CHICAGO — A Panera Bread in Beverly will soon be closing its doors for good, and Ald. Matthew O'Shea (19th) said the minimum age hike Tuesday played a role.
"Is minimum wage a contributing factor? Yes. Is it the sole reason? Absolutely not," the alderman told DNAinfo Chicago Wednesday.
O'Shea said officials at Panera Bread, 2314 W. 95th St., talked to him for weeks about possibly leaving, and when the City Council's vote on the minimum wage was announced Tuesday, Panera representatives told him they would not be renewing their lease.
The City Council voted 44-5 to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour over the next five years. O'Shea, who supported raising the minimum wage at a federal or state level, was one of five votes against the council measure to raise the minimum wage in the city.
"Panera is 100 feet from the suburbs," O'Shea said adding that the close proximity suburban Evergreen Park might lure businesses to literally move across the street.
O'Shea said Panera wasn't the only business considering leaving. Prior to Tuesday's vote, several businesses along 95th Street, Western Avenue and all over the area told him if the minimum wage was raised they'd have "difficult decisions to make," he said.
"After yesterday's news we're going to see other businesses making transitions, whether that means closing their doors or moving across the street to the suburbs," he said Wednesday.
"The simple fact is it's cheaper to operate a business in the suburbs than in the city," he said.
Before the wage hike was approved, Lynn Sapp, owner of Beverly's Original Rainbow Cone at 9233 S. Western Ave., made an emotional appeal against raising the city's minimum wage, and O'Shea said he expected Sapp to cut the number of student workers she hired each summer.
Panera Bread confirmed the location would be closing in about two weeks in a news release.
"For years, the Panera Bakery-Cafe on 95th Street has been privileged to serve and feel the support of the community. We continually invest in efforts to improve and renovate bakery-cafes to ensure that our guests have the dining experience they have come to appreciate from the brand. Unfortunately, in some locations, it is difficult to achieve the standards we believe will meet guest expectations," read the release.
"With the expiration of our lease, we have decided to close our Beverly location on December 16th. We will provide opportunities for all associates and managers who wish to continue with our company at other Chicagoland locations," read the release.
Panera officials did not respond to requests for additional comment Wednesday.
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