A Stillwater, Minnesota café is facing intense scrutiny for charging customers a “minimum wage fee.”
Craig Beemer, owner of the Oasis Café, defends his decision to charge customers the fee, saying that since the 75-cent minimum wage increase that went into effect on the first of the month, he has had to charge the fee in order to keep his business afloat. Beemer claims that the 75-cent increase will cost him an extra $10,000 per year, so the added charge is necessary.
Since the fee started being added to customers’ checks, there have been mixed reactions.
“You’re essentially blaming customers for the increase when you charge for it the way you do,” wrote one person on the café’s Facebook page.
“It’s Oasis way of blaming our government for trying to set a fair living wage,” wrote another user. “It is political grandstanding.”
Oasis manager Colin Orcutt says they are shocked that the public has responded negatively to the charge.
“We’re shocked at what’s going on,” said Orcutt. “We’re all appalled at the response for just protecting his employees. We’re just doing what we have to do. [Beemer] wants people to be aware we’re a small business and we’re trying to stay open.”
Officially, the restaurant has responded on their Facebook page, defending the charge and explaining their motives.
“With regards to why we're charging a $.35 fee to cover the recent $.75 increase in minimum wage…we estimate the increase in labor cost will will [sic] cost our company more than $10,000 per year…which has to be offset by an increase in revenue in order to operate profitably,” wrote the café on their page. “Rather than increase the prices of our menu items, we chose to charge a flat fee. If the state of Minnesota would pass tip credit, like 43 other states have done, none of this would be necessary. For what it's worth, we pay our people very well. Our dishwashers start at $10/hour, our cooks start at $12/hour and our servers average more than $20 when you consider what they earn in tips.”
Despite a lot of negative response, some people have expressed that they don’t have a problem paying a little bit extra to help support the restaurant.