First, California’s minimum wage last increased on January 1, 2022. It will increase again on January 1, 2023, over two months from now, when it rises to $15.50 for all businesses, compared to $14 for employers. 25 or fewer employees and starting at $15 for employers with 26 or more employees. Certainly, this is a significant increase for small employers, if they were only paying minimum wage initially. An employer who paid more than the floor allowed by law would not face a large increase. (California’s minimum wage has long applied to tipped workers, rather than pay less than the federal minimum wage and those in many states, so it’s not a factor in the increase.)
Second, there is no need to explain why prices are rising 3.5%. The main reasons to do this are 1) you’re too cheap to print new menus with new prices or 2) you want to drive people crazy with a raise in minimum wage. Prices go up from time to time. People know it. In this case, if you spend $100 on a meal (which would be a lot at Sizzler), you’ll pay $3.50 more. You would pay $1.40 more on a check for $40. These aren’t big increases, but if you bother to separate them as their own line on the check and point to minimum wage as the reason, that’s a statement. A report of hostility to having to pay a minimum wage that begins to look like something livable, even if since $15.50 totals $32,240 for a year of full-time work, we are not talking about anything lavish here.
Third, what about this “family franchise” thing? The Murrieta Sizzler appears to be owned by family-owned BMW Management, but not in the mom-and-pop way the sign asks readers to imagine. BMW (named after its owners’ initials) had 23 Sizzlers in 2017, as well as a Richie’s Diner and joint ventures with Texas Roadhouse. BMW’s M is for Sally and Gary Myers. The W is for Sally’s father, Jack Williams, who already had a long history as the owner of the Sizzler franchise. Sally and Gary’s son, Bryce, has his own real estate company… which does real estate for his parents’ business. According to FranchiseHelp.com, Sizzler”Franchisees should have a net worth greater than $3 million and at least $750,000 available in liquid assets. In other words, the family that owns this Sizzler seems to be doing well, and you have to wonder what their percentage cut would look like from a typical check at their restaurants.
Still, while this Sizzler’s sign is a silly move, it’s not the worst from a restaurant owner in years. Check this one:
Note here that the starting salary of $16/hour is actually $13 plus benefits. Also, for New Jersey small business untipped employees, $13 isn’t much above the 2022 state minimum wage of $11.90 an hour. In large companies, $13 is the minimum wage. (That’s $5.13 an hour, before tips, for tipped workers.)
Or take this 2021 sign from a V Pizza franchise owner:
Restaurant owners and managers complaining that workers expected to be paid decently was a major theme in the first half of 2021, with a Las Vegas restaurant executive complaining about job applicants, “‘How much do you pay?’ this is one of the first questions that come out of their mouths. It seems that having to pay their employees remains a strong source of resentment for restaurateurs.
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