Pricey beer, expensive burgers and slow service? Blame Wynne, says bar owner

The owner of a downtown London bar says that increases to minimum wage in Ontario could mean pricey beer, expensive burgers and slow service.

Increases to minimum wage could cost Ale House owner at least $7,000 a month

Ale House owner Alex Petro said his new sign has already created some discussion inside of his bar in downtown London. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The owner of a downtown London, Ont. bar says that increases to minimum wage in his province could mean pricey beer, expensive burgers and slow service.

The Ale House on Dundas Street has a large sign outside warning customers that the bar can't afford increased labour costs and should send complaints to Premier Kathleen Wynne. 

Ale House owner Alex Petro said the increases in minimum wage are happening on too fast a timeline for independent businesses. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

On Tuesday, Wynne announced a plan to increase the provincial minimum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2019. 

The increase would be phased in over 18 months, rising to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018, and then to $15 the following January.

"I'm in a survival mode," said Ale House owner Alex Petro, who employs 20 people at the bar he's owned for the last seven years. 

"We're fighters. We believe we can survive almost anything, we survived the hydro increases," added Petro.

"This hit, because it's happening so quickly, it will affect me to the tune of $7,000 a month minimum." 

Added Costs

Petro said he now has to decide how much to pay employees who make more than their co-workers, but are currently making less than $14 per hour.

"One of the biggest issues for me and this sector will be the experienced cook," said Petro. 

"(They) are now making two to thee dollars more than the minimum wage and will now be at par with the entry level cook coming in," he explained. Petro believes he will have to pay up to $5,000 in additional pay per month to his experienced cooks per month, which could raise the annual cost of a minimum wage to the Ale House by about $144,000.

The Ale House menu focuses on fresh and different food but may have to chance to absorb increases to minimum wage. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Petro said he now has six months to find ways to cut costs or increase revenue to deal with the increase to Ontario's minimum wage.

He's in the middle of planning his summer menu which he said was recently changed to include more complicated and fresher foods. 

"Getting the news of this increase now has basically put me at a stall," said Petro. "I have to now stop thinking about the things that can help improve my business."

Fighting Back

Petro said he wants the province to lengthen the roll-out plan for wage increases but isn't sure how. 

"Petitions, the general way that we as polite Canadians do things, I believe it will not work," said Petro. 

He said he wants small business owners to fight back by banding together and not paying the increase. 

Owner Alex Petro said he wants independent business owners to band together and fight back the minimum wage timeline. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"I think if enough of us can agree to not abide by the increase whether that's through civil disobedience, whatever the case may be, I believe that is the only message she will hear," he said.

When the minimum wage change goes through, Petro thinks that the increase will lead to increased prices for products across the board and won't have a direct impact on his staffing.

Minimum wage increase takes a bite into beer prices in London, Ont.

6 years ago
Duration 0:43
Minimum wage increase takes a bite into beer prices in London, Ont.