How is it you can be one of the most successful chefs in the country, with restaurants humming in many locations, cookbooks selling and TV shows on the air, and fail?
The answer, according to Emeril Lagasse: Obama.
This is what he told Scott Meslow of “The Week.” “I have nowhere to go really – other than broke. It’s becoming a very challenging industry to become a very successful average restaurateur. “I can’t charge $300 a person in my restaurant or I would not be in business. Am I using any different ingredients? Not really. Am I using any caliber of service staff? I don’t think so. I think our service is as good or better than most places.
“And then you add all the Obama nonsense to what it’s become in the last several years. I don’t have anything against Mr. Obama. I’m just saying the way that, you know… the government should stay out of things. Pretty soon, they’re going to wipe a lot of the middle restaurateurs and restaurant cooks. If it continues, then watch: you’re going to have high-end, and you’re going to have fast food, and you’re going to have chain restaurants.
“The one thing that I can say is that I’m pretty connected to America — because I’m a good listener, and I think that’s what makes a great restaurateur, is that you’re a good listener,” he said. “I don’t have the solution. If I did, I could run for president. But I don’t have the solution. All I can tell you is that the balance of the economic cycle is out of whack.”
Lagasse didn’t get into specifics about the Obama economy, but it is obvious that prices have skyrocketed. The inflation index, which fails to address food and energy, says no, but take a look around Kroger. Hamburger is the highest it’s ever been and a loaf of bread approaches $4. Bacon has gone to prices that used to be reserved for more expensive cuts of meat.
Then there is the problem of the high cost of employees. Minimum wage advocates are pressing for $15 an hour. If you’re peeling potatoes, that adds to the restaurant tab. There are all the benefits to add, too. Health insurance will take a bite out of the employer and probably now the employee, too.
If someone as talented and hardworking as Emeril Lagasse is having trouble, what does that say about the small business entrepreneur? The recipe for success has changed.
It didn’t used to be that way in say, the bad old days of Reagan and Bush. What’s changed is Obama