• Restaurant owners warn of layoffs, higher prices with $15 wage


    SEATTLE, Wash. - Some Seattle restaurant owners warn they will have to raise menu prices, add delivery fees and cut jobs if the city hikes the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

    "The things that are really tough that I really don't want to consider are laying people off or reducing hours," Angela Stowell told the Seattle City Council Wednesday.

    She and her husband, Ethan Stowell, have nine high-end Seattle restaurants and estimate they would have to raise menu prices 25 percent.

    The average dinner for two would go from $94 to $117.

    Socialist city council member Kshama Sawant, who is leading the push for $15 per hour, dismissed that concern.

    "I would hazard a guess that if someone can afford a nearly hundred dollar meal for two people, I don't think they'll have a problem paying $117," Sawant responded.

    The company says servers at Ethan Stowell Restaurants now make a base of minimum wage of $9.32 plus tips, which average $22.73 an hour for a total average hourly wage of $32.05.

    The company expects if the minimum wage rises, customers would tip less.

    Pagliacci Pizza is also concerned about customers feeling pressured to tip after paying higher prices.

    "We would talk about removing the tip line from our receipts," said co-owner Matt Galvin.

    Galvin said Pagliacci might raise prices 10 to 15 percent, add a $2 or $3 delivery fee in the city and move its call center out of Seattle.

    Restaurant owners suggested phasing in a higher minimum wage, and including tips and benefits in how compensation is calculated.

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