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Did the Minimum Wage Kill off Luna Park?

Scott Lucas | October 29, 2014 | Story Restaurants

Beloved (?) Mission restaurant Luna Park has announced it will be closing by the end of this year, citing rising labor costs. The restaurant's owner, AJ Gilbert, told Uptown Almanac that the expected increase in the city's minimum wage was to blame, saying, "The rising costs in San Francisco is a really important factor." He said that he expected San Francisco's proposed wage increase to pass this November, prompting the restaurant to sell its space to PlumpJack, a food and wine group that includes Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

If that's true, it makes Luna Park a poster child for the main argument against raising the minimum wage: Namely, that if businesses go under as a result of more expensive labor, minimum-wage hieks are actually bad for workers (We covered the arguments for and against here.)

But that might be all that's going on at Luna Park. As commenters on Uptown Almanac and Eater SF have pointed out, the Luna Park in Los Angeles—where the minimum wage may rise as high as $15.25 an hour by next year—was sold in March of 2013. One of the SF restaurant's original founders also decamped for Puerto Vallarta.

Several other restaurants announced their closure today as well. Could these closures be caused by expectations of increased costs? Maybe. But restaurants come and go all the time. We'll put this one down as a definite maybe.

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