Restaurants Prepare for Minimum Wage Increase

Dollar Increase in Employee Wages Effective Saturday

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Many employees throughout Minnesota are anxiously awaiting that extra cash in their paychecks.

But, the changing law has stirred up many questions and changes in the restaurant business.

“When you’re in the restaurant business, the last thing you want to do is raise your prices,” said Brian Daugherty, President of Grandma’s Restaurant Company.

But a changing state law is leaving some Duluth restaurants with no choice.

“And we’re going to hope that Minnesotans don’t mind paying a little bit more when going out and dining,” Daugherty added.

The Minnesota minimum wage will increase from $8 per hour to $9 per hour, effective Saturday.

A law that Representative Jennifer Schultz fully supports.

“This is the first step to really help working families in Minnesota,” Schultz said.

She says research does, too.

“People are actually willing to pay a few cents more for every dish they order to make sure that employees are paid well and can afford food for their own family,” Schultz explained.

Alyssa Amys, a waitress at The Duluth Grill and single mother, depends heavily on tips.

“I mean, it can make a difference in what kind of week you have even, you know, if you can pay your rent in a week or not,” Amys explained.

Amys says that extra dollar an hour will really carry weight financially.

“Especially on slower days or in the slower season, we won’t have to rely so much on tips, it’ll have a little bit more stability for us,” she said.

Managers at the Duluth Grill believe the new law is necessary.

“When you pay your people right, they’ll treat you right,” said Jeff Petcoff, General Manager at Duluth Grill.

But admit it will certainly be an adjustment.

“A dollar increase in wage definitely affects you,” Petcoff added.

The President of Grandma’s says his restaurants, which are staffed with over 50 percent of tipped employees, could even turn to technology to save on labor in the future.

“Things like ordering off i-pads or handheld server devices,” Daugherty explained. “So you dedicate a section to it and all you would do is have food runners instead of food servers, eliminating maybe two or three servers.”

Meaning this change may be the first of many in the restaurant business.

The Duluth Grill plans to evaluate business over the next few months before upping any prices on their menu.

Grandma’s, however, anticipated the changing law and increased their prices between one and two percent before the summer.

In August of 2016, the minimum wage will again increase to $9.50 an hour.

Minimum wage will remain $9.50 through 2017, then starting in January of 2018 it will rise with inflation each year, capped at 2.5 percent.

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