Popular Restaurant Stops Lunch Service Amid California’s New Minimum Wage Law

Source: GoFundMe

The owners of the popular Moonstone Bistro in downtown Springfield shocked loyal customers this week, announcing that the restaurant will no longer offer lunch service starting next month. Citing rising costs, particularly increased wages from recent minimum wage hikes in the city, ownership decided the midday meal was no longer financially viable.

For the past two decades, Moonstone Bistro has been a staple of the Springfield culinary scene, gaining acclaim for artfully prepared dishes featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant helped establish the city as a foodie destination and has won numerous awards from local and national media.

Moonstone Bistro Stops Lunch Service Due to Minimum Wage Increases

Moonstone Bistro, a popular fine-dining establishment in Redding, California, recently announced that it is discontinuing its lunch service. According to reports, this decision was prompted by rising minimum wage laws in the state that have significantly increased costs for business owners.

Source: Unsplash/ Mihai Moisa

Owners Che and Tanya Stedman opted to end the lunch offerings at Moonstone Bistro as a strategic measure to protect profit margins while avoiding staff layoffs. Despite lower profits from the lunch service, this choice was essential for the business’s financial stability. The Stedmans emphasized the importance of being able to retain employees.

Challenges of Competing Wages in the Industry

Che Stedman, executive chef and co-owner, expressed concern regarding increasing wage demands in the restaurant industry. In response, he highlighted the fundamental role that business owners like himself and his wife play in creating and sustaining jobs.

Source: Unsplash/ RR Abrot

The Stedmans have operated Moonstone Bistro for 18 years, demonstrating their long-term dedication to providing exceptional dining experiences. Despite difficulties, their commitment to the restaurant and its patrons remains unaltered.

Strategic Move to Maintain Current Staffing Levels

In response to increasing operational costs, the owners of Moonstone Bistro recently announced the discontinuation of lunch services. This strategic decision aims to maintain current staffing levels and ensure the restaurant’s long-term viability.

Source: Unsplash/ Camille Chen

According to reports, Moonstone Bistro has provided fine dining experiences in Redding, California, for 18 years. Owners Che and Tanya Stedman attribute their decision to cease lunch offerings to rising wage laws in the state, including a $20 per hour minimum wage for fast food employees.

Strategic Move to Maintain Current Staffing Levels

To protect profit margins and avoid layoffs, the Stedmans opted to end lunch service. Despite lower profits from these offerings, maintaining employee levels was crucial for the business. As Che Stedman emphasized, “We want to be able to hire people.”

Source: Unsplash/ Patrick Tomasso

The rising wages in the restaurant industry have been an ongoing concern for the Stedmans. In response to criticisms regarding their decision, Che Stedman highlighted the foundational role that business owners play, stating, “Tanya and I are the reason why this business exists, not the opposite.” He articulated the expenses they incur, including “huge taxes, fees, licenses, inspections, Workman’s Comp, insurance, you name it.”

Focusing on Profitable Services for Business Stability

Eliminating lunch service allows Moonstone Bistro to reduce costs and liabilities, ensuring stability amid economic pressures. As Che Stedman explained, “For us, we cannot accept more liability and expense. We have to pay our rent, too.”

Source: Unsplash/ daan evers

Dinner service has long been central to Moonstone Bistro’s success and popularity. The Stedmans remain dedicated to providing exceptional culinary experiences, especially through dinner. Whether under current or new ownership, dinner will continue to be the restaurant’s focal point.

The Challenges of Competing With Fast Food Wages

The minimum wage increases in California have presented small business owners with significant challenges. Moonstone Bistro, a fine dining restaurant in Redding, recently discontinued its lunch service in response to rising costs from the new laws.

Source: Unsplash/ Marco Lastella

According to the executive chef and co-owner, Che Stedman, competing for both experienced and inexperienced cooks has become increasingly difficult given the wages offered by fast food chains. In an interview, Stedman questioned how much he would need to pay an experienced cook when inexperienced staff can make $20 per hour at a chain like Taco Bell.

Protecting Profit Margins

In order to protect their profit margins and avoid laying off any of their 16 employees, the owners decided to end lunch service, which was necessary. Despite lunch being less profitable, maintaining staffing levels was crucial for the financial health of the business.

Source: Unsplash/ Jay Wennington

Stedman articulated the various expenses business owners face, including taxes, licenses, insurance, and workers’ compensation. He expressed feeling unfairly blamed for broader economic issues, pointing out that “We, as business owners, do not feel that we are the ones exploiting people. We pay huge taxes, fees, licenses, inspections, Workman’s Comp, insurance, you name it.”

Exploring Sale of Restaurant After 18 Years of Ownership

According to KRCR News, owners Che and Tanya Stedman have opted to discontinue lunch service at Moonstone Bistro, a popular fine-dining restaurant in Redding, CA. This strategic decision aims to reduce expenses and maintain profitability after the state’s minimum wage rose to $16 per hour.

Source: Unsplash/ Rohan G

Though the wage increase does not directly impact Moonstone Bistro, the overall rise in operating costs and employee compensation has influenced their decision. Discontinuing the lunch menu is a tactical move to avoid raising menu prices or reducing staff. KRCR reports that the Stedmans intend to protect their 16 employees’ jobs.

Call for Government Support of Small Businesses

Entrepreneurs like the Stedmans seek a system that facilitates rather than inhibits small businesses. Chef Stedman advocates simplifying processes and reducing costs, stating, “Make that path easier. Make it less expensive, make it more simple, and streamline it.

Source: Unsplash/ Zachariah Hagy

The situation highlights the precarious position of small business owners, reliant on the goodwill and patronage of communities to continue operations. By adapting to limit less profitable services, Moonstone Bistro aims not to undervalue workers but to continue providing employment and culinary experiences.

Is There Hope?

As Moonstone Bistro discontinues its lunch service to grapple with increasing costs, it’s clear the popular local eatery faces challenging decisions to remain viable. While the loss of the lunch menu is unfortunate for customers and staff alike, focusing resources on dinner and events is a prudent business move to navigate financial pressures.

Source: Unsplash/ Ivan Stern

The bistro has been an integral part of the community for over a decade. With the continued support of loyal patrons and strategic adjustments to operations, Moonstone Bistro will hopefully find a path to thrive for years to come. Though change can be difficult, the bistro’s willingness to evolve with the times inspires confidence in its ability to survive and prosper.

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Charlotte Clad

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