By Michael Saltsman
San Francisco’s ever-rising minimum wage—set to hit $15 next year—has restaurant owners asking for the check. “At Least 60 Bay Area Restaurants Have Closed Since September,” read a January headline at the website SFist, which partly blamed “the especially high cost of doing business in SF, with a mandated, rising minimum wage that does not exempt tipped employees.” Another publication, Eater, described the rash of recent closures as a “death march.”
Perhaps the highest-profile closure in San Francisco this year was AQ, which in 2012 was a James Beard Award finalist for the best new restaurant in America. Rising costs chipped away at the restaurant’s profitability, according to a report by Thrillist, driving down the profit margin from 8.5% in 2012 to 1.5% by 2015.
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