’t absorb.

Bramson could pass it on to customers by, say, raising menu prices at Harrison Roadhouse, Rick’s American Cafe or The Riv in East Lansing. But customers are willing to pay only so much for a meal or a drink at a restaurant before they’ll go someplace else.

Or he could close all 10 bars and restaurants, but he said he has no intention of walking away after 33 years in the business. Instead, Bramson said, he likely will cut labor costs in other ways: By reducing servers’ hours, giving customers tablets to place their orders — or perhaps doing away with tipping.

Related: Paid sick leave law making some Michigan businesses feel queasy

“If I could charge somebody $5 for a beer right now, I would. But I can’t,” he said.

“I can’t raise prices 30 percent and then ask somebody to continue to tip. You know what I mean?” he said. “We can’t put all the onus on the guests.”

The restaurant industry has become a target of activists for its opposition to raising the state’s minimum wage for waitstaff and other workers who rely on tips.

While low-paid workers in all industries — including servers — will see a boost from a higher minimum wage law adopted last month in Michigan, criticism of the restaurant industry centers on its business model, in which waitstaff are paid far below minimum wage with the expectation they will earn the rest of their income in customer tips. (Restaurants must pay the difference, known as a tip credit, if they don’t.)

So-called “One Fair Wage” campaigns have entered the political fray across the country. Many servers support the idea, saying they can’t now consistently make ends meet by working one restaurant job. But others say they already earn more than $12 with tips on an average day and don’t want to see their earnings shrink.

Derik Jorgensen, who waits tables at Harrison Roadhouse in East Lansing, said he supports the idea of raising the hourly wage paid to servers. But he doesn’t think it needs to be the full Michigan minimum wage because he collects tips as part of his job. (Bridge photo by Lindsay VanHulle)

While chambers of commerce and other Michigan business groups oppose the idea of raising Michigan’s minimum wage on grounds that it would weaken the state’s economic competitiveness with neighbors, the state’s restaurant lobbying group says the law poses an “existential” threat to the industry.

That’s as restaurants — which tend to operate on slim profit margins — already face disruption from automation, technology and new methods of delivering food. (Think Uber Eats, and ordering kiosks at McDonald’s.)

A Michigan Restaurant Association survey of members revealed 80 percent say the fair-wage law would have a significant negative impact on business, including a solid majority that would raise menu prices and lay off staff if the law takes effect as is.

Supporters of One Fair Wage — led in Michigan and across the country by a New York-based group, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United — say restaurant owners are overstating the wage burden in an effort to get lawmakers to sabotage voter-backed minimum-wage hikes and preserve the two-tiered wage system.

Lawmakers, in fact, have done just that elsewhere. In Maine, and more recently in Washington, D.C., voters adopted ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage, including for tipped employees, only to have state and local legislators reinstate the tip credit.

And it is likely to happen here.

Rachel Burnett, a bartender in Detroit, said on average, she makes about $15 an hour with tips, but she has had times in the restaurant service industry where business was less consistent. She said she backs a campaign to raise the tipped minimum wage in Michigan to help servers and bartenders during slow times. (Courtesy photo)

The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature voted in September to adopt the One Fair Wage proposal, and a separate proposal to require employers to offer paid sick leave. By passing the voter initiatives and keeping them off the November ballot, lawmakers said publicly that they wanted to make it easier to change the initiative later. (Had it allowed voters to approve the measures in November, the Legislature would have needed a three-quarters vote to change it, rather than the simple majority they’ll need to change a law the Legislature itself passed.)

Supporters of the fair-wage initiative expect the Legislature to try to scale back the minimum-wage law in lame-duck session after the Nov. 6 election.

Ballot proponent Restaurant Opportunities Centers said the lower tipped wage, which it contends predominantly hurts women and minorities, perpetuates workplace sexual harassment, racism and poverty.

The group is a federal 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that reported total revenue of more than $9.8 million in 2016, according to its most recent federal IRS Form 990. It allows employers to become members, but asks those who join to “champion living wages, basic benefits (and) fair promotion policies,” according to its website.

Its ROC Action Inc. lobbying arm is a 501(c)4 group that does not have to disclose donors. ROC Action gave more than $687,000 in direct and in-kind contributions to the Michigan One Fair Wage campaign as of July, state campaign finance records show.

Rachel Burnett, a bartender at Krystal’s Korner on Detroit’s east side, said her current job gives her little reason to complain.

The job pays her, on average, $15 per hour with tips, more than she said she has earned at other jobs during a six-year career in restaurant service. Burnett said she can pay her bills, and the flexibility the job offers allows her to work around her two children’s school schedules. It wasn’t always that good.

Before this job, she said, a slow night, or construction traffic, or spending most of a shift attending to one large party rather than multiple smaller groups could determine whether she brought enough home to afford child care or buy gas for work the following week.

Pete Vargas, campaign manager for the Michigan One Fair Wage campaign, stands with supporters at the Michigan Capitol in September to advocate for a proposal to raise Michigan’s minimum wage. State legislators later adopted the proposal, and speculation continues that the Republican majority in the House and Senate will try to scale it back after the November election. (Bridge photo by Lindsay VanHulle)

“It would be hit or miss. I might make good money one day, and then I might not get any business for weeks,” Burnett said. “Being able to have that substantial, decent minimum wage, that can kind of make up for those times.”

'A 241 percent increase'

Under the law Michigan legislators adopted in September, the minimum hourly wage for workers who don’t rely on tips will increase from $9.25 this year to $10 on Jan. 1, 2019 and incrementally each year until it hits $12 on Jan. 1, 2022.

Starting in October 2022, the minimum wage will be adjusted annually for inflation.

The increase will be more gradual for employees who receive tips. By 2022, when the full minimum wage hits $12, tipped workers will receive 80 percent of that wage. It will equal the minimum wage for all other workers by 2024.

Even then, under the law as passed, tipped workers still will be allowed to collect tips from customers. The industry today uses a process known as the “tip credit” — when an employee doesn’t make enough in tips to reach the full minimum wage, his or her employer is required to pay the difference.

Seven states — Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Montana and Minnesota — require tipped employees to receive the full minimum wage before tips. One Fair Wage has launched state campaigns in Michigan and on the East Coast.

Michigan’s legislation, as adopted, equates to a 241 percent wage increase for restaurants, said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant Association, which placed a wage calculator on its website for its members to estimate the costs for their own business.

The Michigan Restaurant Association is leading its own ballot committee, Michigan Opportunity, that unsuccessfully sued to block the One Fair Wage proposal. The opposition effort had more than $281,000 on hand as of July, with at least $75,000 in contributions from the National Restaurant Association and thousands more from restaurant operators in state and outside Michigan.

“I’d love to know any industry that can absorb a 241 percent increase to their costs of doing business without having to make dramatic changes,” Winslow said. “I know it probably sounds like hyperbole, but there will be several restaurant closures if you went to a full $12.”

Raising the wage paid to servers and ending the tip credit could have unanticipated consequences for the industry, said Melissa Wilson, a principal at food service industry research firm Technomic Inc. in Chicago, which advises the restaurant industry.

Technomic’s chain restaurant clients have ruled out expansions in states that don’t have a separate tipped wage for future locations, she said.

Supporters of preserving a separate minimum wage for tipped workers gathered at the Capitol in September. State legislators later adopted the proposal, and speculation continues that the Republican majority in the House and Senate will try to scale it back after the November election. (Bridge photo by Lindsay VanHulle)

Winslow, of the MRA, said he appreciates the good intentions behind the proposal. But he and others in the industry said servers could wind up making less in the long run, for a variety of reasons — reduced hours; cutting the gratuity option from customers’ bills; and more automation, which could lead to servers handling more tables at once, which could lead to less human attention paid to tipping guests.

“If I had been among the folks framing this proposal, I think I would have been happy to go for $12 an hour, but I’m not sure that I would have tried to disrupt this custom that’s built up in the restaurant industry,” said Charles Ballard, an economist at Michigan State University. “We don’t really know how tipping behavior is going to respond, and I think there’s a big chance that it would” be less generous to workers.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers pushes back against the notion that the One Fair Wage campaign is designed to kill tipping.

“Let me be very clear: None of this is about eliminating tipping,” said Pete Vargas, campaign manager for Michigan One Fair Wage and a national director with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United who helps with workforce training related to economic mobility.

“All we’re really doing is eliminating the sub-minimum wage.”

Yet Joshua Chaisson, co-founder and vice president of Restaurant Workers of America, a separate group that claims to represent servers and advocates for keeping the tip credit, said Vargas’ initiative will perpetuate wage disparities among restaurant workers.

The argument effectively says that servers deserve the same base wage as people who work in the back of a restaurant, Chaisson said, plus 20 percent more in tips that cooks and dishwashers aren’t entitled to claim.

“I don’t think that that’s fair,” he said.

The costs to restaurants

The restaurants’ opposition to the wage law, they contend, comes down to basic math.

Labor is among a restaurant’s three largest costs, along with rent and food, industry insiders said. In Michigan, labor averages about a third of restaurants’ operating costs, Winslow said.

A restaurant also has to account for equipment, inspection and licensing fees, utilities and maintenance, as well as plan for longer-term upgrades.

Bramson, the East Lansing restaurant operator, said it costs his company $36,000 a year just to play music at his locations and $26,000 a year to maintain one parking lot.

“Those are expenses that nobody sees,” he said.

Bramson got his start in the business by working as a bouncer at an East Lansing nightclub in the 1980s, and later worked his way up to management.

He has been president of Equity-Vest Inc., a hospitality and property management company with 10 restaurants and bars in its portfolio, since 1996, and later bought the company. His locations, mostly in East Lansing, are well-known to Michigan State University students, alumni and fans. He also operates Nuthouse Sports Grill in downtown Lansing and a few others in Michigan.

“A lot of people see a lot of people (at) a restaurant on a Friday or a Saturday night and they think, ‘Man, they must be making a lot of money.’ They don’t see Tuesday lunch, Sunday dinner or anything else,” Bramson said. “They just see that they could pay $1 for a beer at the store and I’m asking them for $4, and think that we must be making a ton of money.”

Effects still unknown

The impact on the restaurant industry, though, is still speculative in Michigan. The state law isn’t scheduled to take effect until at least March, roughly 90 days after the current legislative session ends in December, and it’s unknown whether lawmakers will try to amend it before then.

Researchers have found positive and negative outcomes from raising the minimum wage in places where it has happened. The range of results is partly because so few people actually make the minimum wage, said Ballard, of MSU.

Low-wage employers are increasingly raising their starting wages. McDonald’s, for instance, pledged to raise its entry wages by $1 more than the local minimum wage at its locations. Target Corp. is now offering starting wages of $12 an hour, with a goal of $15 by 2020.

Ballard said he thinks Michigan and the nation could absorb a $12 minimum wage with only slight negative effects on employment, because the wage increases so far have been modest. Those effects would be more pronounced the higher the wage goes, Ballard said, though economists can’t say for certain how high is too high.

“We’re not saying $12 an hour up front. We’re saying over a period of time,” said Vargas, of Michigan One Fair Wage. “If they’re an employer that doesn’t feel that their labor is worth $1 more an hour now, I don’t know what to tell them.”

In places that have already raised the minimum wage, research has been mixed on how successful the policies are. One recent paper from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed wage hikes on the food service industry in Seattle and a handful of other American cities and found that a 10 percent raise in the minimum wage correlated with higher earnings, with no significant job losses.

“I’m not saying every business will be able to survive — the weaker ones probably won’t — but they will be replaced by stronger ones,” Michael Reich, one of the Berkeley researchers, told Bridge. “From a societal standpoint, if one restaurant is replaced by another, that’s not a negative effect, even if that former restaurant owner feels hurt by the minimum wage.”

His findings were contradicted by a separate study of Seattle’s minimum wage increase, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington. They looked at low-wage work in all industries, not limited to food service, and found that even though hourly wages increased, hours worked were cut and average earnings in 2016 fell by $125 per month.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, which advocates for policies to support vulnerable populations, said that more than 450,000 Michiganders would directly benefit from raising the minimum wage, and another 565,000 already earn more than what the minimum will be raised to, but their employers also would raise their wages, citing an analysis it requested from the Economic Policy Institute. The Michigan Association of United Ways has found that 40 percent of Michigan households can’t afford basic necessities, even as many of them are working.

“These are folks that, although they go to work every single day, they still — because their wages are so low — have to rely on food stamps,” Vargas said.

“We’re always trying to raise the floor for all workers,” he added, “because we know that the more money that workers make in this economy, the better the economy is.”

That sentiment has given rise not just to One Fair Wage, but also to the Fight for $15, through which fast-food workers, among others, advocate nationally for a higher wage and union representation.

Servers: Keep tipping intact

Restaurant Workers of America, the group that wants to keep the tip system for servers, formed this year after efforts to reinstate the tip credit were successful in Maine.

Chaisson, its cofounder and a bartender in Portland, Maine, said many of his group’s members are college-educated and working in the hospitality industry by choice. They understand the economics of the industry, he said, and their place in it.

Restaurant Workers of America is organized as a federal 501c4 organization, which is not required to disclose its donors. Its website notes that it accepts restaurant operators as members, along with employees. (BuzzFeed News and the Columbia Journalism Review have noted the group’s ties to the restaurant industry.) Chaisson told Bridge his group has not accepted any money from the National Restaurant Association.

Restaurant Workers of America says it is not opposed to a higher minimum wage, Chaisson said. Its primary focus is keeping the tip credit.

“Folks often say, ‘Well, you sound like someone who works for a restaurant owner or as a restaurant owner,’ but the reality is, is that the writing is on the wall for the entire industry,” Chaisson said.

On Saturdays, when MSU’s football team plays at home, Derik Jorgensen said he can make at least $15 an hour waiting tables at Harrison Roadhouse in East Lansing, once tips are included. He said he earns closer to $10 an hour on average in the fall, but business slows down in the summer months when college students leave town. Jorgensen said he will pick up odd jobs when his restaurant job alone is tight.

He said he would like to see Michigan increase the minimum wage for tipped employees, but that it doesn’t need to be the same wage paid to workers who don’t also earn tips.

“I don’t necessarily feel that it’s necessary for us to make that much,” said Jorgensen, who added that he participated in some recent Restaurant Workers of America events in Lansing and wants tipping to be maintained. “I can take those down weeks every once in awhile and eat less and go out less, but it would be a much more comfortable life if the wage was up just a little bit more.”

Winslow, of the Michigan Restaurant Association, said he would like legislators this fall to return to the 2014 version of the minimum wage law, with its inflationary increases and tip credit intact.

“The tip credit is so fundamental to restaurant economics,” he said. “To me, restoring that bipartisan 2014 deal is a good landing spot, and a fair one.”

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Thu, 10/18/2018 - 9:03am

Ok this dude owns 10 establishments but can't afford to pay a liveable minimum wage? Perhaps that's why he has 10 businesses making a living off paying crappy wages. No sympathy for you

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 3:38pm

You're clueless.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 4:45pm

Yes, she is. Everyone who never a long term successful business thinks a business owner is on vacation all the time and rolling in money.

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 12:31pm

kill all businessmen

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 9:27am

Michele, have you thought about how many people he employs? How many college students have worked at his establishments over the years to help fund their education and now have successful careers? In reality, the owner is the last person to be paid.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 9:24am

I would be willing to pay more for a meal if what I call the employment tax ( tipping ) were eliminated.
Restaurant meals, along with a few other service industries are among the few that require or intimidate customers to directly supplement worker wages.
Give the workers a living wage and eliminate the uncertainty of stable income for this non elite group of laborers.
If the customer believes the service was extraordinary let them choose to tip.
The argument put forth by “ Dewey” is spurious- maybe he should close all 10 and see what happens in the market?

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 9:50am

I understand this is not a simple black and white issue but many restaurant owners have been taking advantage of their employees for years by making the employees dependent on tips to get by. It may work for fancy restaurants where employees can get decent tips, but for most, tips hardly add up to a decent income. (even with this proposal, an increase to $12/hour equates to only $24,000/year). Not that long ago the typical tip was 10% of the cost of a meal. Over time it increased to 15%, then 18%, now it is 20%. That tells me that base wages have not been keeping up.
It doesn't make sense to say that this will put restaurants out of business. All restaurants will face the same pressure to raise menu prices so it seems this won't unfairly disadvantage one restaurant over another. How much would prices need to increase? A dollar or so on a mid-priced meal? That won't markedly reduce the number of customers.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 4:47pm

It disadvantages customers who can no longer afford to eat out.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 9:04pm

$1 per meal will make that difference? If the employees are given decent wages maybe they can afford to go out to eat themselves! That gives the owner more customers.
When I worked food service getting myself through college many years ago. It was customary to allow employees to have a meal for free during their shift. Nowadays employees have to pay. If they are lucky they get a small discount. Crazy.

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 7:26am

The primary reason that the Tip Percentage has gone up is because of the general economy and personal finances of the Client. When the economy is Roaring, like it is today, people give larger Tips.
Also, it is very expensive to open a restaurant, private or franchise. To open a New McDonalds today costs ~$2 Million dollars by the Franchisee, not the McDonald's Corporation.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:08am

Bramson: "I can’t raise prices 30 percent and then ask somebody to continue to tip." He won't have to. Many customers tip in order to fairly compensate workers who provide good service, but whose base pay is ~$3.50 an hour. If the pay is raised to $12 an hour, customers will stop tipping.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:09am

I disagree with the concept of a minimum wage. If anyone thinks they deserve a higher wage, we are all free to vote with our feet and find another job. If other jobs are unavailable due to our lack of education or training, then we need to look in the mirror and correct that. If the job gets filled by qualified people willing to work at the original wage, then the original wage was correctly set. If no one will work at the original wage, then the employer needs to either increase the wage, or figure out how to operate without workers.

Personally, I like the idea of filling out my own order on a kiosk or tablet, as there is less chance for error. And if a robot can assemble a printed circuit board, then surely it can cook anything at about 3/4 of the restaurants today, and deliver that food to the table.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:29pm

Found the guy who doesn't understand monopsony and is cool with exploitation of labor

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 3:42pm

Found the guy who is clueless as to what it takes to operate a restaurant. Get a clue please. By the time I am done paying everyone, fees, rent, and a load of other expenses, I clear $30k a year. That's it. If I had to pay everyone $12-15 per hour, I'd have to close. Knowing this will be the case, I closed my place early and got out of the business. I know I won't be able to survive it. So with that closing eight kids lost their jobs and I reinvested in the food truck business where I can make much more and do so employing just two to three other people.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 4:45pm

Do you want me to pity you because you can't operate a business that doesn't your employees a living wage? In this supposedly glorious job market, your old employees should easily be abe to find employment that compensates them fairly

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 7:28pm

Bones have you considered the possibility that not every job is even supposed to support a family of 4? Maybe some jobs are just supposed to be something for a college kid or retired guy to pick up some extra spending cash without the demands of full time employment and that's all? Why is it the business' responsibility to make a job into something it was never intended to do? Maybe that's why people are supposed to graduate, grow up and move onto a career? Is it the businesses' owner fault when they don't? I think this is called entitlement.

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 10:06am

Not wanting to be a wage slave is now an entitlement? Thinking that one job should be enough to survive on is an entitlement? Pack it in America, the vulture mentality has won

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 7:48pm

Since you speak so authoritatively about a 'living wage', will you describe what that entails and how you determined the amount it should be?

Without knowing what all a 'living wage' is expected to pay for I wonder how you can be so sure that $15/hour is the right amount and it won't need to be raised again and again. I wonder if there is any specific expectations an employer should have of those they are paying at or above a 'living wage'. Do you believe their is any minimum effort or performance that an employer is entitled to for that $15/hour? I raise these questions because you seem to see that only a certain set of people are 'entitled' and that raises concerns that an imbalance will be created undermining the system our country is built on, where we have freedom of choice in how to spend our money.

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 9:31am

Bones, I'm curious as to what business you own and how you determine pay for your employees. I think that would help people understand your knowledge and experience level.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 7:28pm

Bones have you considered the possibility that not every job is even supposed to support a family of 4? Maybe some jobs are just supposed to be something for a college kid or retired guy to pick up some extra spending cash without the demands of full time employment and that's all? Why is it the business' responsibility to make a job into something it was never intended to do? Maybe that's why people are supposed to graduate, grow up and move onto a career? Is it the businesses' owner fault when they don't? I think this is called entitlement.

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 12:09am

Serving and Bartending is a career under the current system. A career to be proud of.

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 8:30am

Pocket money would be nice.. do you realize the cost of higher education?
Or the fact that many people retire and find they cannot afford to live on Social Security wages.
People are no longer retiring from GM with full pensions and looking for a little pocket money. They are trying to eek out a living.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 4:50pm

Excellent, Todd. I love food trucks. Education, good decisions and persistence is the way out of poverty.

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 10:56am

So in other words, you operate a barely viable establishment that needs people to labor for you at less than a living wage for it to be worthwhile for you to stay in business. Your business is a failure. Just like the vast majority of Southern cotton plantations that couldn't adapt to the loss of their unpaid labor.

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 8:39am

"If anyone thinks they deserve a higher wage, we are all free to vote with our feet and find another job." True sometimes, but unrealistic in many instances. Case in point: I used to be an air traffic controllers. The United States was practically the sole employer of controllers; they options were to work for the FAA or enlist in the armed services. After a certain number of years, a controller - and any other professional - can't "vote with their feet" without taking a serious financial "hit". In this example, an FAA controller would take a major pay cut by enlisting, and a military controller would find themselves competing with younger job candidates who, let's be realistic, will have an advantage by virtue of their age, which counts for more than experience to many employers.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:41am

Every tipped server I ask tells me they make way more than $15 and hour. Consistently. When the tipped minimum wage goes up I will start tipping much less. When it hits $12 an hour I will never tip again. Minimum wage increases are inflationary. Within a year your $10 an hour is worth no more than the increased $12 an hour. Everyone has to raise prices to cover the cost.

Agnosticrat 2.0
Thu, 10/18/2018 - 2:17pm

So if you already are paying more than the cost of the meal by 15-20 percent then it would make sense that they could raise prices by that much and it will be a wash.
Good point!

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 9:21am

"every tipped server I ask...way more than $15/hour" - at fancy restaurants, perhaps. But are you seriously saying that a wait staff at your local Coney is making "way more" than $15/hour?

You Try It
Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:50am

I would recommend that this owner try to live on what he pays his servers. Servers live paycheck to paycheck, no savings and with multiple room mates.
Minimum wage is just that minimum to live on and pay your bills!

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 4:53pm

I recommend that non business owners put everything they own into a business, sign personal guarantees on loans so that if you fail the bank takes everything you own.

Agnosticrat 2.0
Fri, 10/19/2018 - 8:31am

Funny that if an employee doesn’t think the wage is sufficient they are invited to work elsewhere because there are so many other jobs out there, but if you close your doors they are never going to survive without you.
Owning a business is YOUR dream.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 11:12am

The idea of so many people that we can just raise wages for a target group of low paid employees without any consequence and further unintended add on consequences is baffling. A public service for Bridge is to get some interactive P & L s from some restaurants or retail businesses for their readers to watch these ramifications work through the business , a sort of Business for Dummies (or teachers, social workers, etc etc).

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 8:37am

Understand the raise in wages is across the board.
Believe it or not low wages aren’t only a concern of people in the restaurant industry. Besides all of you business owners git your Republican tax cut.... get trickling down!

Greg Olszta
Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:18pm

Mr. Bramson's argument, and I am sure that we will hear plenty more from other restaurateurs and their lobbyists in the coming months, is of course disseminated to give cover to the lame duck legislature when it returns and immediately backpedals to restore the 2014 minimum wage levels. That was the plan all along in denying voters the opportunity to adopt the One Fair Wage amendment. The GOP legislators will be declaring themselves heros for "saving" jobs in the food service industry when they restore the wage levels. Between now and then we will be hearing from plenty others like Mr. Bramson. This was democracy denied!

Kevin Grand
Thu, 10/18/2018 - 1:48pm

And what of the people behind this push?

Do THEY put into practice themselves what they want others to do?

Oh, say it isn't so!

Even Bernie himself is part of this problem!!!

I'm certain that Ms VanHulle can do a good in-depth piece for The Bridge on why the above is happening.

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 3:35pm

There should be no minimum wage at all. The market should decide, not government. I decided to get out of the food business as far as brick and mortar because with razor thin profit margins, I won't be able to operate after 2022. Got out while I could. If I had to pay $12-15 an hour to all employees, I'd go under quickly.

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 8:41am

With that attitude, I'm surprised you lasted as long as you did.

Doug L
Fri, 10/19/2018 - 9:20pm

I would be happy to see waiters and waitresses be paid a realistic wage.
Then I can stop tipping.
It's one or the other, not both.

Doctor Larry
Mon, 10/22/2018 - 1:36pm

Many economically advanced nations throughout the world either forbid or strongly discourage tipping at restaurants (e.g., France, Japan) yet they have lots of restaurants. How do you explain that?

Richard Cole
Mon, 10/22/2018 - 8:06pm

As one of the founders and original owners of the Harrison Roadhouse in 1981, I took a special interest in the story. And it got me thinking what an anachronistic concept it is to depend upon restaurant customers to pay the wages of restaurant employees. Maybe it’s time for a restaurant to adopt a no tipping policy and add an 18% service charge on the bill. That way, a $15 per hour wage for wait staff, bus staff, dishwashers — all restaurant staff — should be within reach. I never met this guy who my former partners apparently put in charge of the Roadhouse, but when I do I’ll let him know maybe it’s time for a little pro-worker creative thinking to get the old joint hopping again.

John Q. Public
Mon, 10/22/2018 - 11:25pm

People still tip a percentage of the cost of the food?!

I typically leave five bucks whether the check is for $10 or $100. The servers in diners think I'm a great tipper, and those in steak houses think I'm a cheapskate. Why a server covering five tables with an average check of $80 and 90 minutes in the restaurant ought to make $50 an hour escapes me. I waited tables plenty in my youth, and tips everywhere I worked were more a function of whether the server was a sociable attractive female than anything else, least of all the quality of service.

If each table in the above example tipped as I do, the server would still make $16 an hour--regardless of the cost of the food.

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 3:35am

Well, maybe the owner should quit the business. We have enough low-end restaurants with nothing going for them.
Seriously, if you can't pay decent wages, don't run a business.

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 12:28pm

awww poor greedy capitalists are upset they have to pay living wages.

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 9:23am

The minimum wage is, and always will be $0.

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 7:41pm

36000 a year to put music into his restaurants I'm glad my radios cheaper than that

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 7:42pm

36000 a year to put music into his restaurants I'm glad my radios cheaper than that

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 7:45pm

Wow 36000 a year to pipe music into his restaurant sure glad my radios cheaper than that

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 9:05am

If you can't afford to pay your workers a living wage, your business doesn't deserve survival.
If your business depends on underpaying employees in order to operate, you don't deserve to run a business.