Tom Douglas says $15 will force a quarter of restaurants in the city to close, maybe shutter some of his… then keeps on opening more restaurants

Tom Douglas is Seattle’s best known restauranteur, controlling an ever-growing restaurant empire. While Douglas has stated support for higher wages generally, he vociferously opposed the $15 minimum wage law, as he opposed Seattle’s paid sick days law a few years earlier.

What they said

  • 3/11/2014: "I don't know that it would put us out of business, but I would say we would lose maybe a quarter of the restaurants in town, would be my guess."
  • 4/3/2014: "Maybe there are too many restaurants and this will be a natural way to cull out the weakest among them. I do have some concern that we would have to shutter some of ours, but if that’s what the voters want then so be it.…This minimum wage issue could, depending on the outcome, be the most serious threat to our ability to compete so far."
  • 5/1/2014: "Maybe there are too many restaurants. Maybe some of mine need to close. So be it."

What happened

Despite his doom & gloom predications about the impact of higher pay (and sick leave before that), the years since the $15 movement was sparked by the Seattle fast food strikes have been good ones for Douglas. He’s opened 5 new outlets in just the past couple years: (Assembly Hall, Home Remedy, Tanaka San, Serious Pie Pike, and Cantina Lena).

Now, a year after Seattle passed the $15 minimum wage law, Douglas’s 18th restaurant, the Carlile Room, is slated to open this summer.

All of his restaurants are in Seattle. And there are far more restaurants in the city now than there were when predicted a 25% decline.

(BTW, it's not just Tom Douglas...)