Seattle Restaurants Flourish Following the $15 Minimum Wage Increase
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Many cities have been considering raising the minimum wage for restaurant employees to $15 an hour. Seattle implemented an overall minimum wage increase to $15 that went into effect on April 1. Since then, some restaurant owners were skeptical about the raise because they said it would cost more money to pay the workers’ salaries. However, some would argue otherwise.
On October 23, the Puget Sound Business Journal published a cover story called “Apocalypse Not: $15 and the cut that never came.” The article’s author, Jeanine Stewart, argued that restaurant owners had nothing to worry about because more restaurants actually opened after the April 1 minimum wage increase.
“Dozens of new restaurants have opened in the city since April 1,” Stewart said in the article. “King County has issued 5,227 permits for food service establishments in Seattle so far this year, which new and existing restaurants must get each year. That’s well on the way to surpassing the 5,458 permits issued all last year and the 5,415 issued in 2013.”
The article was a counterpoint to comments made by Tom Douglas, restaurateur of Lola and Etta’s, to The Stranger. Before the minimum wage increase, Douglas said that it would cost his company, Tom Douglas Restaurants, $5 million to pay for everyone’s salaries, which would be $2 million more than the restaurant group made in 2013.
“I don’t know that it would put us out of business,” Douglas told The Stranger in November 2014, “but I would say we would lose maybe a quarter of the restaurants in town, would be my guess.”