Denny’s franchise owner Metz is learning that actions have consequences

So there, take that, said John Metz, who’s a Denny’s franchise owner and owner of RREMC Restaurants (which runs 35 Denny’s and several Dairy Queen locations), as well as the franchisor of Hurricane Grill & Wings. If you make me provide healthcare to my employees under Obamacare, I’ll add a 5 percent surcharge to customers’ bills to punish you. Or, you can just stiff the server 5% instead. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and cut my workers’ hours anyway, unnecessarily, just for kicks. Look what you made me do.

As Metz told the Huffington Post, “If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent or, if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare. Although it may sound terrible that I’m doing this, it’s the only alternative. I’ve got to pass the cost on to the consumer.”  Yes, in fact, it does sound terrible. It is terrible. And did I mention unnecessary, spiteful, and boycott-worthy? What restaurant puts a note on its menu that you’re having to pay more for your pancakes because of the rising costs of, say, flour? No, Metz wanted to make a public statement against Obamacare, but it didn’t turn out so well for him.  Enraged customers called and boycotted his and, unfortunately, other Denny’s restaurants, and the CEO of Denny’s, John Miller, came out with a firm statement denouncing Metz’ position. The ironic part is that RREMC already provides health insurance to its employees, 75% employer paid; this isn’t about Obamacare, it’s about Obama.

But despite a stance that makes no sense, and a position that has been flogged in the marketplace of public opinion, Metz isn’t done adopting the victim posture in the wake of his suicidal anti-employee position.  Despite Metz’ lame apology, his co-owner now says that – since they’ve been boycotted and business has declined as a result of Metz’ ridiculous anti-Obamacare stance – he may now have to lay off people. The classic case of murdering your parents and asking the court for leniency because you’re an orphan.

Metz’ brother and Denny’s co-owner, Abdo Mouannes, ”said he would never have laid off employees or cut hours due to Obamacare. But now he may have to, he said, if Denny’s boycotts take hold. ‘I’m not in favor of cutting employees, but if there is no demand, we will be pushed to do this . . . Unfortunately, if there are boycotts, it’s going to come down to hurting our operations, hurting our employees. There will be people hurt across the board.’”

Well then, schmuck, you shouldn’t have allowed your brother to launch his tirade against Obamacare, saying that he would cut hours and encouraging customers to under-tip your servers.  You shouldn’t have been complicit when your brother wanted to add the 5% “Obamacare surcharge.”  You should have stopped the sibling nitwit in his tracks before he was set on course to destroy your business.

Despite the fact that the specific provision of Obamacare doesn’t take effect until 2014, Metz decided to proactively make a public, political statement against Obamacare by holding meetings at all of his restaurants starting next month, and unequivocally said that he would notify employees that “because of Obamacare, we are going to be cutting front-of-the-house employees to under 30 hours, effective immediately.” (Emphasis added).

As noted by Paul Fronstin, director of the health research program at the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, “When you’re blaming it on one thing and it’s due to something else, you’re basically making a political statement . . . And if you do something for political reasons, it can backfire, because someone else has the opportunity to come in and take the business away.”  Yes. They’re called customers.

This Metz guy has almost 100 restaurants around the country. And despite his brother’s dire predictions, the economic truth is that if people don’t patronize Metz’ restaurants, other restaurants will absorb the overflow, leading to higher employment needs elsewhere. Boycotts are the one way in which consumers can flex their muscles against corrupt, greedy, inhumane and un-American corporations – and, as in the cases of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Susan Koman, and due to the use of social media, boycotts can be highly effective. So, if you’re in a boycott-happy mood, here’s a list of Metz-owned RREMC Denny’s restaurants here. Partner companies to RREMC are listed here. Metz’ Hurricane Grill & Wings stores, of which he’s the franchisor, are listed here.

Do with them what you may.