Over the past six months, sales at our family-owned restaurant, Bubba’s Roadhouse & Saloon, have dropped by double digits because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, if Ballot Amendment 2 passes in November with a $15 mandatory minimum wage hike, it could put my employees out of work and me out of business for good.

This disastrous ballot amendment will only stall our economic recovery in Southwest Florida, and all across our state. Employees at restaurants like mine will be paid $15 an hour, from part-time students at FGCU to folks who have decades of experience in the industry.

Most small businesses of any kind cannot support this kind of hit. I know mine can’t because we’ve already done the math. In the first year, it would cost my business an additional $86,000 to change the pay of our workers. Each year after, the costs would continue ballooning, and in five years it would be an additional $354,000 for payroll.

For our business, like so many others I have spoken to, that translates directly into job losses. We cannot afford to cover a mandated exponential growth in payroll without trimming costs and raising prices. We’ll most likely have to cut employees.

If we can’t make ends meet, we’ll be forced to shut our doors. We’ve been in business for more than 25 years. The last thing we want to do is let down our employees and our customers.

Ballot Amendment 2 will be on your ballot in November, and I — along with my workers — encourage you to vote no. The math just does not make sense, especially while so many small and family-owned businesses are already struggling.

We know dozens of restaurants in Southwest Florida have already closed because of COVID, and this would wipe out dozens, if not hundreds, more.

Not only will we be forced to cut staff and cut hours to make ends meet, businesses will also have to raise prices. That means your dollar just won’t go as far. I worry about my customers who can’t afford to pay more for their meal. Going out to eat is a treat for so many seniors in Southwest Florida living on a fixed income, and if prices go up — as they will — seniors will not be able to afford a meal out a couple times a week.

In other cities across the nation, where governments implemented a huge mandatory wage hike like this one, it hurt the very employees it was supposed to help. Most tipped employees make far more than $15 an hour, and they will be taking home less money at the end of the day if this passes.

In Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., many business owners introduced a service charge to help meet the rising costs of payroll. With the added service charge, customers stopped tipping. And without tips, those employees lost revenue they counted on. What’s more, many businesses closed, and thousands of employees were left without a job completely.

This is going to negatively impact the people that this amendment says it is going to help. It is bad for owners, bad for workers and bad for our customers. It’s just plain bad for business. It scares me to know how many businesses across our region will close, and how many individuals will lose good-paying jobs that support their families.

I’m going to the polls in November, and I am going to vote no on Ballot Amendment 2. My employees also understand the risks and plan to vote no. Please join us, and support small businesses and our employees who will be the ones hurting the most as businesses shut down. Vote no on Ballot Amendment 2. 

Jay Johnson is the owner of Bubba’s Roadhouse & Saloon in Cape Coral.