Seattle restaurant industry warns of fallout as minimum wage hike nears

Seattle restaurants are warning that the looming hike in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour could soon force them to cut back their staffs and raise prices.

For an industry with a slim profit margin to start with, the wage hike could have a profound effect, even as supporters say it will benefit the economy in the long run.

The increase, up from $9.32 an hour, is set to be phased in starting April 1. The initial minimum wage will be $11 an hour. Employers with 500 or fewer workers must increase their pay to $15 an hour by January 2019. Larger employers, having 501 or more workers, have just two years to raise their worker compensation to $15.

Many owners are concerned over what the changes will mean for business.

“It will be difficult to staff the front of the house as well as we have before,” Brendan McGill, the chef and owner of the Hitchcock Restaurant Group, told FoxNews.com.

Although McGill supports the minimum wage increase, he noted that, “less people will be fighting over each other to fill up your water.”

The Seattle Restaurant Alliance worked with a mayoral task force from the beginning in an attempt to find a compromise benefiting both restaurants and workers, Anthony Anton, CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association, told FoxNews.com. However, his association did not support the final outcome and is now warning about the impact. 

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