The Road To Hell’s Kitchen Is Paved With Good Intentions

A few years ago, when the city of Minneapolis jumped on the “raise the minimum wage to $15 and mandatory benefits“ bandwagon, the owners of popular downtown eatery “Hell’s Kitchen” led the way in virtue-signaling how very OK they were with it.

And they stuck to their guns (their owners would not be OK with me using that phrase, but it’s still a free country) as a wave of other restaurants shut down around the metro, many of them explicitly citing the City mandated bludgeoning of their bottom line. No, seriously – one of them, “Ward 6“ in Saint Paul – pops up in the story, although the article never really connects the dots.

The star Tribune assures us that the owners saw they had a problem – they don’t specify which problem, although they hinted at it in a few places – but, for the moment, the bleeding is stanched.

Incredibly, the article points out in almost as many words that the owners of the restaurant almost geometrically match the stereotype every conservative has of restaurantears who virtue signal their approval of laws that, historically, shred through restaurant jobs like wood chippers through particleboard end tables: they spent years really not paying much attention to their financials, floating on a wave of profits from a thriving business and a good location (and, let’s be honest, really good food – I haven’t been there in years, but I did love it) until almost literally waking up one morning and realizing they were in serious trouble.

And you have to go about 2/3 of the way down the article to get to this bit here:

“The restaurant’s staff of 180 was trimmed to 160, chiefly through attrition and by adjusting start times to better match the flow of customers, producing a wage savings of $170,000. “

I am sure that most of the cuts were “through attrition” – not only does the restaurant industry have famously high turnover, but so does any business when the owners start frantically slashing expenses – but let’s break the story’s numbers down: that’s $170,000 in wages – the equivalent of 11 part time, 20 hours a week jobs at the new city of Minneapolis $15 an hour minimum wage – that don’t exist anymore.

So underneath all of the restaurant management‘s and started being as happy talk, what’s happening is…

…Exactly what conservatives, business people and anyone who passed economics 101 and said would happen: the Minneapolis city council’s wage and benefit laws are not just killing businesses, they’re killing jobs.

Of course, the virtue signaling Minneapolis city counselors and the bureaucrats who work for them don’t work in restaurants (or any private sector or entrepreneurial business, for that matter); Minneapolis’s restaurant industry has been one of the service industry’s “it“ sectors for decades, now, so I suspect they figure they’ll always be another.

By the way – I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Hell’s Kitchen’s current owners furtively start looking for a buyer in the near future, that the expenses continue getting slashed, the Yelp reviews start spiraling, and the place quietly closes within five years. And if that happens – heaven forfend – the last thing the city, the Star Tribune or the restaurant’s compliant DFL management will do is blame the city’s policies for it.

I hope not – I genuinely like eating there, although I actually can’t eat there anymore – but I wouldn’t bet against me on it, either.

5 thoughts on “The Road To Hell’s Kitchen Is Paved With Good Intentions

  1. Am I reading this correctly? The restaurant could only afford the new, higher minimum wage if it cut wages?

  2. I’ve loved the food at Hell’s Kitchen (and the Steadman art) since their original location when I fortuitously ducked in there on a rainy day. The walleye BLT is an incredible sandwich, the menu is imaginative, and the home-made condiments are great. I even booked a company party there and they were easy to work with (and I received a Mitch Omer autographed cookbook, to boot, even though I already had their cookbook). Their political leanings were clear, but par for the course in downtown Minneapolis.

    They began to lose me, though, when their virtue-signaling turned into bullying of customers who had the temerity to complain about the restaurant’s more out-front politicking. Most hospitality venues tend to take a casual, “thank you for your feedback” approach, but in HK’s case any political social media complaint had to be killed with fire. I never was one of the complainers, but I followed HK’s social feeds – and their no prisoners approach was finally unappetizing enough that my family and I stopped going there.

  3. Watch the city council raise their own salaries so they won’t need to brownbag their lunches.

  4. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 09.20.18 : The Other McCain

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