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A local business owner says the minimum wage increase could hurt small businesses

Posted at 11:08 PM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 23:08:58-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A local business owner is worried that the minimum wage increase could affect local mom-and-pop's.

The minimum wage will increase on Thursday as part of Amendment 2.

In November, the amendment was passed and will increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

With the increased food prices, rent prices and now payroll, local businesses are feeling the crunch.

The owner of LaMotta's Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant, Carmelo LaMotta, said the increase could force businesses to close their doors.

"As a business owner, it's not the time to raise the minimum wage," LaMotta said.

He says the pandemic has folks looking for deals, which brings customers in the door but costs the restaurant money. That money could be used to pay for staff member's paychecks.

"The middle class that comes here to work for me and other places. They live on working at these establishments. They can't find a job or pay rent," he said.

Those establishments might be forced to close.

"Payroll at the end of the month is going to go up. It just kills our margins and if we can't make our margins, we can't stay open," LaMotta said.

He said the minimum wage increase could work in Tampa or Miami but not in Southwest Florida.

"We are growing, but we are not there yet to pay all this big money to employees for minimum wage," he said.

LaMotta said the minimum wage increase would show up in menu prices. He knows from experience. He has increased his prices from the rising food prices.

"Even here at the restaurant, the food cost has doubled in the last six months, so we even have to raise our prices too. We can't afford to buy the food. Without the food, you can't have staff." he said.

LaMotta said millions of workers rely on these jobs and without them, they won't be able to afford rent.

He said the only solution is supporting local businesses, so they can keep their doors open.