Denny’s franchise owner John Metz has been contacted by Denny’s chief executive John Miller to let him know of his ‘disappointment’ for statements made about Obamacare.
“We recognize his right to speak on issues, but registered our disappointment that his comments have been interpreted as the company’s position,” Miller said in an email sent to The Huffington Post.
Metz announced a plan to charge customers at his Denny’s restaurants a 5 percent charge that is going to be an Obamacare fee. “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,” Metz said in an interview with the Huffington Post.
Metz and his company, RREMC Restaurants, own over 30 Denny’s Restaurants. In a statement, Metz said, “We regret that the statements we made may have been interpreted as representative of the Denny’s brand or of other franchisees, which they are not. Our stores do not have a 5 percent surcharge. Despite recent media coverage, RREMC Restaurants is committed to exploring viable and effective ways to deal with the changing economic climate, including the implementation of The Affordable Care Act. We have always been and will continue to be 100 percent dedicated to our employees and customers and will work tirelessly to find solutions that are in their best interests. It is our intention is to fully comply with the law.”
Not long after the comments were made by Metz, Abdo Mouannes, an owner of seven Denny’s in Florida, said that his restaurants were inundated with angry phone calls. “The manager said it was so frustrating, she wanted to unplug the phone,” Mouannes told HuffPost. “People didn’t like what they heard and were saying they wouldn’t support Denny’s, but we have nothing to do with that decision. I am not a fan of the idea. We are opposing the 5 percent [surcharge] — it’s not even a consideration for us.”
Mouannes said that he was not planning to layoff workers or cut employee hours because of Obamacare but might have to do so if boycotts occur. “I’m not in favor of cutting employees, but if there is no demand, we will be pushed to do this,” he said. “Unfortunately, if there are boycotts, it’s going to come down to hurting our operations, hurting our employees. There will be people hurt across the board.”
Denny’s Corp. has been trying to separate itself from the comments made by Metz, with Miller saying, “While we respect the decision of an independent business owner to speak out on this or other topics and express their personal views, his statements do not capture the respect by Denny’s, the Denny’s Franchisee Association or our franchise community at large for our hardworking employees or for our valued customers. Unfortunately, the comments of this franchisee, who represents less than 1 percent of our system and who owns restaurants in other concepts, has been portrayed as reflective of the entire Denny’s brand. I am confident his perspective is not shared by the company or hundreds of franchisees/small business owners who make up the majority of the Denny’s community. Specifically, his comments suggesting that guests might reduce the customary tip provided to their server as an offset to his proposed surcharge are inconsistent with our values and approach to business throughout our brand.”