by: Natalie Clydesdale Posted: Feb 17, 2021 / 09:22 PM EST / Updated: Feb 17, 2021 / 09:34 PM EST
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Small restaurant owners pleaded their concerns about the federal minimum wage potentially being raised to Senator Mike Braun in a round table discussion Wednesday afternoon.
“Raising the minimum wage would put me out of business, it would definitely close me down,” said Tabitha Gray, the owner of Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders on Coliseum Blvd. “They’re going to take me and my small business out of business. So what you’re going to be left with is Burger King and Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.”
The Raise the Wage Act would gradually increase the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $15 per hour over five years. According to the National Restaurant Association, it would also eliminate the tip credit for tipped employees who earn $19-$25 per hour on average.
Senator Braun, who owned a business prior to being a senator, says he will be prominent in speaking up for business owners. He says he’s agrees with raising wages, but doesn’t think the decision should be made by the federal government.
“There are some of us in the Senate, that actually know what matters to business owners and sometimes it’s hard to see where their voices are heard,” said Senator Braun. “Federal Governments have broken institution. When you try to put a one size fits all across the country, it’s going to eliminate over a million jobs.”
Another business owner says this increase is the last thing his business needs after battling through the pandemic.
“We could see significant costs increase our industry when we can least afford it,” said Jimmy Schindler, the owner of Banditos. “During the pandemic, 20% of all restaurants in Indiana alone have closed permanently and to see a minimum wage hike on tipped employees would be devastating frankly.”
Schindler is not alone. A survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association revealed that 82% of restaurant owners say they have the same concerns.
Senator Braun described it as “adding insult to injury.”
The business owners at the discussion also augured this increase would result in them driving up consumer costs. Another survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association revealed that 98% of restaurant owners would also increase menu prices.
“The more I pay out the higher prices I have to charge, and I have great pizza, I have great grinders,” Gray said. “But is anybody going to pay me $50 for a large pizza? I don’t think so.”
In January, WANE 15 talked with an assistant professor of economics at Purdue Fort Wayne who said that small business owners having issues meeting payroll and staying open if that increase were to take effect would be short-term.
Her argument can be found here.