“It's the Final Nail to the Coffin”: Chinatown Businesses Struggle Over Oakland's New Minimum Wage

Some businesses in Oakland's Chinatown neighborhood are feeling the effects from the city's new voter-approved minimum wage.

The new $12.25, up from $9, went into effect on March 2 and was approved by 82 percent of voters.

"With this minimum wage kicking in, it's the final nail to the coffin," said Carl Chan, a board member for the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

The new minimum wage forced owner of the Legendary Palace restaurant to close its doors on Feb. 26. Officials said four restaurants and six grocery stores have closed since January.

Many business owners are blaming the 36 percent wage hike, while some said the businesses were already in financial distress.

"Business owners are angry," said KC Lam, a business owner. "They can't cope too much."

Lam said he will keep the New Gold Medal restaurant open by being creative -- possibly opening an hour later and closing an hour earlier.

Oakland City Councilmember Abel Guillen said it is too early to panic over the new minimum wage.

"It was just implemented two weeks ago," Guillen said. "In the long run it will benefit the entire community."

Worker Danielle Schlamp has not received a check with her new raise on it, but is looking forward to more money in her pocket.

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