4 of America's Favorite Restaurants That No Longer Deserve Your Business

Franchise owners are complaining mightily about the costs of Obamacare. Some, like owners of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Papa John’s are threatening to stop hiring workers or raise prices because of the law. But when you own scores of restaurants and make tens of millions, are you really the best person to be complaining about having to give your employees health insurance? I think not. 

Here’s a list of businesses to boycott if you think they’re full of it too:

1) Red Lobster and Olive Garden


Darden Restaurants, which owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, began experimenting with cutting worker’s hours before the Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”) was passed. It was trying to get employees below 30 hours a week so the chains would be exempt from having to provide them health care or pay penalties under the new law. This is from a company that spent over $1.5 million in 2012 in political contributions, according to OpenSecrets, with taxes and health issues being its top two issues. They're trying to wiggle their way out of this law.

2) Papa John's


Papa John’s is another. John Schattner, CEO of Papa John’s, said the company might be forced to charge an additional 11 to 14 cents for each pizza to make up for the costs of Obamacare. According to its 2011 annual report, net income was around $56 million for the year and it had 598 company-owned restaurants in North America along with thousands of franchises. They should stop pretending that if a $8.99 pizza becomes $9.13 that that's a big deal, enough to rob thousands of workers of health insurance. We shouldn't support their scare tactics.

3) Applebee's


A range of Applebee’s franchises also deserve some scorn.

Zane Tankel, an owner of 40 New York-area Applebee’s franchises and CEO and Chairman of Apple-Metro, says, “We’ve calculated [the Affordable Health Care Act] will cost some millions of dollars to our system. So what does that say – that says we won’t build more restaurants. We won’t hire more people.”

“Applebee's had an insurance plan, but the cost was more than I was earning," says Krista Trovato, who worked at locations in Pennsylvania and Florida. She told the HuffPo, "I think paying insurance for employees is the cost of doing business, and if they can't afford it, they need to get out of business and accept their failure."

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These are examples of businesses that just don’t seem to believe in giving their employees health insurance. They’re doing whatever they can to skirt the spirit of the law. In response, we should skirt them. 

By contrast, businesses like Ian's Pizza, which has been offering its employees health care ever since it opened, is cheering the fact that Papa John's will finally be forced to compete on the same playing field as it does. We should do the same.

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Michael McCutcheon

Michael was formerly special projects editor at Mic. Prior to that, he worked at the Open Society Foundations on electoral reform. A native Seattleite, he's still mad about the SuperSonics.

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