At the end of 2015, just before New York State hiked minimum wages, we warned that the price of food was about to surge as restaurant managers passed through rising wages to end clients. Meanwhile, some restaurants, worried about losing their clients, opted to instead eliminate tipping entirely – that primary source of incremental wages for thousands of food industry workers – while hiking base prices by as much as 30%, with the money going toward higher payroll. Worst of all, many restaurants simply laid off much of their staff who suddenly became unaffordable.
In short, there would be less money for everyone, even as food prices surged, disappointing everyone in the process.
Now, a little over two years later, just as so many libertarians predicted would happen, the NYC restaurant financial situation has turned from merely painful to grotesquely dire for the vast majority of managers as a result of record mandatory wage hikes over the past couple of years, in addition to rising rent, food and other costs.
The result: restaurant owners are demanding that the socialist administration of Bill de Blasio and other City Hall lawmakers allow them to levy a surcharge on all diners to cover their bloated expenses. Without the surcharge, which could range from 3% to 5% – or more – many restaurant owners said they will go out of business.
As MarketWatch reports, a group representing more than 100 restaurateurs – among them such exclusive venues as Nobu, Tao, Smith & Wollensky, Tribeca Grill and Daniel – drafted a giant letter that was displayed on the steps of City Hall Wednesday. The group claims to have weathered nine mandated wage increases over the past several years. Next up: a minimum wage hike in 2019, to $15.