San Francisco minimum wage is first to top $10

Jennifer Collins Dec 28, 2011

Adriene Hill: On January 1st, San Francisco becomes the first place in the country where minimum wage workers will make more than 10 bucks an hour. So what’ll it mean for the city’s famous restaurant industry?

Marketplaces Jennifer Collins finds out.

Jennifer Collins: Daniel Scherotter owns Palio d’Asti, a restaurant in the Financial District known for its homemade pasta. Beginning Sunday, every one of his waiters will make $10.24 an hour plus tips.

Daniel Scherotter: What I end up paying a waiter is what Manhattan pays plus what Boston pays plus what Chicago pays.

That’s because restaurants in other parts of the country can pay waiters below minimum wage. In San Francisco, they can’t. Scherotter says that’s trimmed his profit margin to the bone. Now he gets his pastries made outside the city. And he’s cut back on anyone the restaurant can do without.

Scherotter: The job of busboy is pretty much going the way of the dodo bird.

The minimum wage hikes have also changed the kinds of restaurants cropping up in the city. Rob Black is the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Rob Black: You’ve started having a lot more quick-service restaurants as opposed to full-service restaurants.

Or as Scherotter puts it: You open up a fine dining spot to establish your name as a chef; you drive a food truck to pay the bills.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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