Greenville restauranteur Carl Sobocinski testifies before Senate budget committee on proposed minimum wage increase


GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Prominent Greenville restauranteur Carl Sobocinski, who is the president of the Table 301 restaurant group, testified before U.S. senators Thursday about a proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Table 301 includes several popular restaurants in Greenville such as Soby’s and Nose Dive.

Sobocinski said he dosen’t think raising the minimum wage should be a one size fits all approach.

Sobesinki said the the increase to a $15 an hour minimum wage would hurt small businesses like his.

“$15 an hour in New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., is not the same as $15 an hour in Greenville, South Carolina,” he said.

He said that kind of wage increase would hurt already the already struggling restaurant industry.

“The exact people you’re trying to help will very likely end up with diminished wages if we eliminate the tip credit, lose their jobs to technology, or lose jobs in general,” he said.

A server who works for a national restaurant chain in Greenville told 7News she worries about the same thing.

“Losing hours, losing a job…Even though $15 an hour does sound great, it would be harder to find a job possibly,” said server Alexzandria Wahrer.

The proposal would affect more than just restaurant workers.

Jori Green makes $12.50 hour in an Upstate warehouse, but she said that’s still not enough for her to find permanent housing in Greenville and support her family without government aid.

Senate budget committee Chairman Bernie Sanders argued the government shouldn’t be subsidizing workers’ wages when big businesses are making billions.

But Sobocinski and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who invited him to testify, worry small businesses and their employees would be disproportionately hurt by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“I am not opposing a minimum wage increase, but I’m looking for a common sense approach to this,” Sobocinski said. “This is not a one size fits all solution.”

President Biden has included a gradual raise to $15 an hour over five years as part of his Covid relief package. If that proposal dosen’t make it in the final bill, the president has said he will continue to support it other legislation.

The House majority leader has said the house will bring that Covid relief bill to a vote Friday.

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