Minimum wage slated to increase this weekend — along with menu prices
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s new minimum wage law takes effect this Saturday.
Those earning the current $10.10 an hour should see a bump in their paycheck soon — up to $12 an hour.
Advocates said the change gives about 88,000 workers a livable wage, and it comes at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch from inflation.
Someone working 40 hours a week at minimum wage could get about $300 more a month under the new law.
Bartender Aaron Miyahira said it’s a welcome cushion to help stretch his family’s budget.
“We’re getting like $6 for for milk now. And it’s a little rough. Now, we just got to work a little harder,” he said. “The minimum wage definitely does help a little bit, but it’s more so with this industry. I would say the tips are more impactful on my paychecks.”
Miyahira works at Tiki’s Grill and Bar, which has served customers in Waikiki for 20 years.
For many restaurants, this new cost of labor means changes to their menus.
“With freight and fuel charges going up, we’re gonna see menu prices increasing as well throughout the state,” said Tiki’s partner Michael Miller. “It’s a delicate balancing act. I think all restaurants or businesses throughout the state are going to have to be making pricing adjustments to see where that sweet spot is to still keep in business yet take care of their employees.”
Miller is a legislative board member of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, which opposed the minimum wage law. Critics believe the added costs would hurt small businesses that are already struggling to stay open during the pandemic with short staffing and supply chain issues.
While pay is important, Miller believes a supportive, flexible work environment is key to attracting employees.
“You have people that are in college, you have single moms, you have people that’s picking up a second job to support their family. So I think the restaurant industry gives people that type of flexibility to do. And then the biggest thing is you in a lot of the positions, you can earn tips,” he said. “Taking care of the people that take care of our guests really matters.”
Family-owned Sekiya’s Restaurant has been in Kaimuki for 90 years. Chef/manager Trey Paresa worries about rising operating costs but hopes higher wages will attract workers.
They offer take-out and dine-in service but have to limit opening hours because they don’t have enough staff.
“It’s hard to find people to work in the restaurant. So hopefully with the minimum wage increase, people want to go out and work again,” Paresa said. “We’re kind of raising prices, but we’re trying to do what we can to not raise it too much. Because you know, everybody’s hurting.”
Most customers are understanding.
“We don’t really care that the minimum wage will cause prices to go up. Because if people can live better, then you’re gonna get better service and everyone’s gonna be happier. So why not?” said Maggie Bolen, who live in New York and celebrating her honeymoon
Her husband says it’s the price you pay for eating out during the pandemic.
“Hopefully things normalize over the next couple of years when as the world gets back to normal,” TJ Bolen said.
Businesses have time to plan for more changes. The next scheduled wage increase is on January 1st, 2024, when it will rise to $14. In 2026, it’ll go up to $16 and in 2028 it will be $18 an hour.
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