Since Seattle's new minimum wage went into effect April 1, restaurateurs have been experimenting with different coping strategies. Tom Douglas instituted then removed a service charge before deciding to raise menu prices. Ivar's and three Renee Erickson restaurants have hiked/will shortly hike wages straight to $15 per hour and eliminate tipping, and Erickson's restaurants will also add a 18.5 percent service charge to share between the front and back of the house.
Since the law went live, however, no restaurant has cited the new minimum wage as their reason for shuttering — until now. Q13 Fox reports and Capitol Hill Seattle confirms that Broadway zPizza owner Ritu Shah Burnham says that she will close up shop in August after five years because business has become too expensive with the new labor costs.
While small businesses have seven years to reach the $15 an hour wage, Shah Burnham is part of the national zPizza franchise, and therefore considered a large business, though she personally has 12 employees. As a result, she must phase in the new $15 wage within two more years, and says it's not possible for her business.
Per Capitol Hill Seattle: "'When I saw what I had to do — if I had seven years, it was doable,' she said. 'But to do it in 24 months, it was going to be too much.'"