No, Obamacare Didn't Kill Filomena's Friday Lunch Buffet

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 17 2014 4:14 PM

No, Obamacare Didn't Kill Filomena's Friday Lunch Buffet

"Bill Clinton’s favorite DC restaurant shuts down buffet due to Obamacare," reports Caroline May of the Daily Caller.

Except the story doesn't make any sense. Here's Filomena's account of why it's ending the lunch buffet (emphasis added):

As of January, 1, 2014, Filomena has discontinued its Friday Lunch Buffet. We regret we had to make this decision but unfortunately we face new expenses as a result of the Healthcare reform and the Friday Buffet, though wonderful, was not profitable and required extra staff which we can no longer sustain. We regret any inconvenience and on a good note, we will continue our Saturday Buffet and invite you to try our much improved Sunday Brunch Buffet!
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This sounds like the restaurant ended the Friday buffet because the Friday buffet was not profitable. Unprofitability is an excellent reason for a firm to shut down one of its lines of business. After all, if you wanted to do something charitable, I'm not sure that an expensive lunch buffet would make a lot of sense as a candidate. Given the employer-mandate delay, I don't even understand what increased costs the restaurant could be referring to. But if the buffet wasn't profitable, it wasn't profitable.

What's more, it seems to me that buffet-style service is a way of economizing on labor. The advantage for the restaurant is you don't need to employer as many servers. The disadvantage is that your food costs may rise. So to the extent that new legislation raises labor costs, you'd expect to see more buffets not fewer.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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