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After One Day, Tom Douglas Takes Back His 2% Minimum Wage Surcharge

He’s increasing menu prices instead.

Tom Douglas
Tom Douglas

In going tipless, Ivar’s Salmon House was the first local restaurant to make a bold move regarding Seattle's increased minimum wage that went into effect Wednesday, April 1. Tom Douglas, on behalf of Serious Pie, Lola’s, Dahlia Lounge, and the rest of his restaurant empire, was set to be next, but due to public outcry, he’s already changed his strategy. On Tuesday, March 31, Douglas introduced a 2% "wage equality surcharge" that his restaurants would add to bills to compensate for the increased labor costs, but after just one day, he removed it.

Instead, Douglas posted on his company blog last night, "future labor increases will be reconciled in the menu price increases as many of you have suggested you would prefer." He apologized for his "unnecessarily snarky and snippy" political comments in his Tuesday blog post that introduced the new policy—now off the company site, but The Seattle Times published a copy, courtesy of reader Alec Matias. In his post last night, Douglas also explained that his initial reasoning with the surcharge was an effort to "level the playing field" between large and small employers, which have different rules under the new law.

With over 500 employees, Douglas is required to work toward the $15/hour target wage at a faster rate than those with fewer workers, which he says creates "a multi-million dollar discrepancy between large and small employers."

He ends the post by inviting people to continue communicating their thoughts with his company in hopes of building positive "consensus." "I truly hope you continue to value us as chefs, bartenders, cooks and waiters but also as your neighbors trying to do what’s best for our city and all of us who live here," he writes.