Citing requirements of Obamacare, owner Ellis Grossman of the Charleston-based organic restaurant Black Bean Co. has decided to close one of his three locations.
“As you get bigger, certain things change, you have to adapt. But the thing is that in growing a restaurant specifically, you have to get to a point where you are either big or small or you have the money to go big,” Grossman said. “So what I plan and figure to do is to take a step back, avoid the 2016 health care coverage and overtime issues, and then wait for an investor to say ‘OK, we are going to do 30 restaurants. Let’s do it.’ Because that is where it is at.”
Grossman, who used to work at Bojangles and Taco Bell, said he looks to how businesses like these avoid paying health care and overtime benefits and prefers being a small business that supports its employees instead of relying on part-time help.
“That is how everyone is getting around it, by making everyone part-time,” Grossman said. “Looking at everything, it made more sense to cut one of the restaurants off, focus on our current two restaurants and be able to grow from there.”
While Grossman is sympathetic to the government’s concerns over a living wage and responsible overtime payments, he is bothered by the speed of implementation. He also is concerned about the ability of his restaurant to transition between small business and successful chain in a regulatory environment that makes that transition more difficult.
“We are trying to adapt to the new governmental structures and laws. We want to be compliant, we don’t want to try and fly under the radar and get busted two years from now," Grossman said. "I’ve always been honest in business and honest with my employees and really we are just trying to take a step back and get ready for a super expansion. That is where we really want to be.”