Jacksonville restaurant owner says $15 minimum wage would hurt business

Attorney pushes for $15 minimum wage hike

An attorney is pushing to raise the minimum wage in Florida to $15 per hour. John Morgan announced the new initiative Tuesday to get it on the 2020 ballot.

“It’s important to offer a great meal at a great price,” Johnny Mendez said. Mendez is manager of Si Senor, a Mexican restaurant on Jacksonville's Southside.

Since opening six years ago, the business has grown from two employees to nearly 30.

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"There's great potential for growth here. There's a lot of demand for our product," he said. “If the minimum would increase to $15 an hour, that would have a big impact -- a negative impact on our business."

Mendez said a hike in minimum wage would not only affect his workers, but also the price of ingredients that go into the food, which would mean an increase in cost to customers.

“We sell tacos at $2.50. We’re only making 50 cents on a taco. So you’d have to sell 30 tacos to pay the one hour,” he said.

Right now, Florida’s minimum wage is $8.46 per hour. Morgan’s proposed measure would raise that to $10 in September 2021, with $1 per hour increases annually until it reaches $15 in 2026.

“That’s a huge increase, so what it really means for businesses is lower profits,” University of North Florida economics professor Madeline Zavodny said.

She said some workers could lose their jobs or have their hours cut.

“So they might not see their paychecks go up. They might see them actually go down or go to zero,” she said.

"You might also have to raise your prices and that would be hard for all consumers."

Mendez said he’s committed to offering quality food to Si Senor customers of all income levels.

“I would like to see people succeed and have more money in their pocket but, at the end, it hurts everybody’s pocket,” he said. “Instead of $2.50, now you’re looking at a $5 taco, which is very bad.”

John Morgan successfully pushed to get medical marijuana legalized in 2016. He is pushing to let people decide on the minimum wage issue on the 2020 ballot.