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Owner of Denny’s and Hurricane Grill & Wings to Issue Surcharge to Offset Obamacare
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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.”

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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.


  1. Arthur Acevedo

    November 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Business owners,such as the one here, are free to charge whatever prices they like. However, as this business operator will surely learn, the 5% surcharge and the reduced hours will translate into reduced revenue. Not because of the business owners aversion to the medical benefit, but because savvy competitors will take advantage of the price increase and reduced hours.

  2. Terrance Schemansky

    November 16, 2012 at 1:03 am

    It’s not the restaurant owners fault that he has to come up with a way to pay for Obamacare. Who’s fault is it, and who should pay for it? “Wait. I thought it was free!”

  3. Rich

    November 16, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Business owners should be free to charge whatever the market will bear for whatever reason they want. They should not be singled out as doing anything out of the ordinary. But alas we have a horribly bias media who attempts to get people to conform to the agenda they want hoisted on people, so they single out companies that are not playing by the rules they want followed. If every newspaper or online news source had a section showing their own bias, papers would double in size and their would be million more online pages. they are charging a surcharge, get over it. It will be the norm in 12 months!

  4. RobinOP

    November 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    John Metz is the owner of RREMC Restaurants and is free to squander his business opportunities in any way he wishes, but he is apparently trying to drive away his best employees and alienate his paying clientele.

    I remember Circuit City tried to blame the failure of management and cut costs by firing their most costly employees (the best salespersons). How did that greedy maneuver work out for the now defunct company?

    The makers of Twinkie’s and Wonder Bread drove their production folk into striking. Hostess stopped paying into the pension fund, then wanted the employees to take an 8 % pay cut and raising their insurance premiums drastically. While they gave their CEO a pay raise from $700,00 a year to $2.5 million per year. Abusing your employees carries a risk as Hostess filed bankruptcy again and recently decided to liquidate.

    Maybe Papa John’s and Denny’s should rethink their policies by looking at the ACA as a cheap way to keep valuable employees healthy rather than a unbearable cost.

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