OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The minimum wage in Oakland will jump $3 in less than two weeks and restaurants from Piedmont to Jack London Square are still figuring out how they are going to stay alive.
Oakland’s Chop Bar is just one example. The restaurant cooks a mean meal but runs a lean operation.
“Profit margins tend to be slim in this business,” said chef and owner Lev Delany.
Delany admits the city upping the minimum wage from $9 to $12.25 an hour can do damage.
“Raising our labor costs even a few percentage points can potentially hurt a lot of businesses,” he said.
Delany says his staff deserves more money but reality is, customers are going to have to pay for it. And that means a meal that’s 5-6 percent more expensive.
“We are going to do a very small price increase, and that should cover it,” he said.
Gary Jimenez with Lift Up Oakland is a big cheerleader of the minimum wage hike and says restaurants are exchanging the cost.
“There would be less turnover cost that they would have,” Jimenez said, “So that’s something they can use to pay people a better wage.”
At Homestead Restaurant owner Elizabeth Sassen is trying to throw customers a bone.
She’s raising prices 20 percent, but they’ll no longer have to tip.
” I think the city should provide a living wage for its workforce,” Sassen said, adding that she’ll take the price increase and spread it out among all her workers.