California Fast Food Prices Soar As Minimum Wage Hike Takes Toll on Businesses, Workers, and Customers

2024-04-20 15:00:36

The state of California seems hellbent on making life a living hell for middle-class residents, as evidenced not just by their soft-on-crime policies but by the minimum wage increase that went into effect at the beginning of April.

Though the $20/hour wage was ostensibly designed to help minimum wage workers, it has had the opposite effect, with fast food restaurants in the Democrat-run state slashing jobs and hours, implementing hiring freezes, and/or bringing in self-serve kiosks to ease the financial burden.

Something else they’ve had to do is raise prices on the food they serve, with prices going up as much as eight percent at some locations according to a new study:

Wendy’s has hiked prices by roughly 8% while Chipotle has raised prices by 7.5%, according to data from Kalinowski Equity Research and cited in The New York Post.

Taco Bell raised menu prices by 3% and Burger King hiked prices by 2%, the report found.

Seattle-based Starbucks increased prices by about 7% in California.


Chipotle raised the price of its Chicken Burrito by 8.3% and the Steak Burrito by 7%, while Burger King increased the price of its Whopper Meal by an average of 1.4%, according to KER.

The California Restaurant Association correctly pointed out that all of this happening was very “predictable”:

In response to the price increases, the California Restaurant Association said they were the “entirely predictable” results of the minimum wage increase.

“Since it took effect, job losses, reduced working hours, restaurant closures and higher prices for California’s inflation-weary consumers have been ongoing,” the group said.

One California fast-food restaurant franchisee who owns 180 different restaurants announced this month that he would be rolling out self-service kiosks in all of his restaurants over the next 60 days:

Harshraj Ghai, who owns 180 fast-food restaurants throughout the Golden State, including Burger King, Taco Bell and Popeyes, told Business Insider last week: “We can’t move fast enough on this [rollout].”

“We have kiosks in probably about 25% of our restaurants today,” he said. “However, the other 75% are going to have kiosks in the next probably 30 to 60 days.”

“We are installing kiosks in every single restaurant,” Ghai said.


Ghai, who raised menu prices between 8% and 10% in the last year, said he plans to cut down on worker hours, eliminate overtime, pause plans to expand his restaurant empire and add more digital kiosks.

In December, California Pizza Hut franchisees laid off 1,200 delivery drivers.

And the Golden State is not alone, with the state of Washington seeing “the second highest price hikes for fast food menu items, which rose 6.1% during the same period.” This is thanks in part to a Seattle ordinance that went into effect at the first of the year that raised the minimum wage for gig workers, which ended up backfiring when people started deleting food/grocery delivery apps like DoorDash in protest of the insane add-on fees and price increases.

Unfortunately, the backlash to these wage increases will not dissuade one “Raise the Wage!” advocate from their position. Instead, they will just double down and stick their heads in the sand, all while demanding more wage increases to make up for the last one not having the intended effect:

They never learn.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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California Fast Food Prices Soar As Minimum Wage Hike Takes Toll on Businesses, Workers, and Customers


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