On Monday, the national restaurant chain Red Robin announced it would eliminate busboys at all of its 570 restaurants, as the company expects it will save $8 million in 2018 by doing so. Red Robin’s chief financial officer Guy Constant told attendees at the ICR retail conference, “We need to do that to address the labor increases we’ve seen.”
Michael Saltsman, director of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), told FOX Business, “I read that as minimum wage. Somebody like Red Robin, which has a lot of exposure in western states [where the minimum wage is rising faster] … this is sort of a burger and beer chain. If they can’t pass those increases off in higher prices … they have to find a way to do more with less.”
851Franchise.com editor-in-chief Nick Powills added, “From a business standpoint, [Red Robin made a] very smart move. From an employee standpoint, you just cut out $8 million worth of labor. The interesting thing about the minimum wage hike is that those that made the decisions to do it, did it on behalf of the employee … when intentions are good, and you can’t appease everybody, someone is going to eventually be on the short [end of the] stick.”
The Colorado-based chain, whose outlets are found primarily in western states, already eliminated expediters, who take the food from the cooks and place it on plates for the servers; that saved the company almost $10 million last year.
Saltsman added, “I think the loss, as the minimum wage goes up … [is the] hollowing out of entry-level opportunities,”
As FOX Business reported, “Earlier this year, a study conducted by EPI, which analyzed employment trends from 1990 through 2017, found that each 10% increase in the minimum wage in California has resulted in a corresponding 2% decline in employment for affected employees. The impact was larger, 5%, for lower-paid workers."