Seattle Restaurant Alliance issues statement on beverage tax

Contact: Stephanie McManus,
Communications Advocacy Manager,
360-956-7279 ext. 160

Seattle Restaurant Alliance issues statement on beverage tax
Group sought to work with council to identify solutions; disappointed that small business protections not included in final bill

Over the past several months, the Seattle Restaurant Alliance sought to collaborate with the Seattle City Council to address the impact of the proposed beverage tax on Seattle’s small, locally owned restaurants. However, the council is choosing to move forward with an ordinance that fails to address the harm that this tax will cause to small businesses throughout the city.

“Small businesses face a lot of challenges, and our city council should be supporting them, not making it harder for them to serve our community. This proposal will also hit the communities it purports to support – minority and low-income communities – the hardest,” said Taylor Hoang, owner of Pho Cyclo Café, Seattle Restaurant Alliance member and Executive Director of the Ethnic Business Coalition.

The ordinance was rushed out of committee on Wednesday, without providing the public an opportunity to review and provide feedback on the substitute ordinance and amendments that the committee considered. The council has also suspended council rules to expedite consideration of the ordinance to a vote on Monday. Because of the unanswered questions about the wide-ranging impact of this proposal, a more thoughtful process is needed.

“The Seattle Restaurant Alliance seeks to be solutions-oriented. Instead of just saying “no” to the beverage tax, we tried to work with the city council to address the negative impact it would have. We are disappointed that the proposal is moving forward without providing protections for the small businesses it will hurt,” said Steven Hooper Jr., Co-founder & CEO of Kigo Asian Kitchen and Seattle Restaurant Alliance board member.

Business and labor groups have voiced their opposition to this tax, because of the harm it will cause to small businesses, workers and the local economy. Restaurants operate at very small profit margins – about 4 percent annually. Under this ordinance, the tax on syrups will cost more than the product itself in many cases. The Seattle Restaurant Alliance aimed to find a solution with the council to protect small businesses from the impacts of this tax.

“We are disappointed by Councilmembers Burgess, Gonzalez, Johnson, O’Brien and Bagshaw for voting in favor of the ordinance. We ask that the Council reexamine this proposal and consider a thoughtful solution that does not hurt the most vulnerable in our community,” said Hooper.


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