Op-Ed By Mary Faucett
Springfield News-Leader (MO), May 12, 2018
I don’t come from money. So, when I thought about opening a restaurant in Springfield 27 years ago, my mind did not go to a fancy dining room with white linen tablecloths and waiters in starched white shirts. I wanted a restaurant that I could afford to eat in. Also, one that felt like family.
What began as a tiny cafe in downtown Springfield has grown into two locations of Bambino’s, one in the Phelps neighborhood and the other in the Half A Hill Historic Mall, with more than 70 employees, including seven members of my family.
Over the years, Bambino’s has garnered numerous awards, among them Best Italian Dining, Best Italian Restaurant in the Ozarks, Best Date-Night Dinner and Best Dinner Place to Take Your Parents.
But for all our growth and good fortune, we still want Bambino’s to be that affordable, friendly, low-key restaurant I set my sights on all those years ago.
That’s why we support the effort to put an initiative on the ballot that would allow Missouri voters to approve a gradual increase in our minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023.
We want everyone in Springfield to be able to afford our ziti or a slice of cake. Unfortunately, that is simply not possible for too many working people in Missouri. These are people whose current budgets will never allow for a dinner at Bambino’s. And that is a shame, for their families and for ours.
It’s also a loss for other small neighborhood business owners because the reality is, the more money people have, the more they spend. And more people spending money on food, diapers or repairs helps businesses across the board. When wages are raised at the bottom, money goes right back into our businesses and the larger community.
That’s why we’ve committed to paying above the minimum wage. We’ve seen from experience that paying a decent wage has many benefits. It helps us recruit and retain great people, and it significantly cuts down on turnover costs — something that hurts all business owners.
Voluntarily paying above the minimum wage — when large chains pay rock bottom — isn’t always easy. But we are committed to fairness — in wages and in prices — as well as growing our business. When Missouri raises the minimum wage, and all businesses, including the large chains, have to pay a decent wage, it will level the playing field for us little guys and help us grow our business.
Feeding people is what we’re about. Raising the minimum wage will help us fill our tables, provide good employment for local workers and support our schools and community activities.
Raising the minimum wage will boost Missouri businesses and strengthen our communities.
Mary Faucett is the owner of Bambino’s in Springfield and a member of Missouri Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.
Copyright 2018 Mary Faucett
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