Despite a one-year reprieve for small businesses, Obamacare remains a looming uncertainty for restaurants and others.
Small-business owners just don't have the resources to unravel the complexities of Obamacare themselves, so they are unable to prepare, said John Barney, president of Barney Enterprises, which operates several Wendy's restaurants in the region.
Even corporate parent companies are “scared to death” to tell franchisees what to do, Barney said.
In August, the Obama administration delayed until Jan. 1, 2015, the mandate that businesses with 50 or more full-time employees offer those workers health insurance. But small businesses are still subject to other requirements and are still unsure of how they can comply with the 2015 mandate.
In the meantime, restaurant revenues have been steady to slightly improving, with high gasoline prices still the biggest challenge, Barney said.
Higher gas prices cut down on the disposable income of customers and also reduce the driving they do, both critical elements in determining traffic at fast food and other restaurants.