Minnesota Café Charges Its Customers a ‘Minimum Wage Fee’

by Molly Wharton

Eaters at a restaurant in Minneapolis are paying a new minimum-wage fee on their meal tabs.

CBS reported that the Oasis Café is now charging their customers a 35-cent fee, which they say is to offset the cost of the increased minimum wage for tipped employees.

A 75-cent wage hike took effect August 1, marking the first hike in Minnesota’s minimum wage in a decade, according to the Star Tribune

Some customers said that they didn’t mind paying a little extra in order to keep the café in business, and supported Oasis’s effort to keep its workers employed. 

“I think he did the right thing,” one customer, who also owns a small business, told the Tribune. “If nothing else, it’s making a bold statement.”

But others were less happy to be charged the extra fee, expressing their discontent on social media. 

“It’s Oasis [sic] way of blaming our government for trying to set a fair living wage,” one customer wrote on Facebook. “It is political grandstanding.”

Oasis’s owners responded on social media: “Thumbing my nose at the law change, you’re right. Part of my thinking was to shine a light on this matter, which I truly believe is in the best interest of both my business and employees.”

The Oasis management said that the wage increase costs the restaurant more than $10,000 a year. Manager Colin Orcutt told the Tribune that the café considered becoming more like a fast-food joint and operating without servers in order to stay in business. 

Orcutt explained that he thought increasing prices without telling anyone seemed “more backhanded,” and so the management ultimately decided upon the fee.

Still, some customers encouraged a boycott of the café on social media because of the fee.

“We’re shocked at what’s going on,” Orcutt said regarding the negative public response. “We’re all appalled at the response for [owner Craig Beemer] just protecting his employees. We’re just doing what we have to do.”

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