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CONTACT: Bob Keener, 617-610-6766,
Erin Musgrave, Erin Musgrave, 530-864-7014,

Annapolis, March 28, 2019 — Small business owners and business leaders across Maryland are applauding the final passage of a statewide minimum wage increase to $15. After a veto by Governor Hogan yesterday, both chambers of the General Assembly voted today to override the veto.

“Business leaders across Maryland supported a statewide minimum wage increase to $15, and we are delighted today to see this pass,” said Alissa Barron-Menza, Vice President of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “It’s bad for business when people working full-time can’t afford basic needs. An increase in the state’s minimum wage to $15 will boost consumer spending, increase employee productivity and reduce the strain on the public safety net. It’s a win-win-win for Maryland business, workers and the economy.”

Maryland business owners commented today in support of a $15 minimum wage:

Christopher Vigilante, owner of Vigilante Coffee Co., with locations in Hyattsville and College Park, said, “The cost of living has far outpaced wages. When people working full-time can’t afford the basics, how can we expect them to stop by Vigilante’s for a cup of coffee? Businesses across the state will now reap the benefits of increased consumer demand as workers have more money in their pockets. Raising the minimum wage to $15 will raise everyone one up.”

Gina Schaefer, owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a group of 11 Ace Hardware stores in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, including Canton Ace Hardware, Federal Hill Ace Hardware and Waverly Ace Hardware in Baltimore and Old Takoma Ace Hardware in Takoma Park, said, “We support raising Maryland’s minimum wage to $15. Better entry wages have helped my business succeed. Raising the minimum wage in Maryland to $15 is going to help our state succeed and make it more possible for all our communities to thrive.”

Ned Atwater, owner of Atwater’s Traditional Food, with six locations across Baltimore, Catonsville and Towson, said, “We support this increase in Maryland’s minimum wage to $15. When you pay your employees a decent wage, they tend to stick with you and grow with you. Lower turnover saves money and time in hiring and training costs, and more experienced staff are more efficient and productive and generate less food waste in our kitchens. And happy employees provide the best customer service. This increase will be good for our state’s economy and communities.”

Brian England, owner of B.A. Auto Care in Columbia, whose awards include Maryland Small Business of the Year, said, “Raising the minimum wage lifts everyone up. This increase will infuse communities across Maryland with stronger consumer spending, decrease the strain on the social safety net and strengthen the economy.”

Tim Cureton, owner of Rise Up Coffee Roasters with eight locations in St. Michael’s, Salisbury, Easton, Ocean City, Cambridge, Annapolis and Edgewater, said, “I’m proud to support raising the minimum wage to $15 because my business and employees have both benefited tremendously from paying and earning living wages. Rise Up Coffee Roasters is proof that paying a living wage is an effective way to grow a business, create jobs, and attract enthusiastic workers.”

Annebeth Bunker, owner of Annebeth’s in Annapolis, said, “Last year, we celebrated 20 years serving customers on historic Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. Fair pay helps us hire and retain good people, and it boosts morale. More experienced employees can also take better care of your customers. In retail, good customer service makes all the difference in keeping customers or losing them. I support the increase to $15.”

Karim Morsli, owner of Winkler Automotive Service Center in Gaithersburg, said, “You’ll hear some argue that a low minimum wage is what helps small businesses compete. This is backwards thinking. To thrive, small businesses need good employees that are part of the community and a strong customer base who can afford their products and services – both of which we’ve accomplished by raising the minimum wage.”

Michael Lastoria, co-founder and CEO of &pizza, which has locations in Hyattsville, Baltimore, Bethesda, North Bethesda, Gaithersburg and Germantown, said, “When you take care of your people, they take care of your customers, and your business thrives. As a result of fair wages, we’ve seen higher employee productivity and retention. Our employee morale has skyrocketed, and with it, our customer experience and our bottom line. Our employees have become our loudest brand ambassadors.” 

These and other business leaders are available for comment and/or broadcast bookings. To schedule an interview, contact Bob Keener at or 617-610-6766 or Erin Musgrave at or 530-864-7014.


Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives and business organizations that believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.