2019-06-02 —

``Surging costs are squeezing profit margins faster than barkeeps can pull pints. And nervous owners fear the latest high-profile push by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to raise the minimum wage for tipped employees will, if enacted, trigger more industry layoffs even as businesses introduce labor-saving technology and streamline their services.


On Friday, AOC was in Jackson Heights as the featured bartender at The Queensboro Restaurant to campaign for the Raise the Wage Act. Her presence sent tremors through the industry. The law would catapult the minimum wage for tipped employees by more than 600 percent, flattening margins for many businesses in New York -- and hurting many workers, who oppose the law. That's because many customers are likely to trim or stop tipping altogether, as operators raise food and liquor prices, according to industry lobbyists


The same policy promoted by AOC, a one-time bartender in New York, is blamed for shuttering her former employer The Coffee Shop, because of rising labor costs from higher wage regulations. The Coffee Shop's co-owner, Charles Milite, says New York's rising minimum wages resulted in the loss of 130 jobs overall for the Union Square operation.

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