Southeast Missourian: Gabriele Ruggieri: Cape restaurant owner endorses minimum wage ballot issue

Op-Ed By Gabriele Ruggieri
Southeast Missourian, October 23, 2018

Since I was a child, watching my mother make the traditional meals of Sicily, I knew I wanted to build a life around cooking. But after years of working in hotels and restaurants around the world, I wanted greater opportunity. I wanted my own restaurant, a place that -- like my mother's kitchen -- would not only showcase Italian cooking but embody the warmth and inclusiveness of the hospitality I grew up with.

The community I chose was Cape Girardeau. In 2016, I opened Gabriel's Food + Wine in the Historic District. Since then, Gabriel's has become a community fixture, a place to have pasta with the family, celebrate special occasions or enroll the kids in our children's cooking classes.

I didn't envision opportunity for myself alone -- I also wanted to create long-term opportunities for personal and financial growth among my employees. That began with paying my employees a fair wage. And it's why I support Proposition B to raise Missouri's minimum wage to $12 by 2023.

Investing in my employees -- and the Cape Girardeau community -- by paying higher wages makes me feel good. And it's smart business. Instead of paying low wages and suffering from high turnover, we have dedicated employees, which saves me from continually spending time and money in hiring and training new staff.

I have only to look around the dining room and see the level of service -- one of the most frequently cited points in customer reviews -- to know that good treatment breeds more of the same.

Missouri's minimum wage of $7.85 an hour is too low for even full-time workers to afford the basics, let alone go out for a special meal every now and then. It hurts businesses and the economy when working people can't make ends meet and have to struggle to keep food on the table and a roof overhead. Raising the minimum wage will give businesses in Cape Girardeau and across Missouri a stronger customer base. ...

Gabriele Ruggieri is the owner of Gabriel's Food + Wine located in Cape Girardeau and a member of Missouri Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.

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Copyright 2018 Gabriele Ruggieri

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