A Minnesota Restaurant's 'Minimum Wage Fee' Is the New 'Obamacare Tax'

Groups rallied for a minimum wage increase in Minneapolis in February. Groups rallied for a minimum wage increase in Minneapolis in February. Flickr user fibonacciblue

A Minnesota restaurant decided to greet the state's recent minimum wage increase by adding a $0.35-cent "minimum wage fee" to all bills. Minnesota raised its minimum wage to $8.00 per hour on August 1, up from the federal rate of $7.25. Craig Beemer, the owner of the Oasis Cafe, told The Star Tribune that it will cost him an extra $10,000 a year. Instead of raising the costs of menu items, Beemer decided to add the fee to every receipt. 

The extra line time echoes the argument some restaurants made when the Affordable Care Act went into effect. One Los Angeles restaurant began to charg a 3 percent Obamacare surcharge. In 2012, a Denny's franchise owner considered adding a 5 percent Obamacare surcharge. But as we've noted before, costs rise for restaurants all the time — droughts raise food prices, landlords raise rent prices, etc. — and companies rarely not their extra expenses on the bill. But Minnesota's new minimum wage — and the wider, national movement for a living wage — is something concrete and newsworthy that seems to justify the price hike.

In both cases, whether it's a fee for providing health care or for paying a living wage, the reaction seems to be mixed. As The Washington Post noted, some commenters praised the restaurant for showing how the new wage affects companies, while others said they didn't mind paying more as much as they minded Beemer's attitude. “I’d gladly absorb a price increase to make sure my waitress/waiter was making a more livable wage, but I won’t patronize a restaurant with your attitude,” Facebook user Chuck Smith-Dewey wrote.

(Image via Flickr user fibonacciblue)

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