Minnesota Café Adds “Minimum Wage” Fee to Customers’ Bills

By:  Bob Adelmann
Minnesota Café Adds “Minimum Wage” Fee to Customers’ Bills

After Minnesota raised its minimum wage, a café owner added a $.35 "minimum wage" fee to all customer orders to cover the added cost. 

Craig Beemer, the owner of Oasis Café in Stillwater, Minnesota, employs just six servers, but Minnesota’s minimum wage increase that kicked in on August 1 forced him to make some tough decisions. The wage increase to $8.00 an hour for his workers will cost more than $10,000 a year, and something had to give. Beemer decided that rather than increase his prices he decided to charge his customers an extra $.35 on their bills, calling it a “minimum wage” fee. Beemer explained that he “wants people to be aware [that] we’re a small business and we’re trying to stay open. If you raise prices and don’t tell anyone, that seems more backhanded, to me.”

The pushback from customers surprised Beemer's store manager, Colin Orcutt: “We’re appalled at the response just for protecting his employees. We’re just doing what we have to do.”

The basic law of economics — that whenever government intervenes in the private marketplace there will be consequences, both seen and unseen — has baffled most of Beemer’s customers, many of whom took the time to vent on his Facebook page. One unhappy soul wrote: “You’re essentially blaming customers for the increase when you charge for it the way you do.” Of course, that’s one of those unhappy consequences: It’s ultimately the consumer who pays for government mandates, whether they like (or understand) it, or not.

Said another, “If you cannot afford to pay your employees, maybe you cannot afford to run a restaurant.” That is another potential consequence: Forcing Beemer to pay his servers more doesn’t repeal the law of economics, as the money has to come from somewhere.

Another snidely remarked, “What’s the charge for cutlery?” while still another was supportive: “Very happy to see you takin’ a stand and doing what’s right for your business.” Customer Marie accused Beemer of throwing  a “temper tantrum”, writing, “You stated you pay your workers more than the new wage. So explain why you need the extra fee other than to throw a temper tantrum?” Xavier said this was Beemer’s way of airing a grievance while promoting class warfare: “Congrats on pitting your customers against your employees ... all politics aside this is a distasteful way of airing a grievance. I will not be dinning [sic] here any time soon.”

Some came closer to what Beemer was really doing.

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