By Ned Atwater
March 28, 2018 (online), April 1, 2018 (print)
In the final days of Maryland’s legislative session, lawmakers have an opportunity to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2023 and phase out the tipped sub-minimum wage by 2025. As a restaurant owner, I know the increases will be good for business, good for Baltimore and beneficial to our state (“Raising the Md. minimum wage would stabilize families — and destabilize the underground economy,” Jan. 31).
Over 20 years, our business has grown to six locations and 225 employees. Our staff are on the front lines of our survival and steady growth over the years in a tough industry. When you pay employees a decent wage, they stick with you and grow with you. Lower turnover saves money and time in hiring and training costs. More experienced staff are also more efficient and productive, and they provide the best customer service.
Fair wages are vital to the health of our economy and communities, but the current minimum wage is not fair. Local businesses like ours thrive when customers have money to spend. Raising the minimum wage will increase consumer spending and strengthen the economy. When the minimum wage is too low, it’s more difficult for restaurants to pay a living wage and still keep prices competitive with restaurants paying low wages.
Lawmakers have a vital role to play in helping restaurants like ours and all businesses pay living wages by raising the minimum wage and leveling the playing field for everyone. HB 664 and SB 543 would do just that.
The writer is owner of Atwater’s Traditional Food, located in Belvedere Square, the Johns Hopkins medical campus, Canton, Kenilworth, Falls Road and Catonsville.
Copyright 2018 Ned Atwater