Beloved Seattle café closes because they were ‘crushed’ by ever-growing costs, including city’s new minimum wage

I anxiously wait for comments from the socialist and $15-minimum-wage supporter, Seattle councilmember Kshama Sawant.

government solve all problems

From The owner of a beloved cafe and bakery says the costs to operate in Seattle contributed to the sudden shuttering of its doors.

Alcena Plum, former owner of Louisa’s on Eastlake, says the closure is reflective of a city that is becoming increasingly expensive to be in.

“I don’t want to put this all on the minimum wage, but it was definitely a factor,” she told KIRO Radio’s Tom and Curley. “There were ongoing issues with the business for years.”

Plum says the business was struggling to make ends meet. The city’s minimum wage law, which requires employers with 500 or fewer employees to pay at least $11 an hour by Jan. 1, was hurting Plum’s bottom line, she says.

However, there were other factors that played into the closure. “This type of business doesn’t necessarily bring in enough revenue to employ as many people as I was able to employ before,” Plum said. “Then service goes down because I don’t have enough staff or our wait times are longer for food because I can’t afford to hire enough people in the kitchen. Never mind the huge labor shortage for kitchen staff in this city.”

Plum says it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified candidates — or any candidates at all — to work in the food service industry. The people moving to Seattle and King County are all doing so to work in the tech industry, she says. She’s not wrong.

According to Gene Balk with The Seattle Times, the number of people born in Washington and living in King County declined. Between 2014 and 2015, their number fell by more than 17,000 — a 2 percent drop,” Balk writes. “There are now 850,000 Washington-born residents in the county or 40 percent of its total population.

By the same token, Seattle’s housing market became the hottest in the nation as the booming tech industry drives record population growth, GeekWire reports. Transplants “flock to the region” for tech jobs.

“People are working in tech,” Plum said. “You don’t have people moving into [Seattle] to work in a kitchen … It doesn’t pay the most, although the wages are going up.”

Plum says when she places ads for the cook, she now gets zero response.

What is possibly the most frustrating part of the closure for Plum is she had to put 20 people out of work with only a day’s notice. Some of her employees had worked at Louisa’s for 18 years or more. Plum started a GoFundMe campaign to try and help her former employees.

As far as other restaurants go, Plum says they are probably tackling similar issues. However, some establishments may have multiple restaurants or are backed by more money. “Look who is backing them. Where is money coming from?” Plum asked. “That’s a question above my pay grade. I’m a single mom with a café-bakery. I don’t know how people make this stuff work anymore, to be honest. We were being crushed under the weight of debt and things we weren’t able to pay for anymore.”

Residents of Seattle shouldn’t be surprised if they see menu prices continue to increase due to ever-growing costs, Plum says. As for smaller places like Louisa’s go, Plum doesn’t hold out much hope. “Places like mine won’t survive this.”


8 responses to “Beloved Seattle café closes because they were ‘crushed’ by ever-growing costs, including city’s new minimum wage

  1. Yup, real smooth move there, progressives– it’s the consequences that you achieve, not how cool you look, that matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What happened to pay according to “merit”? Can anyone remember “piece-pay” ? (I forgot what the official title was).

    I know many will lose their minds but I suggest we drop all this minimum wage crap and drop it to the same as waitress pay (a thankless and hard job, indeed) and let the employee either work harder or find another job. Crappy-paying businesses will soon go under if they don’t appreciate good help; as well they should.


  3. This is the saddest of all tales, yet it has been predictable for some time now. What person is going to put their heart and soul into a business . . . only to have all the earnings eaten up by taxes and mandates levied by the government? You would have to be crazy to do such.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. crazy…they cap rents, force the payment of ineffective and expensive insurance (through obamacare), and up the pay so to “help” the poor, but all of their “progressive” efforts will result in the cost going back to the small business owner and ultimately, the consumer. fewer jobs will be available because businesses will close (who can afford all of this?)…then, how will the unemployed have money to pay rent anyways?
    the unemployed become homeless…that’s good news and job security for seattle’s homeless czar but it’s economic suicide via city legislation (i.e. progressivism) for everyone else. maybe seattle will force remaining businesses to offer free housing next….ridiculous.
    their utopian lifestyle is unaffordable on every level.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is heartbreaking. From 1994-1997 I lived around the corner from Louisa’s, on Yale Ave. We went to Louisa’s near-daily: the bus stopped right in front and I’d run in to grab a cup of coffee and a danish on my way to work.

    I’m sure many of the independent small businesses that employed so many students and made Seattle so unique will be put out of business by well-meaning nincompoops. What a shame.

    Boy, this article really hit home. 😕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The people of Washington State should have built a wall and kept fleeing San Francisco types from invading their beautiful state.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really hate to hear of any kind of food industry business folding. Be it a restaurant or grocery store, etc. The thin line for profit is very small. Taxes will eat you alive as well as food costs and utilities.
    It is sad though that our own President made life and business hell for all small business owners.

    Liked by 1 person

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