Café owner breaks down in tears over minimum wage increase: Five Dock appetite

Café owner breaks down in tears fearing his business won’t survive minimum wage increase: ‘It would be a lot easier for us to close’

A Sydney café owner has broken down in tears during an emotional TV interview fearing his business ‘cannot survive’ amid rising cost pressures and an increase to the minimum wage. 

The Fair Work Commission on Wednesday awarded Australia’s 2.7 million minimum wage and low-paid workers a 5.2 per cent wage rise to keep up with spiralling inflation – the most generous bump in 16 years. 

But while the much-needed pay rise is a windfall for workers, business owners are feeling the pinch and say they ‘can’t afford it’.

Phillip Salhab who runs the Appetite eatery in Five Dock tried to put on a brave face when speaking about the possibility of going bust on Sky News.

He told reporter Peter Stefanovic he’ll ‘save his tears for the pillow’ before eventually becoming overwhelmed and admitting: ‘It would be a lot easier to close’.

‘While we accept the increase in the minimum wage for our team to keep up with the cost of living pressures, we as a business cannot afford it,’ he said.

‘I appreciate they are going to give us until October 1 but what guarantee is there that everything will be back to normal.’ 

Mr Salhab said he is already paying well above minimum wage to his staff as the hospitality industry faces a massive shortfall of workers.

‘Workers are putting us up against each other from interview to interview telling us what they’ve been offered and getting us to hopefully match or beat it and we just cannot do it,’ he said. 

‘We are looking for a kitchen hand at the moment and other venues are offering… $42 an hour, it would be a lot easier for us to close.’

He added that the rising costs for fresh food including bread and coffee is also making the business unviable.

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