Move over Chick-fil-A, fast food is getting  political again.

Papa John’s came under fire this week when  CEO John Schnatter floated a plan to cut worker hours to reduce spiking employee  health care costs under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as  Obamacare.

Now, Applebee’s is being boycotted after a  major New York area Applebee’s franchise owner Zane Tankel threatened a hiring  freeze and possible layoffs as a result of the president’s healthcare  plan.

Twitter immediately erupted with calls for a  boycott.

‘So far I’ve seen Papa John’s and Applebees  threatening to fire people since their choice didn’t win the election.  Disgusting on either side,’ read one tweet.

‘BOYCOTT APPLEBEES NOW,’ read another.

‘Add @Applebees to the list of unpatriotic  businesses who are firing people because Barack Obama won,’ tweeted  another.

The Twitter uproar is in response to a Fox  News interview Thursday with Zane  Tankel, chairman and CEO of Apple-Metro, which owns 40 New York-area Applebee’s  restaurants.

“We’ve calculated it will [cost] some  millions of dollars across our system. So what does that say — that says we  won’t build more restaurants. We won’t hire more people,” Tankel  said.

Apple-Metro employs from 80 to 300 people at  each of its Applebee’s. Obamacare requires businesses with more than 50 workers  must offer an approved insurance plan or pay a penalty of $2,000 for each  full-time worker over 30 workers.

‘If you have 40 or 50 employees at a  restaurant, and the penalty is $2,000, and you’re going to pay $80,000 or  $100,000 penalty, there goes the profit in your restaurant.’

Tankel also hinted that lay-off and reducing  employee hours were another possibility

‘I want to simply say we are looking at it,  we are evaluating,’ he said. ‘If it’s possible to do without cutting people back,  I am delighted to do it, but that also rolls back expansion, it rolls back  hiring more people, and in a best-case scenario, we only shrink the labor force  minimally. Best case.’

Earlier this week Papa John’s CEO John  Schnatter told shareholders in a  conference call this week that  Obamacare would cost the company 11 to 14 cents  per pizza, a cost that would be  passed on to customers.

The response on Twitter was immediate, and  largely unfavorable.

‘First Chick-fil-A, now Papa John’s. What  does it say about the US when fast food has become the tool for political  catalyst?’ tweeted one person.

‘Thanks 4 letting us know how CHEAP you are.  10 cents?! REALLY! Officially on my DO NOT BUY LIST even if you don’t up the  price.’

Schnatter defended his plan.

‘That’s what you do, is you pass on  the  costs,’ Schnatter told Naples News. ‘Unfortunately, I don’t think people  know  what they’re going to pay for [Obamacare].’

Schnatter isn’t alone among chain restaurants  looking to balance the costs of health care reform.

As the program mandates that only  employees  working more than 30 hours a week are covered under their  employers health  insurance plan, chains like Olive Garden and Red  Lobster are already  considering reduced worker hours.


  1. Isn’t the free market great? One can choose to patronize Applebee’s, Papa John’s, Chick-Filet or not based on their owner’s policies and reputation. Also, whether or not to work there. I am sure that someone will set up a site to highlight those companies which are making political statements to show their greed and selfishness.

    We are all in this together. The country decided to pass Obamacare. All businesses are affected and those companies that best integrate the increased costs (as well as the benefits) into their operations will succeed, those that don’t will not. It is called competition.

    What is next? I suppose Papa John’s in New York will add an additonal amount to their pizzas because of storm Sandy. Or how about an addtional amount for the rising cost of electricity?

    A single payer system would have resolved many of these issues.

    Employers need to integrate any additional personnel costs into their business budget, as they do any costs. Should we expect Papa John’s in Denver to lower costs because of increased sales due to marijuana legalization? That would be a story!


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