Minimum Wage And Restaurant Reviews

Truthfully I have never eaten at the Swiss Inn in Lake George, Michigan, so I have no idea of how accurate some of the statements I have found are.

But I had to find out more about the restaurant owned by a man who commented on one of my own statements.  In response to it, and to a recent Capitol Confidential article, he says with his own words:

“As a restaurant owner in northern Michigan, I would disagree with you! The last time the minimum wage went up (30%) I raised my prices only 15 cents to make up for the difference. What we (Small Businesses) need more than ANYTHING, is more spendable income in the hands of the people who spend it, the Middle Class. Giving me and other businesses a tax break did very little to help me. Adding a NEW tax actually took money OUT of our fragile economy, hurting it more. The ONLY thing that would cause me, (or ANY small business), to hire someone, is if there is an increase in the demand for my product or service. I believe the increase of minimum wage will help everyone, putting more money into the economy will not only help the struggling workers, but it will also help the struggling small businesses, and an increase in taxes for the State. Everyone wins!!! As far as a tipped employee goes, the smaller tips you claim will happen, will be taken care of by the $7.60 per hour they will be gaining!”

Everyone wins!

And curiosity found me searching for the business to perhaps find a menu, and see what kind of prices he was charging and the food he was serving for a better feel of the customer demographics.  Knowing the area the business is in helps.  Lake George is a rural vacation town, that gets much of its business in the summer, and does have a limited choice in dining options.

I managed to locate one of those websites that has some interesting reviews for this type of fine cuisine. Yelp has a number of business reviews for places all over the country, does not allow owner editing, and is completely customer driven.  The first review on the page gave me a giggle:

“I’m not really sure how rate the Swiss Inn. If you base your review on nostalgia and what else is around then it is 5/5 and has the best pizza around!!

If I’m being honest then this place at best had local charm and decent prices.

I’ve been going to the Swiss Inn ever since my family bought a cottage on the lake and their pizza was always a treat for the weekend. Twenty years later the pizza tastes like it some how came out of a can. None of the ingredients are fresh and maybe they shouldn’t let the air out of the can the pizza came in, freshen it up a bit. The chairs were also falling apart. We tried five before we found two suitable stools.

On a positive note the beers come in Mason jars and the menu is printed like a newspaper.

This place is usually your only option up at Lake George and 9/10 your already blacked out so keep on keeping on Swiss Inn. You rock!


But hey, I’m not trying to hit the reviews in order to denigrate the business.  Customer experiences are personal, and there are a few mixed ones for these guys over the years; some good, and some neutral.

However, the conversation on the CapCon article was about the effect of minimum wage increases on a restaurant business.  Certainly, the man who argues with “I raised my prices only 15 cents to make up for the difference,” could withstand the economic forces of increased labor costs with no other changes, right?  Also, he says he pays the wait staff $7.40 an hour before their tips. If true, that is pretty high, but when given more information, it is understandable.  One of the other reviews started with this:

“The Swiss Inn used to be awesome.  Unfortunately, 90% of the wait staff is gone. There isn’t enough help.  …

Read the rest of it.


If we are going to have a truly honest argument, perhaps we acknowledge the reality of what the artificially high cost of labor does to the numbers IN the workforce.

Though this is not intended to put the operation in a bad light, it does hint at the way a restauranteur must deal with escalation of costs. Even a man who claims no harm done by government mandated expenses has managed his business in a way that appears to reflect increased employee expenses.

Business MUST adjust to increased costs in some way.  certain costs such as food, equipment, utilities, and other purchased goods are outside of a business owner’s (except for negotiated terms) control. If one component becomes more expensive, the costs must be passed along to the customer of that business.

However, to remain competitive, there is a limit to how much an increased expense can be passed through.  The only other way for a business to survive, is for it to become more efficient, and manage in the ONE way that is COMPLETELY the purview of the owner.

And just to be more clear, I will leave you with this [then vs now] picture to drive the point home.service



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  5 comments for “Minimum Wage And Restaurant Reviews

  1. Corinthian Scales
    May 10, 2014 at 7:29 am

    "I am open to, um looking at minimum wage. Well, that's why we need to look at it, but it has been a while since we've had an increase so, I want to be open to an increase. I'm sorry, what?"

    Run away. Run away.


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  2. Corinthian Scales
    May 10, 2014 at 9:04 am

    "I think we oughta raise it, Because frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay and I think communicating that is important to us." - president Romney

    ...and public sector union collective bargaining committees rejoice (see #11) in every community from sea to shining sea.

    Just remember... 24 + 4 = 30


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  3. Mark
    May 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I was the owner of the Swiss Inn for 17 years. During that time I saw my share of ups and downs. Owning and running a small business in Northern Michigan is very tough. When minimum wage went from $5.50 to $7.40 here in Michigan, I was very scared. How was I going to compete? Was I going to have to raise my prices so much, that no one will come in? Well it turns out that didn't happen. I increased my prices only 15 cents. My business volume went up, and I hired 2 NEW employees. I'm not sure what happened in other parts of the state but here in Northern Michigan, it turned out ok. I spoke with (and do regularly) with other businesses in my area, and found similar results.

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