A Message From John Horne
Thank you for your interest in learning why I am urging you to vote NO on Amendment 2.
It will harm many of the people that it was intended to help.
We talk a lot about family at the Anna Maria Oyster Bars. You hear us refer to our treasured staff as “the AMOB Family,” because my partners and I recognize that without the contributions of these hard-working, talented, caring individuals, our business would not exist. That’s why we paid every single one of our 325+ employees while we were closed for seven weeks during the pandemic.
For the 25 years since opening the first Anna Maria Oyster Bar, I’ve put my heart and my love into my business and my community. This mandatory wage increase proposed by Florida’s Amendment 2 is bad for business, and if it’s bad for my business, it’s bad for my employees.
Proponents have said our minimum wage is too low…then do as we do, pay more per hour…we don’t pay minimum wage in our kitchens…we couldn’t employ anyone if we offered minimum wage. However, all tipped employees in Florida are considered minimum wage employees as they are paid $3.02 less than minimum wage…it’s a Tip Credit that came through another Constitutional Amendment in 2003 I believe. As the minimum wage in Florida increases, so does the “cash wage”. Servers, Bussers, bartenders, hosts already are earning 3 and 4 times minimum wage when tips are included.
Another unintended consequence of Amendment 2 is youth wage. One in three Americans got their first job in the hospitality industry…can we afford to pay 3 high school students $45 per hour to open the front door at our restaurants? There needs to be a training wage, a youth wage, and possibly a senior wage…none of these are addressed…we shouldn’t legislate via a Constitutional Amendment!
Dramatically raising the minimum wage in this way – even if graduated over five years – is a vicious spiral that I really don’t want to see, especially since COVID has already devastated us. By increasing the minimum wage, consumer prices will have to increase to cover increased labor costs, even at AMOB. Our $10 burger might have to increase to $18. If check averages increase, we’ll see fewer guests able to pay those prices or regulars dining with us less frequently. More than 21% of Floridians are Seniors on fixed incomes…they’re not getting a 77% raise like this amendment is seeking. If their income doesn’t rise with consumer prices, we’ll have fewer guests coming in, which means fewer shifts for our employees and fewer tips in their pockets. Fewer guests mean fewer hours in the kitchens as well.
My 325+ coworkers and I have invested blood, sweat, and tears into this business over the past 25 years. Large companies may be able to absorb this on top of everything else 2020 has thrown, but a small family-owned business like ours will be crushed.
We absolutely need to ensure that workers have the opportunity to earn a living wage. But when you learn of the unintended consequences, understand that passing this Amendment isn’t the way to do it. Yes, it will pull some people out of poverty… but will put triple that number out of jobs!
Learn more about how Amendment 2 will cripple Florida’s restaurant industry that creates opportunity for so many, in this op-ed, I co-wrote with my hospitality industry colleague, Mike Quillen, co-owner of Gecko’s Hospitality Group. >> https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/opinion/columns/2020/09/23/minimum-wage-hike-would-cripple-florida-hospital-industry-after-covid/5863415002/
Originally published in the Herald-Tribune on September 23rd