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Minimum wage impacts Anchorage businesses

By Heather Hintze 6:36 PM January 2, 2015
Anchorage, Alaska –

Kriner’s Burgers & Pies is an up and coming hot spot for lunch in Mountain View, and its owner is looking ahead to the upcoming minimum wage increase.

Owner Andy Kriner said he’s fortunate most of his employees there and at his other restaurant, Kriner’s Diner, already make well above minimum wage.

The $8.75 an hour increase goes into effect at the end of February. January 1, 2016 it bumps up to $9.75 an hour and then will be adjusted for inflation.

Nine of his employees will get the raise this year but Kriner said it’s servers who don’t really need it.

“Right around 60-percent of most servers wages are tips,” he explained. “So to have a minimum wage raise without tip provision doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

Kriner thinks lawmakers should have taken that into account. Many states have provisions for tipped employees. Servers in 19 states only make $2.13 an hour.

While Kriner doesn’t think wages in Alaska should be quite that low, he doesn’t think new employees with no experience deserve $10 an hour.

This year his restaurant costs will go up $800 a month; next year when wages hit $9.75 an hour, it will increase by another $1,000 to cover the nine employees who need a raise.

“In two years my payroll is going to go up $1800 a month and that’s nothing compared to some places in town. There are places in town where maybe 30 percent of their work force is minimum wage employees and I feel bad for them, I really do,” Kriner said, chuckling.

He says he is thankful he won’t have to raise prices to compensate for the added payroll expense. That may have to change in 2016, however.

“Everyone has challenges every day. This is just another challenge and we’ll deal with it accordingly. We just have to, when you have your own business you figure out how to run it.”

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