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Small business owner says he'll take financial hit with new minimum wage increase

Little Anthony's Diner
Posted at 7:04 AM, Jan 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-01 22:29:43-05

Tucson, Ariz. -- A small business owner in Tucson says he is going to take a big financial hit this year, due to the minimum wage increase.

The change will make the new minimum wage $12, which is a dollar increase from last year.

Tony Terry is the proud owner of the Gaslight Theater and Little Anthony’s, among other businesses.

He is already paying people $12 an hour as an entry-level position. Terry says his employees that do not have an entry level position make more than that.

And while he says his employees deserve the extra pay, he is still going to take a big financial hit with the new change.

“I started the Gaslight Theater 42 years ago,” said Terry.

In fact, it was not long before he opened up Little Anthony’s, a 50s themed diner, and later came Grandma Tony’s pizza--which now has three locations..

Both Little Anthony’s and Grandma’s Pizza have been around for over 30 years, but Tony’s business mindset did not let him stop there.

“We just opened up the Gaslight Musical in Oro Valley and that’s in our fourth year right now,” he added.

He says these are all independent businesses that need some serious manpower to stay open.

“I have about 220 employees that rely on me for their family’s livelihood,” Terry told KGUN9.

Terry says the new minimum wage increase will definitely have a significant impact on his businesses.

“The net effect to me is about $100,000 a year. I’ve got to sell about $300,000 more to net that. So I have to increase my sales between the sick leave and the minimum wage by about $600,000 a year,” he added.

For these reasons, Terry says in order to stay in business, he will have to make some changes.

“I have to do it with fewer people and I have to have more out of each employee that works for me, and unfortunately we have to raise our prices. It’s difficult. It hurts,” Terry said.

Though Terry adds, he prepared for the $12 minimum wage increase, to ensure ensure a close to seamless transition. However he admits, smaller businesses may not be able to survive the new business demands.

And even though Terry has made some difficult decisions, he has no doubt the new year will continue bringing him and his working family every bit of success.

“Of course we are going to overcome it. We are going to come to work every day and I’m going to have a great place to work for my 220 employees, and they are going to support their families and I’m going to support my family and that’s going to be the future,” he told KGUN9.

While Terry says the increase in the minimum wage will hurt him from a business standpoint, he feels his employees, especially the ones who have been with him for more than 15 years, deserve it.