There’s been yet another development in the Fight for Fifteen, this time coming to us from the Big Apple. With great fanfare, the Democrats in New York City (and in the state government as well) have been trying to outdo each other this election cycle by jacking up the minimum wage. Recent legislative moves brought the city to the point where they’ve had six minimum wage increases in two years. As you might imagine, this has been particularly tough on the restaurant and bar business. The city is quickly making some eateries essentially unprofitable unless they increase their menu prices to the point where they will likely just drive away customers anyway.
This has Heartland Brewery CEO Jon Bloostein raising the alarm to anyone who will listen. He’s describing the overall effect on his business as that of a “bomb dropping on the city.” And to say that in New York you’ve got to be pretty serious. (Fox Business Network)
“I’m taking it personally now,” Bloostein told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on “Varney & Co.” on Friday.
He said restaurant owners “can’t absorb” six minimum-wage increases in a three-year period.
“A bomb fell on the city in 2015,” he said. “I think Albany thinks because it’s New York City we can just add menu prices as high as we want – doesn’t work.”
In response, New York City restaurant owners are pushing for lawmakers to allow them to add a 5% surcharge to offset the cost and help prevent rising prices on the menus, Bloostein said.
Bloostein isn’t objecting to the idea of an increased minimum wage. He just needs the increases to stay somewhere close to other costs and not completely tank his business model. At this point, he’s not even lobbying to have the increased wage scaled back. He’s asking that merchants be allowed to add a 5% city surcharge onto the bill so they can make back some of the losses without having to increase their menu prices, likely scaring more customers off.
Unfortunately, due to New York City’s oppressive nanny state rules, he can’t even do that without getting the permission of City Hall. Needless to say, Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t in any hurry to hear his case or make such a call, so Bloostein is going to the press.
What the Mayor is probably trying to avoid is a situation similar to what happened in Seattle after their massive soda tax went into effect. Remember when Costco put these signs on cases of Gatorade to show just how much the city was costing consumers?
ARE YOU KIDDING?!?! Check out these prices at Costco now that the Soda and #SugarTax has taken affect in the Seattle area. 1.75 cents per fluid ounce. Pics @DevinSenaUI & @HaydenBedsole pic.twitter.com/RcsPY4e8L4
— Tim Williams (@realtimwilliams) January 6, 2018
Allowing restaurants to put such a surcharge on their customers’ bills would be a reminder of exactly who raised the menu prices and what the money was going toward. Even as overwhelmingly liberal as the city is, sooner or later the government is going to price them out of existence and just possibly convince New Yorkers to take a look at some other candidates when they go to the polls. But de Blasio just won another term in office handily, so it’s hard to be too sympathetic to diners facing higher prices when they go out to dinner. You keep voting these people back into office and you really do get what you deserve.