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Friday, February 1, 2013

Local Coffee Chain Starts Charging Customers a 1.5 Percent "Sick Leave Surcharge"

Posted by on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Signs like this went up at all the Cherry Street Coffee locations last week.
  • Signs like this went up at all the Cherry Street Coffee locations last week—click to enlarge.
We received a tip this afternoon from a reader who noticed that Cherry Street Coffee, which has seven locations in and around downtown Seattle, has just put up shiny new signs at all their registers alerting customers to a new "Sick Leave Surcharge" of 1.5 percent on every order.

The sign reads: "Sick Leave Surcharge: To help offset the costs of the City of Seattle's paid sick leave policy we are adding a 1.5% surcharge to all orders. We appreciate your understanding and continued patronage."

If you'll recall, on September 1, 2012, Seattle's new paid sick and safe time law went into effect, mandating that all Seattle employees receive paid sick leave. As Cienna reported at the time, the law was in part aimed at food-service workers, who often don't get sick leave and who, for the love of God, should not be serving you food or brewing your coffee while they are sneezing or barfing (or even just feeling a touch sneezy or barfy).

Says Slog Tipper Whitney: "There were many ways [Cherry Street Coffee owner Ali Ghambari] could have dealt with this. He could have upped prices slightly to compensate, for example." But instead, says Whitney, "he chose to call himself out as a royal dickhead for life, because now we all know he wasn't paying for sick leave before forced to by law."

I called Ghambari to see if he agreed with that assessment. Incidentally, he says on his website that "Cherry Street is all about building love and community." Ghambari confirms that he's the author of the signs, which went up at all the cash registers last week. "Obviously, this is something we never had in our budget," he says. "We never had sick leave before." He says offering sick leave will cost him "$25,000 to $30,000 a year, easy," for his 45-plus employees.

"My employees know, hey, you're gonna get 40 hours time off for sick leave," he says. "Even if you are not sick, you'll get that paid to you anyway." Under the new law, for a business his size, 40 hours of accrued sick time can be rolled over from one year to the next. "If one of my employees is not sick for the whole year," he says, "all of a sudden next year, you've got 80 hours... I don't want my employees calling in sick when they're not sick to get a day off." I asked him how the rollover of sick leave would cause his employees to be dishonest. He did not have an answer. "It's not about dishonesty," he says. "I'm not driving a Mercedes, I'm actively working my business. I feel pretty comfy with [this decision]. If some people don't feel good about it, bring it on, we'll talk about it." But so far, he says, "We haven't gotten any comments about it."

But when I called various Cherry Street Coffee locations, while no one would speak on the record, it sounds like customers have indeed complained about the signs.

"I, for one, will not be supporting this asshole any further," says Slog Tipper Whitney.


Comments (85) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Goddammit Ali, you always stick your head up your own ass just for fun sometimes! Reverse course (again), you know how, you ALWAYS have to.

Great coffee, good food, impulse-control-impaired owner with a super nice staff that put up with his shit until they all of a sudden can't...that's Cherry Street Coffee, always has been
Posted by gloomy gus on February 1, 2013 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
So, basically, they were blowing snot and germs into our coffee and bagels before, but not charging us?

Wow, that sounds like such a premium business that I'll go somewhere else.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 1, 2013 at 5:15 PM · Report this
raku 3
Ugh, the weird Jesus-y signs in the store should have tipped me off. Sad because they have great baristas.
Posted by raku on February 1, 2013 at 5:18 PM · Report this
ingopixel 4
I've known a few of his employees over the years and they are the nicest, most amazing people who get seduced by his warm, loving, open arms, soft spiritual vibe and then end up talking about how batshit he is. It's a damn shame.
Posted by ingopixel on February 1, 2013 at 5:21 PM · Report this
emma's bee 5
Yup. Asshole. Won't ever patronize them on my visits.
Posted by emma's bee on February 1, 2013 at 5:25 PM · Report this
T 6
And of course any business he loses from this will be blamed on the surcharge and not the dickheaded approach to the problem.
Posted by T on February 1, 2013 at 5:25 PM · Report this
Very conflicted: I want the owner of this business to pay a price for being such an asshole - but I don't want to hurt the workers by not patronizing the business...
Posted by SuperSteve on February 1, 2013 at 5:32 PM · Report this
Fuck. I go to the Cherry Street location all the time. Love the coffee, bagels and (surly) people. But if the owner is this much of an asshole, I will take my business elsewhere.
Posted by DOUG. on February 1, 2013 at 5:47 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 9
He could've just raised prices 1.5% and no one would have noticed.

Whatta colossal a$$hole.
Posted by Original Andrew on February 1, 2013 at 5:50 PM · Report this
originalcinner 10
He could have upped prices by 5% without giving any reason and people wouldn't have made a fuss. Another member of the party of stupid.
Posted by originalcinner on February 1, 2013 at 5:51 PM · Report this
I used to work across the street from a Cherry Street Coffee and I got to know the employees who worked there because I liked the coffee and food there. We'd bitch to each other about how crazy our respective bosses were, and I heard plenty about Ali. He puts up a bullshit front about peace and love with his pretentious posters but, like many business owners, treats his employees like shit and takes them for granted (hence, no sick leave). In addition, he would occasionally come into our store and condescend to us. One time he came in to yell at one of our customers for legally parking in front of his store. This move doesn't surprise me at all.
Posted by crasher on February 1, 2013 at 5:53 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 12
Why are you beating this guy up and giving Linda Derschang a pass?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on February 1, 2013 at 5:58 PM · Report this
DeaconBlues 13
"He says offering sick leave will cost him "$25,000 to $30,000 a year, easy," for his 45-plus employees."

No, dick, it doesn't cost you jack, as your passive-aggressive condescending horseshit little signs clearly demonstrate. That's kind of how capitalism works.
Posted by DeaconBlues on February 1, 2013 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 14
Cherry Street is NOT the enemy your Government not providing health care is. Our Gov spends billions a week to keep the Terrorists from bombing us into the dark ages, but can't provide us with sick leave nor health care. That is the job of government, not selling coffee, which IS the Job of Cherry Street. DEMAND your government provide health care and DEMAND Cherry Street provide good coffee. No business should have to provide a service that is not part of their business.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 1, 2013 at 6:05 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 15
Maybe the owner's of Cafe Ladro and the other non-asshole coffee houses will offer their baristas jobs and then we can boycott these assholes?
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 1, 2013 at 6:06 PM · Report this
What's wrong with educating consumers about the effect of policy choices on the price of goods. Shouldn't Cherry Street customers feel good about paying the surcharge since its their choice that created the policy knowing their coffee price was lower when they weren't paying for sick leave. He shouldn't be required to hide the price increase which you apparently want him to. Plus you are assuming that he doesn't support the policy. He just wants to receive benefit for his small business (a healthy income). I think it's a shame you are hurting one of our local small businesses.
Posted by JasonLantz on February 1, 2013 at 6:16 PM · Report this
chaseacross 17
Never buying coffee under the current ownership. Period.
Posted by chaseacross on February 1, 2013 at 6:19 PM · Report this
DOUG. 18
@16: Maybe he should itemize all the costs that go into the price of your latte: rent, utilities, wages, cups, coffee beans, milk, depreciation of capital, dishrags, etc.
Posted by DOUG. on February 1, 2013 at 6:31 PM · Report this
The people at the Benaroya Hall Starbucks should take some sick restore their mental health. I think most of the other customers (as witnesses) would support me in this evaluation!!
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on February 1, 2013 at 6:33 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 20
I don't know what's worse:

1) The need to express his political views with a sign rather than silently raising the price of a $3 drink by a nickel.

2) Explaining to a reporter how all of his employees are such liars that they will use all 40 hours of their sick-leave whether or not they are sick.

What a shame. And they have such good coffee. I wish there were a Cafe Fiore downtown - their coffee is amazing. I guess now I'll get my coffee before I leave my neighborhood.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 1, 2013 at 6:48 PM · Report this
GeneStoner 21
Socialists always run out of other people's money to spend. Cherry Street is just illustrating the Effect to the Lib's Cause...

Bravo Cherry Street Coffee! I'm enroute to your location now.
Posted by GeneStoner on February 1, 2013 at 6:49 PM · Report this
DeaconBlues 22
@21: this isn't socialism, dingus. get a damn clue.
Posted by DeaconBlues on February 1, 2013 at 6:54 PM · Report this
seatackled 23
San Francisco has some sort of health care law for residents and a number of restaurants added a surcharge. City auditors found out that a lot of restaurants--at least 50, maybe 90 (those are the numbers that spring to mind)--were actually pocketing the surcharge. I wouldn't be surprised if this guy tries shit like that.
Posted by seatackled on February 1, 2013 at 7:01 PM · Report this
A few years ago, prices went up at Cherry Street on Lenora. The signs suggested the raises were to provide employees with health insurance. When my friend and I asked the employees about the coverage, they laughed. They did not get health care. Signs were lies. They eventually came down, but the price increase stayed.
Posted by HungryMother on February 1, 2013 at 7:14 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 25
I'll stick with Seattle Coffee Works. Best coffee in the city, anyway.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on February 1, 2013 at 7:22 PM · Report this
I've actually seen coffee shops do that in the past. "Due to increases in rent, our prices have had to increase by 3% this year." Personally, I like to know that my extra cash is going towards something good (like sick leave for food workers), and not just the owner saying "huh, company x raised their prices by y, so if I also raise mine by y I can pocket an extra z%."

I've also seen it when coffee bean prices increase, though not dish rags... Still, it doesn't seem worth getting bent out of shape about. Prices are increasing, he's saying why and what the extra money goes towards. Now customers know why their latte is an extra 5 cents.
Posted by Tawnos on February 1, 2013 at 7:50 PM · Report this
JonnoN 28
Raising prices is understandable. Adding a surcharge is extra math, and therefore annoying.

Not that I believe his numbers anyway.
Posted by JonnoN on February 1, 2013 at 8:03 PM · Report this
Zebes 29
"Ugh, buying soap and other cleaning supplies for my restaurant easily costs me $50,000 a year. Onerous health regulations in Washington are forcing me to pass those costs on to YOU, the consumer, so blame Olympia, not me!"
Posted by Zebes on February 1, 2013 at 8:11 PM · Report this
Well good riddance pal. You're not the only coffee shop in town. We won't be going there. Ever.
Posted by NineOneFour on February 1, 2013 at 8:51 PM · Report this
Had recently discovered this place and spent a bit of money there.

Amazing how easy this made it for me to "undiscover" it again.

What an asshole. Even if the signs and surcharge disappear, I won't return. Once these assholes decloak themselves, there's no going back for me.
Posted by mighty vinyl on February 1, 2013 at 8:58 PM · Report this
Teslick 33
27: I could sympathize with the owner if this measure forced him to raise prices 10% or something significant. But 1.5%? He just wants to make a point. As @18 points out, he probably had numerous costs go up by at least that amount in the last year, but he's not putting up signs about it.

I really don't understand the opposition to sick leave; simple logic tells you that if an employee can get at least a DAY of rest if its something relatively minor, they're going to get better much quicker and be more productive. Besides, if the owner is so concerned about sick leave abuse, can't he fire people for it in this at-will state?
Posted by Teslick on February 1, 2013 at 9:00 PM · Report this
stinkbug 34
Does Ghambari realize that the employee doesn't need to be "sick" to use one of the days? The "safe time" is mentioned one in this post, but that's an important aspect of the law. It covers not only illness but also...

(For the "Sick TIme" part):

- preventative care
- care for a family member’s illness or preventative care (child, grandparent, parent, parent-in-law, spouse and registered domestic partner).

(For the Safe Time part):

- survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- closure of workplace or child’s school or place of care by public official to limit exposure to infectious agent, biological toxin or hazardous material.

(above from… )

Does he consider his employees "liars" if they use the time for some of the above?

Posted by stinkbug on February 1, 2013 at 9:24 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 35
Wait: $16.67/hour is a pretty good wage for a position that comes with tips, which is what it would take for the law to cost him $30K. I actually hope he does, but I'm kinda doubtful.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 1, 2013 at 10:06 PM · Report this
asteria 36
I know having to provide paid sick/safe leave is hard on small businesses that didn't have sick leave before, but he doesn't have to be such an asshole about it.

Even if one of his employees does accrue 80 hours of paid sick leave, they can't just use it to take a paid two-week vacation; if it's more than 3 consecutive days, the employer can require documentation, and they only have to pay 40 hours per calendar year. Workers don't "all of a sudden" get 80 hours paid time off.

Customers always wind up paying the expenses, otherwise the business goes under. But that sign and his statements piss me off. He has the power to create a sick leave policy that would prevent abuse of paid sick leave; he should stop whining and acting helpless and work on that.
Posted by asteria on February 1, 2013 at 10:27 PM · Report this
asteria 37
@35 - Yeah, and that's only if every employee maxed out their 40 hours paid time off per year. I doubt that all 45+ will do that, although maybe they should.
Posted by asteria on February 1, 2013 at 10:34 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 38
It's too bad the choices for good coffee are so limited in Seattle.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 1, 2013 at 10:51 PM · Report this
DOUG. 40
@39: $4,000 a month to live in Everett? No thanks.
Posted by DOUG. on February 1, 2013 at 11:02 PM · Report this
approachingmidnight 41
Loved and recommended this place. He could have quietly raised prices if it was such an impact to a tight bottom line. He instead decided to come off as a tea baggy douche, so I'll be un-recommending his place every chance I get.

And buying about 250 x $3.00 = $750 every year. Times the amount of people who do the same thing. Wonder how that math will work out vs his 30k guess.

People will still buy to coffee out every his nice workers might need start working for less crazy owners though.
Posted by approachingmidnight't+argue+with+me+buster on February 1, 2013 at 11:04 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 42
@40 - No kidding. I bet he could save even more money in Aberdeen.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 1, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Report this
I moved across the street from one last year and thought I'd check out the breakfast offerings. I wanted something (with eggs) that needed a microwave. I was told the microwave weren't working just then. And I thought, how strange, the power is on and both microwaves arene't working. Haven't been back since. Note to bearded barista at 1st and Clay, stupid answers are insulting and people spending their time and money can find better ways to use both.
Posted by Zander on February 1, 2013 at 11:53 PM · Report this
Soupytwist 44
Business owners like this drive me nuts. If you don't want to deal with having employees and the attendant managerial duties and costs that go along with having employees, or you don't want to deal with finance and accounting, or work place safety, or hiring and training, or doing the work yourself - YOU SHOULD NOT BE RUNNING A BUSINESS.
Posted by Soupytwist on February 2, 2013 at 1:29 AM · Report this
ERIN! 45
35: I worked there for two months in 2009. It was minimum wage plus tips. He is full of shit.
Posted by ERIN! on February 2, 2013 at 1:34 AM · Report this
I'm genuinely confused on this one. So... People aren't pissed he's raising his prices, but rather because he told people why? Would you rather he raised the prices and left you to assume it was because he was greedy?

Sure, he was an asshole with his phrasing. He could easily had said it was due to increased cost or something. But people's problem appears to be with his honesty or specificity, and that strikes me as odd.
Posted by NateMan on February 2, 2013 at 5:51 AM · Report this
@46 If he raised his prices why in the world would someone assume it was because he was greedy? I swear 98% of slog has absolutely no idea how a small business works. Anyway I never heard of this place before and I am going to go out of my way to get some coffee there.

Posted by _db_ on February 2, 2013 at 6:57 AM · Report this
Maybe a bad PR move or maybe not... I like the fact I know exactly where my money is going. My buzz cut at Rudy's went up from $10 to $15 a 50% increase!

When they told me it was to cover the costs of their new health insurance for their employees, I was happy to pay it and felt good about the fact that as a member of their community and customer base, I was doing my part too. We're all in this together.

Times are tough and everyone is working harder for less money. We need to take care of our own and think local.
Posted by clayview on February 2, 2013 at 8:19 AM · Report this
I don't see what you're all freaking out about. Pretty much every restaurant I go to in SF has a line-item on the bill that identifies a health insurance surcharge for restaurant staff. I think it's kind of cool, actually.

Where did you think the money for healthcare/sick leave was going to come from, on the backs of the magic unicorns that fly out of his ass?
Posted by Brad in Seattle on February 2, 2013 at 8:44 AM · Report this
I don't go to Cherry Street because the staff are always rude. My standards for service are pretty low. I just want to get my food without dirty looks or waiting for 20 minutes for a sandwich when there's only one other customer there. I don't need or want my ass kissed. I'm polite. I tip 20% and round up. Even though I like their food I stopped going there because the service was unpleasant and shitty. Whenever restaurant staff are
shitty I always wonder if the owner is an asshole. Seems like
that might be the case here.

Why is this guy so fucking put out by giving his employees sick leave? It's just basic decency.
Posted by know-it-all on February 2, 2013 at 8:54 AM · Report this
Big Sven 52
@16, @27, and all the other "what's wrong with posting information" types: it's about publically protesting a liberal law in a liberal city that by his own admission has almost no impact on his bottom line. The law isn't going to change, and it's clear that far more of his customers support it than don't.

That libertarian business owner model may fly in Dallas, but not here.
Posted by Big Sven on February 2, 2013 at 8:56 AM · Report this
Many small business owners supported this law, and were not afraid that it would have an undue burden on them. If you are going to boycott a place for not supporting it, you should be sure to visit the ones that did.

Small business owners need to educate themselves on how the law works, and how it has played out in other cities. No one has to provide 80 hours of paid sick days under this law. The largest companies have to provide a max of 9 paid sick days per year, and the smaller companies a max of 5. That cap doesn't increase if a worker doesn't use their paid time off in the year they accrue it. Ali has a fundamental misunderstanding of the law.

Tipped employees can be rescheduled and not paid for days off.

In other cities, most employees do not use their max days off per year. Especially tipped employees, since many of those make more money from tips than from their hourly wage, so even if they are paid their wage on sick days, they lose a lot of money by taking a day off. So the cost of this law cannot be measured simply by multiplying the wages each employee makes times the max number of house every employee could get if they have accrued the max paid days off. Another reason for this is that the paid sick day hours don't start accruing for the first 2 years a new business is open, nor for the first 6 months a new employee is hired. In coffee shops there is high employee turnover, so many employees will never even qualify for sicks days.

The Council will review the law's impact after 1 year. So we should be able to measure the cost to businesses.

So far, I haven't noticed any major cost nor major benefit at any of my businesses.

Bottom line - employees need days off. The cost to business won't be that much. The real benefit will be to those who aren't paid much when they have a real need not to work. And that's very valuable to that employee, while not a big cost to the employer. Otherwise, on both sides, this seems to be much ado about nothing.

If we make Seattle a great place to work, employers will benefit from being able to hire from a great pool of employees drawn to the city, and those employees will likewise have money to spend at small businesses nearby.
Posted by Meinert on February 2, 2013 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Big Sven 54
clayview@49: really? You're happy to pay 50% more because your vendor gets 1/52nd less productivity from his staff? Really? I have a bridge to sell you that you're really going to love...
Posted by Big Sven on February 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 55
I've never heard of this chain. I buy my coffee from the stand in City Hall, or the Starbucks on the 40th floor of the Columbia Tower, but I will make a point not to go to any of these stores. Whines are a bore. If you can't afford to run a decent business, you shouldn't be in business.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 2, 2013 at 9:05 AM · Report this
Bauhaus I 56
Oversight, please! want to raise prices to cover sick leave expenses? Fine. But a penny of that increase better not be going for anything other than sick leave pay. Don't start using this humane and civilized law as a tool to increase profits (people of Seattle: you know that's going to happen, right?).
Posted by Bauhaus I on February 2, 2013 at 9:21 AM · Report this
--MC 57
I like the baristas at the location I was going to, so I might just slide by and tip them once in a while when I'm a couple bucks to the plus, but won't order anything.
Posted by --MC on February 2, 2013 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Bauhaus 1 - people already have their prices as high as they can have them, based on how it effects demand. Prices aren't set by cost alone. They are determined by demand. If a business can raise prices without losing sales, they will. And should. If costs increase to a point where the prices outstrips the demand, then people stop buying the product, the business changes or closes.

The real bummer of this law is that it allows organized labor to bargain away mandatory sick days, so not everyone is actually covered by it.
Posted by Meinert on February 2, 2013 at 9:29 AM · Report this
chinaski 59
it wasn't that long ago that Ali raised prices more significantly, so I think it's safe to assume he is doing this to be a dick.
As for the employees, I'll take surly over smug any day. (smug is my weekend coffee, I'll be back to cherry st monday).
Posted by chinaski on February 2, 2013 at 9:38 AM · Report this
Isn't a 1.5% "fee" just a couple of pennies on a coffee purchase??

Isn't this fella a complete idiot to stir-up this much trouble over a few cents per ticket??
Posted by mk3872 on February 2, 2013 at 10:07 AM · Report this
@56 Most ignorant comment on this thread, and boy do you have some competition.
Posted by _db_ on February 2, 2013 at 10:36 AM · Report this
One way to absorb the new costs of sick and safe is to spread out the hours of the staff a little more. Schedule more 5 hour shifts as opposed to 8 hour shifts. When someone calls in sick they only have to be paid for the hours scheduled, not an entire 8 hour day. Given that labor is a set percentage of sales it forces small businesses to pay less to employees to offset the new costs. Nothing in life is free.
Posted by _db_ on February 2, 2013 at 10:42 AM · Report this
In a more succinct and similar fashion, the top banks and financial services organizations should post signs stating that the various fee charges are to pay for those humongous and undeserved bonuses accorded their senior executives, plus the trillions they've ripped off the American (and other countries') people with their contrived economic meltdown based upon ultra-leveraging and insurance swindles of the first magnitude.

But, as despicable as this is, previous commenters are correct: it is the responsibility of the gov't, were it representative of the electorate and the citizenry, to establish universal healthcare for all.

The Economic Policy Institute, which Madrid and others frequently cite, is structured to be funded by the major corporations to financially belittle the small businesses.

If Micro$oft, or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, actually cared so much for the little people and American workers, why in the bloody hell did Micro$oft take advantage of the events of 9/11/01, to do an unscheduled, and very quiet, local layoff of around 1,000 people in the Puget Sound region, and offshore those jobs --- something which didn't appear in any publication until about a year and half afterwards (several lines referenced it in the Puget Sound Business Journal)?
Posted by sgt_doom on February 2, 2013 at 10:58 AM · Report this
And BTW, everyone should be either buying their coffee from Bauhaus (on Cap Hill), Seattle's Best Coffee, Lighthouse Coffee, Cafe Vita, etc., --- but but from the best local places, puuuhhlease...
Posted by sgt_doom on February 2, 2013 at 11:00 AM · Report this
@21, spleenqueenstoner,

Socialists always run out of other people's money to spend.

Hilarious bullcrap, sonny --- the banksters and shammeisters ONLY use OPM, other people's money --- for everything and anything! Do the math, douchey!
Posted by sgt_doom on February 2, 2013 at 11:05 AM · Report this
It's amazing how quickly someone can become public enemy #1 in Seattle. Do you really have so little to worry about that a coffee shop owner with some bad PR skills can cause you such outrage? You people need to get a fucking life. As for Ali, I know the guy and he is not an asshole.
Posted by tacomagirl on February 2, 2013 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Free Lunch 69
@45 - Ah, that's what I thought. So at minimum wage, plus the employer's share of SS, Medicare, and unemployment insurance, this is more like $17.9K a year if all hours are used.

However, according to the BLS, hospitality workers use an average of 2 sick days a year even when more are offered. (When they stay at home, they don't get tips.) This brings it down to $7.1K.

So if a 1.5% price hike covered $30K, then what he really needs is just a 0.36% price hike, or about a penny on a $3 drink.

What a burden! No wonder he put up that whiney sign.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 2, 2013 at 11:34 AM · Report this
Westlake, son! 70
Fuck Cherry Street Coffee.

The cost of doing business is the cost of doing business. Do they also itemize the cost of their property tax, etc. on the receipt?

Ali Ghambari is a huge asshole.
Posted by Westlake, son! on February 2, 2013 at 11:40 AM · Report this
watchout5 72
This guy openly advertises that it's a huge deal to pay people not to work when they're sick? It's a huge deal for me to not get sick again this season, I will gladly spend my money at a business that actively doesn't want sick people working. Talk about fucking thick.
Posted by watchout5 on February 2, 2013 at 12:09 PM · Report this
@18- this is an outstanding idea. When a coffee shop I was managing was taken over by new owners I did this for them, as a way to see where the costs/profits/losses were. It would be super easy to put up a sign with a simple breakdown of the percentage of an average item's cost, including all inputs and overhead. It would be an rough average, but helpful for customers and employees. I would also love to see similar signage with things like carbon footprint or supply chain. I think if you run an honest, above board business, being reasonable and responsible, this sort of info could really cement a customer base.
Posted by Chris Jury on February 2, 2013 at 12:40 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 77
@62 - ignorant or not, I get upset when I hear business owners bitch about not being able to afford taking care of their employees. You know the ones - the ones who scream and yell when the idea of raising minimum wage even a quarter is broached (that's $10 a week for a full-time employee). "You'll break me and then we'll all be out of work!" they exclaim. Then, they hop into their $70,000 car and head for their $900,000 house all purchased in part by the labors of their underpaid staff. And if he or she thinks, "Well, I'm the boss. I should live like this," then maybe he/she should be the one who has to come in at 8 o'clock Christmas morning to run things.
Posted by Bauhaus I on February 2, 2013 at 2:30 PM · Report this
To use a Farkism:

Rick Romero school of business reports: providing employees with benefits and paid time off has extra costs. Details at 11!
Posted by Corydon on February 2, 2013 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 79
Ali is just the type of corporate pig that should be scared when the revolution comes. His kind had a hard time in Paris back in 1789
Posted by Last of the Time Lords on February 2, 2013 at 3:14 PM · Report this
seatackled 80
Crooks and Liars picked this up, so the story's going national. Expect the guy to be on Fox News soon.…
Posted by seatackled on February 2, 2013 at 8:15 PM · Report this
i fucking hate coffee. it's messy and it smells like burnt asshair. plus, people get way snotty about it.

tea is simple and relatively clean. it's also less likely to make you shit your pants. and while there's crazy cultural rituals and ceremonies surrounding it, most people can plop a bag of tea in some hot water without spending six bucks and then talking about it like it's some rare fine wine.

anyway, i don't give a shit about this dude and i hope he gets kicked in the coinpurse by an angry barista. and i hope after it happens, coffee beans spill from his pant legs like a freshly ripped open burlap sack of those precious columbian dirt beans.
Posted by deepconcentration on February 2, 2013 at 9:58 PM · Report this
kcrobinson 85
I remember visiting San Francisco however many years ago and discovering that every restaurant added a sick leave tax to their prices. The locals I was with were very proud of this fact because it allowed the patrons to feel good about their money going to support the employees' needs.
Posted by kcrobinson on February 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM · Report this
stinkbug 86
According to this KOMO story today, he has pulled the signs and thinks the SPSST ordinance is "a fantastic policy":…
Posted by stinkbug on February 3, 2013 at 5:37 PM · Report this
Ali Ghambari, the owner, is full of shit. I've worked for him and his son AJ (who owns Seattle Bagel Bakery - the bagels at the cafe) and they were the worst bosses I've worked for in the industry. The arrogance here doesn't surprise me the turnover rate for his employees is ridiculous, it's all about money with Cherry Street.
Posted by megraf on February 3, 2013 at 8:08 PM · Report this
mayor 89
Fuckers should open their books to an independent audit to see if the surcharge is necessary. It's profit (and opportunity) gouging if they don't.
Posted by mayor on February 4, 2013 at 5:04 AM · Report this
This seems logical. He didn't want to be a jerk and just raise prices, he wanted everyone to know the impact that this legislation has on them. Good job. Now maybe people will think about the repercussions of legislative action.
Posted by TEG24601 on February 4, 2013 at 7:29 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 91
thinking about it further Ali MAY have a point. Many times when an employee calls in sick they aren't really sick....THEY ARE OUT GOING TO JOB INTERVIEWS!!!!

Just sayin'.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 4, 2013 at 7:44 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 92
@90: I'm pleased by the legislation. I'm displeased in how he's flaming his employees and the impact on them.

"He didn't want to be a jerk and just raise prices"

He's raising prices in the most prickish way possible. Man are you stupid.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 4, 2013 at 8:09 AM · Report this
See, this is the bitch about trying to support small, independent local businesses--they're not giving their employees benefits beyond the minimum required by law (and sometimes not even that, when they give folks the "opportunity" to work under-the-table).

If you boycott this place and they lose business, the owner isn't going to cut his own salary--he's going to fire somebody. So let this whiny idiocy go, pay the extra couple of cents for your luxury item, and take it as a sign that the law was a good idea--now the employees there are getting sick leave! Good for them, good for their customers! The system works!

Oh, and now that you know the boss is an asshole? Leave a good tip.
Posted by rca on February 4, 2013 at 9:20 AM · Report this
I never really had a reason to patronize Cherry Street Coffee when there are a variety of superior options with better hours all over Seattle, and I sure as hell have a reason to actively avoid them now.
Posted by Gomez on February 4, 2013 at 10:18 AM · Report this
All of this for 3 cents. Really Seattle? Easy for all of you who maybe working for companies who can afford to offer sick leave in the first place.
So many of these ugly comments are very typical Seattle-ite remarks - so totally involved in your own little world you cant see ast your own nose.
Posted by hpsweet on February 4, 2013 at 12:48 PM · Report this
All of this for 3 cents. Really Seattle? Easy for all of you who maybe working for companies who can afford to offer sick leave in the first place.
So many of these ugly comments are very typical Seattle-ite remarks - so totally involved in your own little world you cant see past the end of your own nose.
Posted by hpsweet on February 4, 2013 at 12:52 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 97
@96: "All of this for 3 cents."

It would help if you actually read peoples posts before you responded.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 4, 2013 at 1:49 PM · Report this
curtisp 98
So fucking what if he is charging extra for sick leave and so fucking what if he points it out. Businesses will pass on costs to the customers. Sick leave is a good thing, the city was right in passing the ordinance, but it costs a lot and yes a lot of people do take sick time when they are not sick. EVERYONE knows people who fake an illness or do somthing stupid like stay up too late, drink too much and not feel well enough to go to work the next day. If people did not do that then sick leave would not cost so much. Like it or not he makes a good point.
Posted by curtisp on February 4, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 99
all the misdirected anger in this thread took me from Viva La Revolution back to who gives a shit. They make a great cup of coffee, so I'm going back.
Posted by wilbur@work on February 4, 2013 at 5:58 PM · Report this

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