DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Weeks before lawmakers even consider raising the federal minimum wage, some south Florida restaurants are doing it on their own. At Caffe Luna Rosa in Delray Beach, managers implemented the changes this week.
"Business is booming," said Ernest DeBlasi, Executive Chef at Caffe Luna Rosa. Now his entry-level staffers are getting paid more than ever before to keep up the good work. "Does it come back around? Absolutely," said DeBlasi.
The Italian beachfront eatery recently made a big change, raising its entry-level employee wage to $10.10 an hour.
"Definitely a noticeable difference," said DeBlasi. "Some that are up around ten will see a fifty cent raise but it's appreciated."
Owners say the move is not political. But the wage increase does come on the heels of a high-profile speech by President Barack Obama who called on businesses to increase their worker's wages - even if increasing the federal minimum wage does not happen.
Critics of a higher federal minimum wage say it would discourage employers from making hires and even do away with some entry level jobs.
Local customers finding out about the bold move see it as way to strengthen the restaurant's workforce.
"I think that's how you built retention and loyalty," said Scott Werner of Deerfield Beach, who was dining at Caffe Luna Rosa with his family."It's important that people take care of their employees."
Currently, Florida's minimum wage is $7.93 an hour. For tipped employees, minimum wage is $4.91.
At Caffe Luna Rosa, managers say paying $10.10 per hour is just good for their business.
"Now they'll have a little bit more in their pockets," said DeBlasi. "They can spree that around and give it to their family."
In the next few weeks, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on potentially raising the federal minimum wage, which has not been raised since 2009.