NY’s $15/Hr Min Wage Is Killing Mom And Pop Restaurants

The city of New York is too expensive for many to afford, and the wage jump to $15/hr is not making things any easier. New York restaurant owners have had to make drastic changes to their businesses just to keep afloat and the customers are noticing. Big corporations might be able to take the hit in the profits but smaller restaurants can’t afford these wages without a serious drop in quality and staff reduction.

Gabriela’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar, a margarita and taco staple on the Upper West Side for the past 25 years, is closing at the end of September — and it has been a long, painful road downhill, according to its mom-and-pop owners.

Since the $15-an-hour minimum wage hit New York City in December, Liz and Nat Milner say, they’ve been forced to slash their full- and part-time staff to 45 people from 60. Quality has suffered, they admit, and customers have noticed: They’re not coming in like they used to, and when they do, they’re spending less.

“I’m not against people making more money,” Milner added. “These people have worked for me for 20 years. But taxes, groceries, everything is going up and people have a little less money to spend on guacamole and tequila.”

Gabriela’s isn’t alone. In a survey of 324 full-service restaurants, the New York City Hospitality Alliance found that 76.5 percent of respondents cut staff hours and 36.3 percent eliminated jobs, including whole layers of middle management, in response to mandated wage increases.

“It’s death by a thousand cuts,” says Andrew Rigie, executive director of the group. “The minimum-wage increases put pressure on small businesses. They are well-intended but unsustainable. There’s only so many times you can increase the price of a burger and a bowl of pasta.”

New York had a chance to bring in Amazon who would have happily paid workers $15/hr, but they can afford it. Now New York is just hurting the small family-run businesses which will eventually lead many businesses to leave the city or close. They reduced the job opportunities available to New Yorkers with this move, is this really helping?