The restaurant world is full of owners and managers who are always trying to figure out new ways to make more money for their businesses. They'll try anything. Add a dollar to every entree? Sure! Charge a cake slicing fee? You bet! Pay their employees less than the required minimum wage? Oh, hell no!
According to Eyewitness News KOB, a restaurant owner in Albuquerque, New Mexico is trying that approach and it is not going over well at all. Last November, Albuquerque voters changed the minimum hourly wage for servers from $2.13 to $3.83. However, Eric Szeman, owner of Route 66 Malt Shop had his employees sign a contract that said they agreed to keep their $2.13 an hour wage in order for them to keep their jobs. Of course they signed it because nobody wants to be looking for a new job in Albuquerque.
I guess that after a few days they realized they had signed some illegal bullshit and some of the servers decided to complain about it. The next thing you know, they're all over the Internet and The Bitchy Waiter is writing a post about them.
“We can't afford it,” Szeman says. “We don't have the money. We don't make the money." He also says his payroll went from about $3,600 every two weeks to about $6,000.
However, sir, the law is the law. If the law says that you have to pay your employees $3.83 an hour then you kinda gotta do that, right? That's what laws are for; they are to be followed. I get that you now have to pay an extra $1200 a week to cover payroll costs, but you can't just make up your own labor laws. I would suggest you raise the prices on your menu to cover the costs. Surely the fine voters of Albuquerque will understand that in order for you to pay the new minimum wage they approved then you will have to raise the prices. Where else did the voters think that money was going to come from?
I have looked at the website and see that the restaurant is open seven days a week for a total of 81 hours. If the owner needs to earn an additional $1200 a week to cover this new pay increase, that is only $171 extra dollars a day. If there are about 200 covers a day, then if each one of them paid an additional eight-five cents for their food, that would supply the needed money to pay employees the new wage. Perhaps 200 covers a day is unrealistic. If 100 covers a day is more likely, then add $2.00 to every item on the menu. It's what restaurants do.
I also studied the Route 66 menu. It's cheap. The Classic Burger is $4.99. Why not raise it to the whopping price of $5.99 and you will be well on your way to being a law-abiding restaurant owner again. Or change the price of the Frito-Pie to $6.49. That is still some affordable food. It does not seem that difficult. Perhaps it costs too much money to reprint the menus and update the website? (Truth be told, that website needs to be updated regardless of menu changes or not. It looks like an eighth-grader made it with a Geocities template 15 years ago. That music is annoying.) I really don't see a reason why the owner can't make this happen.
I have a feeling that after pressure form the news media, he will eventually pony up the money and pay his servers the right wage. In the meantime, feel free to head on over to the Route 66 Malt Shop Facebook Page and say hello to them. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you.
Please share this or like it so that more people can put the pressure on this restaurant owner to do the right thing and pay his servers the legal minimum wage. And people in Albuquerque, I hope you will continue to patronize this restaurant even after the price of nachos goes up to $7.25. You voted to raise the minimum wage, now you have to put your money where your mouth is.
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