Celebrity chef Mario Batali isn’t convinced that a minimum wage of $15 will be good for the restaurant industry.
Speaking at a Recode’s Code Commerce event on Wednesday, Batali admitted that raising servers’ wages to $15 per hour is “a fascinating way of looking at raising quality of life, ” but doesn’t personally feel it’s sustainable for the owners of smaller restaurants, reports Buzzfeed.
“There’s no question that creating minimum wage is a faster route to get people more money very quickly, ” said Batali in response to an audience member’s question on the subject. “I suppose … the outcomes of that, lies in the fact that quite quickly, the prices in eateries who … are supported and basically run by people who[ attain] minimum wage will create their prices.”
“It’s not without expense that we[ raise wages ]. That’s all I’m saying, ” he said.
The celebrity chef argued that the restaurateurs themselves aren’t to blame, as many of them are operating on very slim profit margins as it is. Hiking wages to $15 to have been able to create as “3 0 percentage increase in costs for the restaurant, ” he added.
Batali also is therefore of the opinion that many restaurateurs will be forced to close if a $15 minimum wage — or a mandatory “no-tipping” rule — were to be instituted. He also quoth a number of eateries in San Francisco that were forced to shut down as the city’s minimum wage rises toward $15.
“I know, in San Francisco, a lot of my friends are closing their eateries because they went from 10 percentage margin to 3 percent margin, or from 6 percent margin to 0 percentage margin, ” he said.
“Idealogically, ” Batali said he’s not against workers earning more fund, but says it might be a while before the government and restaurant industry can find a way to make it “sustainable for us to operate.”
“At the end of the day, they will settle quickly and things will find some resolve, ” said Batali. But more specifically, he believes the restaurant industry will have to eat those costs and charge accordingly.
“It’s gonna happen. It’s gonna cost 50 bucks to go to a eatery pretty soon in America.”
Batali currently co-owns several eateries throughout the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong. In 2012, Batali and his restaurant partners were accused of withholding tips from nearly 1100 restaurant employees, and ultimately resolved out of court for $5.25 million. In 2017, however, Batali once told LinkedIn that workers at Babbo and Del Posto — two high-end Italian eateries he co-founded with Joe Bastianich — earn up to $130,000 per year.
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