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John Puckett, co-owner of the eight-unit fast-casual Punch Pizza chain based in Minneapolis, was spotlighted by the president during the State of the Union address. The chain recently announced that it raised its entry-level hourly pay to $10 per hour and had this to say about it:

“Our decision had nothing to do with politics; that’s what makes the recognition by the president and first lady such an honor. Punch made the decision to give raises purely based on what is best for our business and our employees. We believe our investment in our people and training will give us an advantage in quality food and superb service in fast-casual food.”

Don Fox, chief executive of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Firehouse of America LLC, commented on the impact of states raising the minimum wage:

“When a state establishes a minimum wage higher than the federal standard, there is a ripple effect on the entire hourly and salary wage structure in the restaurant. … Many operators then have little choice other than to raise prices in response to an increase in the minimum wage.

“And worst of all, depending upon just how much variation there is in labor costs from state to state, the operator may conclude that operating in some areas is simply not a prudent option.”

Andy Puzder, chief executive of the 3,413-unit Carpinteria, Calif.-based CKE Inc., parent to the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands, teamed with economist Arthur B. Laffer in an Investors.com column Wednesday titled “Minimum Wage Hike Will Hurt Poor, Young, Minorities.” This is an excerpt:

“Conceptually, of course, there is no question that raising the minimum wage will cost some people their jobs. It will also reduce the hours worked for others, raise the prices of products made by minimum-wage employees and incentivize businesses over the long run to automate and thus eliminate minimum-wage workers.

“Most of all, it will reduce economic growth, the only real long-run hope for alleviating poverty.”

Ron Ruggless contributed to this report.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout