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Technomic research shows 50 percent of restaurant operators are concerned that a minimum-wage increase to $10 an hour would have a negative business impact. That number jumps to 79 percent when considering a $15 minimum wage.

“It’s obviously on the forefront of restaurant operators’ minds,” says Joe Pawlak, v.p. at Technomic. 

A "consensus measure” will be on the November ballot in San Francisco and if voters approve it, that city would boost minimum wage to $15 in quicker phases than Seattle. In San Diego, a proposal for an $11.50-hour minimum wage also could go before voters this fall. A bill in Massachusetts that won Senate approval last week would raise the state’s $8 minimum wage in three increments to $11 per hour by 2017. 

The same Technomic survey asked restaurant operators what they would do if faced with similar wage hikes as in Seattle. The top five responses were: cut hours (55%), raise menu process (55%), reduce employees (44%), hire fewer than planned (36%) not fill lost positions (35%). Twelve percent responded wage hikes were a “closure risk.”

The International Franchise Association recently penned a letter to the Chicago City Council, where a $15-per-hour draft ordinance has been proposed, saying legislators are misunderstanding the franchisee-franchisor relationship. 

There’s a similar sentiment in Seattle.

“We have to help the legislators understand the nuances of a small business,” Wilson says. “They have to make it sure it’s effective and that small businesses can afford this.”