California Ice Cream Parlor Forced to Close Due to $20 Minimum Wage Increase

Monica Navarro, a former assistant general manager at Foster’s Freeze in Lemoore, shared her dismay on the impact of California’s newly enacted $20 minimum wage on small businesses during a recent interview on “The Bottom Line,” hosted by Fox Business.

Navarro expressed her shock at the sudden closure of Foster’s Freeze, leaving employees blindsided without any prior notice. “It would have been nice to have a notice so we could go get some applications [out], I could prepare them,” she lamented.

The closure decision came abruptly on Easter Monday morning, catching Navarro and her team off guard. Loren Wright, the owner, cited the inability to absorb the wage hike as the primary reason behind the closure, emphasizing the urgency to avoid disrupting Easter Sunday.

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Navarro recounted the moment when her coworkers were about to clock in for their shifts, only to receive the news of the closure. “Two of my coworkers were actually going in to clock in for the morning. And right after that, that’s when I got a phone call that we were closing,” she shared.

Reflecting on discussions with management, Navarro revealed that the minimum wage increase was pinpointed as the decisive factor in the restaurant’s downfall. “He did blame it on the minimum wage increase,” Navarro said, clarifying that the hike still had detrimental effects despite exemptions.

Navarro expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of the minimum wage increase in attracting more workers, citing closures of other local businesses as evidence of its adverse impacts. “I honestly don’t think it will work. This is not the first business that’s closing. There’s already a few local businesses for me that are closing, so I feel like this is just only the beginning,” she cautioned.

In solidarity with her former colleagues, Navarro emphasized their preference for job security over wage increases. “From the people that I spoke to, my employees, we would have rather stayed at the wage that we did have before, just because now we don’t have a job,” she emphasized.

The aftermath of the closure has left workers grappling with reduced hours and increased workloads in neighboring businesses affected by the wage hike. Navarro highlighted the challenges faced by those still employed in areas where the hourly rate surged to $20.

As California grapples with the repercussions of its minimum wage policy, Navarro’s account emphasizes the complexities and real-life consequences faced by small businesses and their employees.

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