There’s a reason why every good sitcom features an iconic local restaurant. “Seinfeld” had Monk’s Cafe, “Friends” had Central Perk and “Cheers” had, well, Cheers. These shows reflect what’s true for so many of us, that our favorite local diner, grill, pub or eatery is an important part of our lives and our communities.

As Maine restaurant owners, we’re proud to be part of so many people’s stories. We’re deeply invested in our customers, our employees and our local communities. We believe that all of our neighbors who work hard should be able to support their families. That’s one of the main reasons why we support the referendum on the ballot this November to increase Maine’s minimum wage, including raising the subminimum wage for restaurant servers and other workers who receive tips.

The proposal, advanced by Mainers for Fair Wages, would raise the state’s hourly minimum wage from the current $7.50 to $9 in 2017 and then a dollar a year until it reaches $12 in 2020. The subminimum wage would be raised from $3.75 to $5 in 2017 and then a dollar a year until it reaches $12 in 2024. The wage would then increase with the cost of living, so Mainers never fall so far behind again.

This week, we’re proud to announce that our restaurants are among the more than 50 from Kittery to Lubec that are showing our support for this initiative as part of the Maine Small Business Coalition’s Fair Wage Restaurant Week. Show your support for giving all Mainers a fair wage by visiting our businesses or any of the restaurants listed at this week, June 13-19. Share a photo of your meal on social media with the hashtag #FairWageME, and you will be entered in a drawing to win a gift certificate from a supportive local restaurant.

This campaign will succeed if voters know the truth about how many Mainers live on low wages and how hard it is to make ends meet. Working full time at minimum wage, a single mother takes home only $12,300 a year, or around $300 per week. That means working parents can’t support their children, and working seniors can’t afford to retire.

Almost 160,000 Mainers would see their wages increase if the referendum passes. That’s nearly a quarter of the state’s entire workforce. Women, who are more likely to work low-wage jobs, would be most affected. One in three single parents, including highly skilled working Mainers such as paramedics, home health aides and education techs, would see their incomes increase.

We are among more than 500 business owners who support this referendum. It’s the right thing to do, and it makes good business sense. This initiative would generate millions in new consumer spending, creating jobs and helping to build an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.

Basically, we want more people to be able to afford to eat out at our restaurants. You can see the full list of 500 business owners at

We know it works. In the seven states with higher minimum wages, and with no subminimum wage for tipped workers, restaurants do better than in the rest of the country. The National Restaurant Association predicts that restaurant industry and job growth will be higher than the national average in those seven states this year. Rates of tipping are just as high in those states as well.

The most fundamental reason we support raising the wage, however, is that we respect our employees and believe they deserve a fair wage. We run family businesses, not international chains, and our workers aren’t disposable. Food wouldn’t be cooked or served, and our restaurants wouldn’t succeed without them. They work hard for us; they should be able to support their families and save up for the future. You can’t do that on $300 per week.

Thank you for making us an important part of your lives and please join us this week at one of our restaurants or at any of the many establishments across the state that have endorsed this referendum to raise the minimum wage. Together, we can build a restaurant industry and an economy that works for everyone.


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