RESTAURANTS: Obamacare, minimum wage could be one-two punch

The Times Board of Economists - Update from John Barney, president Barney Enterprises
2014-02-02T00:00:00Z 2014-02-02T00:05:53Z RESTAURANTS: Obamacare, minimum wage could be one-two punchBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com
February 02, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Uncertainty continues to haunt the restaurant industry, which finds itself facing the sweeping changes mandated by Obamacare and following carefully the national debate on the minimum wage.

More fuel was added to the fire Tuesday, when President Barack Obama called in his State of the Union Address for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

"It will affect our industry and affect it significantly," said John Barney, president of Barney Enterprises. "I'm troubled by putting both of those on us at the same time."

The quick service food industry, including the Wendy's restaurants run by Barney Enterprises, also is feeling the pinch from the frigid weather and frequent storms that have marked this winter so far.

"We are a victim of the amount of traffic that goes up and down the road," Barney said.

Restaurants are also keeping an eye on the price of basic inputs. The recent sharp increase in beef prices is particularly worrisome because a historically low number of cattle means those prices could stay elevated for some time.

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