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Vermont’s Popolo Restaurant Tackles The Issue With Its “Living Wage Adjustment.”

Bellows Falls, VT – With a national dialog raging about a higher minimum wage, a small town Vermont restaurant has a new mission: to ensure that every one of its employees earns at least $15.00 per hour.

In 2012, friends of Bellows Falls decided it needed a downtown restaurant. The village’s only full-service eatery had burned down years ago. Meanwhile, a historic building sat mostly unused for decades. The group put two and two together and hatched a business plan. To raise money they took their idea to the community and soon, with twenty-five investors, they opened Popolo, with farm-to-table cuisine and an intimate music venue.

To address the minimum wage, Popolo’s directors have once again reached out to the community for support. The plan is simple; ask each diner for an additional contribution based on a fixed percentage of their purchase.

Popolo calls this charge “The Living Wage Adjustment.”

“Six percent is the magic number for Popolo,” says Gary Smith, the restaurant’s general manager, “I’m sure it’s different for every employer but based on our previous experience, six percent will cover the pay increase here.”

While servers manage to earn a reasonable wage by the inclusion of gratuities, now there’s the Living Wage Adjustment for everyone else.

Asked why Popolo didn’t just raise its prices, Mr. Smith makes it clear, “That strategy also adds more tax to the bill. We think explaining the plan with complete transparency not only offers a better deal to our customers, it reminds them they’re all helping to guarantee our workers enough to live.”

Smith has consulted with the Vermont Department of Taxes who agree that, as long as the restaurant follows some simple rules about the notice and disbursement of this revenue, the charge will not be subject to Rooms and Meals Tax so all of the additional revenue will go to employees.

The topic of a $15.00 Federal minimum wage is receiving much attention nowadays with Presidential Candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont one of the most vocal proponents. Though Vermont’s minimum wage is now $9.60 per hour, the Federal minimum wage is only $7.25. Some cities have already increased the minimum wage with an eventual target of $15.00 per hour.

Popolo and its shareholders feel that waiting for the increase doesn’t fit with the company’s principles. They’ve adopted the Living Wage Adjustment as an immediate remedy.

“Many small contributions make this improvement possible,” Smith says, “There aren’t many diners who will balk at spending a couple dollars more to secure quality of life for our workers. It’s part of the cost of dining out.”

The new charge begins the weekend of June 10.

For more information contact Gary Smith at Popolo at gary@popolo.us or visit www.popolomeanspeople.com.


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