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Mexican restaurant

Hard Times for California’s restaurant owners, workers and economy

Hard Times for California’s restaurant owners, workers and economy

Hard Times for California’s restaurant owners, workers and economy

Mexican restaurant
Mexican restaurant

By Rogelio Fonseca

For the past 43 years, my wife Julia and I have operated a Mexican restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Through hard work and dedication we have been successful in earning a positive reputation among our customers and in our community. You might even say we’ve been able to achieve a piece of the American Dream.

Unfortunately, mounting government regulation is threatening to turn that dream into a nightmare.  . As local businesses struggle to keep the doors open, a state legislator is pushing Senate Bill 568, a proposal that would institute a statewide ban on polystyrene food containers.

This is a crazy idea. It will hurt restaurants like mine as well as other businesses and consumers.

The reason we use foam food containers in the first place is simple:  they work and they are inexpensive.  They keep the food hot and keep it from dripping all over the cars and clothes of our customers.  The plastic coated paper containers I would be forced to use are 300-percent more expensive. I simply cannot afford to incur such a cost increase. These extra expenses, coupled with other challenges facing California businesses, will make it harder to stay in business and keep  all of our hardworking employees on our payroll.

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The challenges and obstacles to running a successful restaurant keep increasing. Energy, utilities, food, rent and other expenses continue to escalate. I also must pay more taxes, more payroll expenses and benefits.  And it seems like government is always trying to micromanage the restaurant business " whether banning kids toys or creating labeling requirements. It all means more time on paperwork and less time in the kitchen. No wonder our economy is going down the tubes.

The other restaurant owners I know share my concerns. In businesses like mine, with slim margins, these added costs are a threat to our success. While the wealthy elite may find this unbelievable, I cannot pass along new costs to my customers--they are also struggling in these tough times.

Also, banning foam food containers will kill good manufacturing jobs right here in California " many of these workers have been employed in the industry for decades and have been able to provide for their families, pay taxes and put kids through college.

Politicians who minimize these issues really are out of touch. They seem to believe they are immune from the anxiety and economic uncertainty. They do not live in the real world. They should try spending a week working with me in my restaurant. Maybe then they would see that SB 568 makes no sense and must be defeated. That it is yet another slap in the face for hardworking Californians.

Rogelio and Julia Fonseca are the owners of La Abeja restaurant on North Figueroa Street in Los Angeles.

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