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Op-Ed By Satchel Raye
Gainesville Sun, Oct 8, 2020

I was a 30-year-old dishwasher when I got married. I knew my wife loved me for me since I didn’t have any money. Twenty-two years later, I’m still married to the same wonderful woman and now I pay out over $1.5 million in wages each year as the owner of Satchel’s Pizza and Satch Squared in Gainesville. I was secretly an entrepreneur waiting for my chance.

As a lifetime restaurant worker, I knew what it was like to live on low pay that doesn’t even cover the basics. I remember what it felt like having to ask for a 25-cent hourly raise, and I would ask every year.

At 35, I inherited my grandparents’ house and finally had the collateral to borrow money and open that pizza place I always wanted. I knew right away that I was going to pay higher wages and give out dollar raises before people asked because I wanted people to enjoy working for me and I wanted them to be able to make a living.

I opened on a Friday and did a little lunch business and had two tables that first night, bringing in nearly $200 our opening day. People liked the food and brought their friends, and soon I hired a couple more people.

When business was doing well I gave everyone a dollar per hour raise and business kept getting better. I noticed the more I paid people, the better business got. We were all in it together and serving customers with a united spirit.

Paying a living wage is good for everyone. That’s why I support ballot Amendment 2 to raise Florida’s minimum wage.

After 17 years in business, I know that paying people good wages results in getting better employees. While better pay doesn’t guarantee better work, it goes a long way in having people feel pride in what they do. At my restaurant, turnover is low and training new workers isn’t needed as often, which saves us money. Employees really get to know the job, down to every little detail.

Customers notice the staff retention. Not only does it reflect well on how we operate our business, but employees get to know the customers. We’re rooted in our community and it shows. Seeing employees buy houses and have a family is all a rewarding part of giving back to the community that my business is in.

The current minimum wage in Florida is $8.56 an hour. This is too low to live on, plain and simple. Wages have not kept up with the real cost of living and it’s time to do something about it.

Amendment 2 would gradually raise the minimum wage over six years, so it reaches $15 in 2026. It starts with businesses paying $10 per hour in September 2021. It’s an incremental improvement that will then give workers a dollar a year increase for the next five years to close the gap between wages and living expenses. It’s a decent thing to do and the right thing to do.

My business model is based on a quality product, customer service, charitable giving and living wages for employees. All of these things are needed in the recipe for success.

Raising Florida’s minimum wage should be the easiest decision you have to make. It’s time for Florida to lead and succeed.

Satchel Raye is owner of Satchel’s Pizza and Satch Squared in Gainesville.

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Copyright 2020 Satchel Raye