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This result shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Inflation has driven up operational costs for businesses across the US and shrunk profit margins for major food chains in the past few years.  This has led to higher menu prices (like the “$18 Big Mac”) and slowing sales for every major fast food company.  Another anchor dragging on the restaurant business in many regions was at least two years of covid stimulus coupled with rent moratoriums, creating aggressive labor shortages and raising wages in upwards of $16 per hour for brand new no-skill employees.

Small chains and mom-and-pop businesses simply can’t compete.  Larger chains raised prices but have also been forced to reduce employees and labor costs through automation, but the layoffs are just getting started.

Enter California’s “FAST Recovery Act” passed into law in 2022 and going into effect in April of this year – The legislation requires a particular set of food chains dealing in certain kinds of products outlined in the law to raise their minimum wages (already at $16 an hour on average) to $20 an hour.  The income increase is limited to chains that have 60 or more locations in the state of California (meaning, the combined number of locations regardless of who owns them must be higher than 60)  Keep in mind that while many of these chains are associated with international corporations, they are owned and run by franchisees; they are still family run businesses.

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