SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The sadness of loss and the sweet potential of new choices mixed together like the ingredients of the famed baklava and other treats that have delighted customers at Opa! Opa! — all of it will soon be a taste of the past.
Come Dec. 16, the 13 employees who have served thousands will be out of a job and the seats of the local Greek restaurant will remain as empty as they were on Monday.
“Well, I can imagine it being this quiet because it will be. It’s mixed feelings for me, for us,” said Opa! Opa! owner Phil Courey.
Monday closures were one tactic Courey tried to stay in the game but it wasn’t enough to save his business, which he said has been strangled by the state ramp up to a $15 per hour minimum wage.
“Most of our margins have been consumed by the minimum wage pressures,” Courey said.
Regular customers like Larry Siebel said it will be a loss but he understood the wage issue.
“That’s tough to get around. I can understand,” Siebel said. “But maybe raise their prices. I’d pay more.”
Prices are already up 53% from when he first started but Courey said all that has done is turn customers away.
Three years ago, as some pushed loudly for wage increases in Sacramento, Courey was one of the voices pushing back against the city’s and the state’s plans. He said then that fattening paychecks would lead to the starvation and eventual death of businesses like his.
Now, the death he predicted is imminent while those who backed the hikes still say they are a good idea.
“If you’re gonna run a business, you should have a business plan that accounts for you paying your employees a living wage,” Dramer said.
Courey said he’s all for that just not at the dollar-a-year hike the state has mandated.
He had tough words for California’s role in all this, claiming the more employers have to pay staff “the more they have to withhold.”
“And they take that withholding and they put it into the general fund. And that fund is swept every day for float, which is interest,” says Courey.
Now, Courey said he’s looking to the future.
“Our hummus is better than really most hummus you will ever have,” he told FOX40. “Maybe there’s an idea in that right there.”