Michael Saltsman’s assertion that raising D.C.’s tipped minimum wage would hurt servers was flat-out wrong [“Take a tip from servers: Leave their wages alone,” Local Opinions, May 15]. As a Manhattan restaurant owner, I’m proud to say that the recent increase in the minimum wage has made my business stronger and my employees’ livelihoods stabler and more secure. We also increased wages for our kitchen staff this year. As a result, our low turnover rate is the envy of our peers: The national average is 70 percent per year; ours is less than 10 percent. Customers admire and support our commitment to fair wages. And, most important, it’s the right thing to do.
We are not alone. Mr. Saltsman’s cherry-picked anecdotes do not reflect the views of the restaurant owners I know. For example, Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group’s #HospitalityIncluded initiative has been a resounding success; the restaurant the Modern just posted its most profitable quarter to date. Seven states, including those that make up the entire West Coast, have eliminated the tipped minimum wage, and the predictions of a restaurant apocalypse ring hollow.
Mr. Saltsman’s position is hardly surprising. His employer, the Employment Policies Institute, lobbies for the corporate restaurant industry, which has worked to keep restaurant wages low and benefits nonexistent. Advocating for a tipped minimum wage of $2.77 seems more appropriate to 1976, not 2016.
James Mallios, New York