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Minnesota cafe charges fee to offset wage increase

August 7, 2014
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday criticized restaurants that are charging their customers fees to offset a recent state minimum wage increase, calling the practice "tacky."

Although he didn't name a specific restaurant, Dayton told Minnesota Public Radio's Morning Edition (http://bit.ly/1sgZ0aR ) Thursday that he is disappointed in restaurants that are adding fees to patrons' tabs.

"I think it's tacky, myself," Dayton said. "But it's their restaurant, and they have a right to freedom of expressions, and so if they're going to make this their way of objecting to it, people can decide for themselves whether they want to continue to patronize a restaurant that is trying to, opposes paying people $8 an hour."

Oasis Cafe, a small roadside cafe in Stillwater, recently started charging customers a 35-cent fee to offset the 75-cent wage increase that took effect last week, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1sA7oAJ ) reported. Although he only has half a dozen servers at his restaurant, owner Craig Beemer said it will cost him $10,000 more each year to pay his servers $8 an hour.

One angry customer demanded a refund, while others are encouraging people to boycott the restaurant through Facebook.

Colin Orcutt, a manager at Oasis Cafe, said everyone who works at the restaurant is shocked by the negative response from the community.

"We're all appalled at the response for just protecting his employees, he said. "We're just doing what we have to do."

At least one other restaurant has taken similar measures in light of the minimum wage increase.

Blue Plate Co., a Twin Cities-based company that owns eight restaurants, has increased prices and has begun to charge its servers when a customer uses a credit card to tip them.

Wade Luneburg of the MN State Council of UNITE HERE Unions told the Star Tribune that he thinks the industry is overreacting.

"Putting (minimum wage) fees on tickets and passing the cost on to consumers directly is strange at best, and creates an 'us against them' mentality while ordering dinner," he said.

Despite threats from customers and the online boycott movement, Orcutt said that business at Oasis Cafe has increased so far this week.

Mike Stephan of Taylors Falls also owns a small business in Stillwater. He said he thinks Beemer did the right thing by adding a minimum wage increase to customer's bills.

"If nothing else, it's making a bold statement," Stephan said.

 
 

 

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