Washington’s minimum wage is going up: Here’s what that means for some local businesses

SPOKANE, Wash. – Once the minimum wage increases on January 1, some businesses may be increasing their prices to keep up.

Washington’s minimum wage will go up 80 cents on Saturday, from $13.69 to $14.49.

It’s another hurdle for some businesses paying that wage, having to deal with staff shortages, supply chain issues and increases as well as COVID-19.

David’s Pizza owner Mark Starr says he’s worried, but he shouldn’t too much. It wasn’t a surprise; they knew it was coming.

“What’s that mean? We’re going to have to raise prices,” Starr said.

Starr is already having to increase his prices because of how expensive the food supply is now. For example, he says a case of chicken wings has gone up substantially even in the last 90 days.

He says a case used to cost $40. Now, it’s $70.

“I’ve taken them off the menu. We just can’t afford to put them on right now, and that’s a huge shock to the customer,” he said.

Starr changed his menu and increased prices once, but those menus actually never went out. He said he had to scrap it after seeing the price for chicken wings go up.

He wants customers to know that the price increase isn’t just about them profiting, it’s about keeping up with what’s happening.

“We’re just compensating what we’re being charged, even recouping all of it. We’re just trying not to lose more money,” he said.

Starr lost some revenue when he closed on Sundays for four weeks, giving his staff some time off. They had been working overtime, tirelessly as he struggled to find workers.

David Hayes, the owner of North Hill on Garland Pub, ended up hiring staff for at least $15 because he couldn’t find workers for less over the summer. He dealt with the same struggle in finding workers and ended up hiring teenagers to give them experience, too.

He said it was a good move on his part, wanting to pay his workers more anyways. Now, he doesn’t have to worry as much with the wage going up 80 cents in just a few days. However, he is worried about the future.

“I do fear the next time the state comes around and says. ‘Well, we’re going to move you to $16 an hour, OK? $17 an hour.’ How do I hit that equity point?” he said.

Businesses have been through a lot these pandemic years; this last year, they’ve had to deal with extreme heat, smoke and another COVID-19 bout. While it is stressful, both Hayes and Starr say they’ll figure it out and make it through. The minimum wage increasing again is just another hoop they’re jumping through.

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