John Metz is the franchisor of Hurricane Grill & Wings and is the president and owner of RREMC Restaurants, which operates roughly 40 Denny’s and Dairy Queens. Metz is imposing a five percent surcharge to bills given to customers so he can offset the costs of Obamacare. He will also drop the number of hours his employees will be working.
“If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare,” Metz said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “Although it may sound terrible that I’m doing this, it’s the only alternative. I’ve got to pass the cost on to the consumer.”
There are 48 locations of Hurricane Grill & Wings and the five percent surcharge will begin in January of 2014, when Obamacare should be completely operational. Beginning in December, Metz is going to hold meetings at all of his restaurants to talk about the surcharge and to let employees know “that because of Obamacare, we are going to be cutting front-of-the-house employees to under 30 hours, effective immediately.”
Metz hopes that the meetings will inspire his employees and not alienate them. “What we’re going to ask them to do is to speak to their elected officials, to try to convey what this means in terms of their jobs and their livelihoods,” Metz said.
He did say that he understands the issues that will be caused with scheduling because of the drop in hours and for his employees. “I think it’s a terrible thing. It’s ridiculous that the maximum hours we can give people is 28 hours a week instead of 40,” Metz said. “It’s going to force my employees to go out and get a second job.”
Metz said that he is not against insurance, saying that right now he pays anywhere from $5,000 to $6,000 per employee annually for insurance. “Obviously, I’d love to cover all our employees under that insurance,” he said, “But to pay $5,000 per employee would cost us $175,000 per restaurant, and unfortunately, most of our restaurants don’t make $175,000 a year. I can’t afford it.”
Metz is trying to send a message and because of that he is going to risk the backlash that he is going to face. “We’re trying to get more restaurant operators rallied around the concept of adding a 5 percent surcharge to their bill to cover the costs of Obamacare as opposed to raising prices,” he said.