Cuomo can keep the change local news quick and easy steak marinade

Some area restaurant owners want to give gov. Andrew cuomo a tip: stay out of the pockets of restaurant staff and owners because everyone will suffer if you don’t.

The comments of niagara region restaurant owners came on the heels of gatherings held throughout the state by the new york restaurant association to discuss a proposal by the governor to eliminate the minimum wage tip credit.

This past week, one of several information sessions was held in amherst to share thoughts and information about the proposal, with association leaders saying that the governor has asked the state department of labor to examine the tip credit with an eye toward replacing tipping with an increased minimum wage.Niagara falls

In lockport, former waitress and now co-owner of stooges restaurant, adrienne kuzma, said the idea would greatly impact her business in a negative way, especially for her wait staff for whom she says serving is a sort of art form. “from the beginning of the presentation to the end of the presentation, that whole process is a craft they learn and they’re great at it, in general.”

Eliminating tips might eliminate the best servers from the industry, agreed chef marty mcdonough at danny sheehan’s steak house on lockport’s west avenue, who thinks that changes in the tipping system will reduce the wages of experienced wait staff who get larger tips for good service.

“our people make good money,” mcdonough said of his wait staff.Wait staff “if you eliminate tipping, if people see (servers) making minimum wage, they’re not going to tip like they used to.”

According to the restaurant association, some restaurants in the state have instituted a “no tipping” policy on their own, only to abandon it after pushback from both employees and customers. Association leaders point to the state of maine, which passed an initiative that abolished the tip credit, but reversed that decision just about a year later, due to restaurant employees organizing against the measure after they saw a significant decrease in earnings.

Melissa fleischut, president of the NYS restaurant association, said that the amherst meeting attracted about 65 owners and tipped employees and that those who attended expressed concerned about customers dining out less due to expected increase in menu prices to cover the loss of a state tax tip credit.Restaurant association

To explain, fleischut said that currently employers get to take credit for a portion of tips earned by an employee and count them toward the minimum wage obligation.

In this region, she said, the employer pays $7.50 an hour to a tipped employee, as long as their tips are at least $2.90 an hour, taking them up to the minimum wage of $10.40 an hour.

If the governor was successful in getting the tip credit abolished, there would likely be changes made at many area restaurants, according to fleischut and those interviewed following the meeting.

Jennifer benz, owner of dick and jenny’s restaurant on grand island — which this week celebrated its 10th anniversary — said that area restauranteurs are already under pressure from the recent increase in minimum wages given to wait staff.Minimum wage

“the servers just got a $2 an hour wage increase. In response to that, I had to give raises to the back of the house guys, so everybody just got bumped up and now they’re going to be doing it again,” she said, adding “it’s just doesn’t make sense.”

Besides that, benz believes that american diners want to tip. “they don’t want to pay more for their food and let me decide who gets it,” she explained. “tipping is actually one of the few things you can actually evaluate service and pay for what you got.”

Benz says new york is would be adding more regulations upon an already high risk industry. “the restaurant industry is super competitive,” she added. “let us compete.”

In niagara falls, the owner of michael’s restaurant on pine avenue, michael capizzi, agreed with benz, saying that it’s already hard enough for businesses in the state. “new york state creates an unfriendly business environment,” capizzi said.Minimum wage

niagara falls is one of the toughest places to do business,” he added, explaining that when the state continues to raise the minimum wage, the restaurant owner has two options, cut staff or raise prices. “I don’t like cutting people because michael’s is known for fast service, and you can only charge so much because niagara falls has no pricing power. The average citizen only makes about $24,000 a year,” he said.

Niagara falls does not have the same business climate as other areas of the state and the laws can’t treat all businesses as equal, capizzi explained.

There was one restaurant owner interviewed who didn’t take issue with the possible elimination of the tipping tax credit.Restaurant association mike poletti of mike’s marketside restaurant in the fall’s city market.

“my waitresses are strongly against it,” said poletti, who cut back his restaurant’s hours to only breakfast last november. “they’ll kill me,” he joked, “but I almost think they should be paid $20 an hour with no tipping. It wouldn’t bother me,” he added of paying $20 an hour to his small staff of hard working waitresses. “I would actually like that. It would be figured in the bill and customers would have to pay a little bit more.”

But the price increases anticipated in response to elimination of the tipping credit or tipping itself, worry restaurant owners like rob kudel, owner of bandana’s bar and grill in youngstown.Wait staff

Kudel said that the minimum wage going up in increments is too much for the local small town economy to handle. “at the end of the day, it’s going to make it too expensive for the common person to go out and eat.”

Bandana’s owner echoed fleischut of the state restaurant association when he said the governor’s motives for putting so much attention on the restaurant industry are unclear. “I think he’s trying to run for president,” kudel said.

There will be hearings to address this matter throughout the state this month, including at 10 a.M. March 21 in buffalo city hall. For more information visit www.Nysra.Org.