Anti-minimum wage zealots from Fox News to Forbes magazine to Shift Washington to even less credible corners of the net have been going batty with excitement over the idea that Seattle has become a restaurant desert in advance of the first phase-in towards our $15 minimum wage, set to begin on April 1st. It even made it into a New York Post editorial.
It all came out of a Seattle Magazine piece which asked "Why are so many Seattle restaurants closing lately?"
Anyone within spitting distance of Seattle knows that the city — and especially its restaurant industry — is booming. But that's not the most ridiculous thing about this story.
And none of the restaurants cited wages. But that's not the most ridiculous thing about this story either.
The most ridiculous thing is that the original Seattle Magazine article actually lists more new restaurant openings than closings.
No joke. The article that launched a speculative bubble names at most four restaurants which are closing:
- Shanik (which cited a poor fit with its neighborhood)
- Little Uncle (which closed a location owners said was too large and opened a takout window)
- Boat Street Cafe (the owner has three other restaurants is opening two more, and a neighboring restaurant is expanding into the space)
(The article also names Jason Stratton, who is leaving three restaurants to move to Spain, but the restaurants are not closing. Is he supposedly a refugee fleeing to Spain because of Seattle's minimum wage?)
It's not clear that Little Uncle and Boat Street Cafe should even count as closing, but let's be generous with the doomsday credit and count four.
The very same article lists 5 new openings:
- Nue (cited as the 100th opening in a single neighborhood in 3 years)
- Serious Pie Pike
- Gnocchi Bar
That's right. Five. The same article being sent around the crazysphere as proof that Seattle restaurants are closing... actually lists 5 openings and at most 4 closings.
Lots of restaurants open and close in any given year, and anecdotal exchanges of lists of openings and closing are a silly way to argue. But it's even sillier to argue restaurants are going dark when your anecdotal list includes more openings than closings!
The wide circulation of this story is proof of slapdash argument-making, sloppy link-checking, and rabid nonsense. The story in question doesn't contain even a little bit of evidence that Seattle restaurants are "going dark" because of the minimum wage.
Because they're not.