Burger shop to pay $15 hourly, says it 'feels human'

Moo Cluck Moo, near Detroit, is raising the stakes, and other independent chains aren't far behind.

By Jason Notte Sep 10, 2013 2:59PM
Photo montage of Moo Cluck Moo restaurant in Dearborn Heights, Mich. (© Moo Cluck Moo via Facebook)When we last checked in with the folks at Detroit-area burger shop Moo Cluck Moo, they were paying a starting wage of $12 an hour and arguing that their lack of corporate overhead made it easier to pay low-level employees more.

On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that co-owners Brian Parker and Harry Moorhouse will reset the chain's minimum wage to $15 starting Oct. 1.

Granted, Moo Cluck Moo has exactly one store and has been in business less than a year, but Parker says the 25% increase is something his company has been considering since its inception.

"We always wanted to be at $15 an hour," said Parker. "It just feels human to do it."

Silly fast-food entrepreneur: Humanity has no place in business. Even though that amounts to $31,000 a year, or just less than the average $25,000 made by the nation's 4.3 million retail salespeople, that hasn't stopped Forbes from deeming a $15-an-hour minimum wage "absurdity."

Businessweek suggests that $10.50 an hour may be the most reasonable place to start the minimum wage discussion.

Despite all the fretting over what a Big Mac at McDonald's (MCD) would cost if worker wages increased, though, Moo Cluck Moo and other fast-food chains, including In-N-Out Burger ($10.50 an hour starting wage), Seattle's Dick's Drive-In ($10 an hour to start and full benefits for those working 24 hours a week or more) and Pacific Northwest chain Burgerville (health care for employees working 25 hours a week or more), are implying that big-chain customers aren't getting much for their money. That's part of the reason the $15-an-hour figure has galvanized fast-food workers and inspired strikes and walkouts nationwide. 

For those who argue that these are stepping-stone jobs not worth the extra pay, the economy apparently hasn't received that message. The U.S. economy has recovered roughly 6 million of the nearly 9 million jobs lost during the recession. However, The National Employment Law Project says nearly 60% of all jobs lost during the downturn paid middle-income wages or better, but roughly 65% of the regained jobs are low-wage.

For those who argue that maybe those low-wage earners should have prepared for better careers, keep in mind that more than 280,000 of them are college graduates. The Center For College Affordability and Productivity reported that nearly half of the college graduates from the class of 2010 are working in jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree. A full 38% have taken gigs that don't even require a high school education. According to The Associated Press, that has dropped the median wage for college graduates significantly since 2000 -- just as those same graduates are getting crushed by record-high tuition and debt.

Moo Cluck Moo's owners seem all too aware that the good-paying jobs aren't there and the glut of low-wage jobs might be undervaluing the people who hold them. The federal minimum wage still holds at $7.25 an hour, but an increasing number of independent fast-food employers are arguing that you only get the quality of employee that you pay for.

More on moneyNOW

Sep 10, 2013 3:22PM
Pretty sad day in AMERICA when a person with a trade and an education gets paid the same as a person flipping hamburgers.
Sep 10, 2013 3:28PM
If these companies want to pay $15.00 per hour, nobody is stopping them.  It should not
be necessary for the government to establish an absurd level of pay..... 
Sep 10, 2013 3:28PM
There's nothing wrong offering $15/hour if management thinks it will better the brand. I think it's a great idea. I would patronize a restaurant for supporting their employees as long as the service is in-line with the product pricing. 
I DO NOT think it should be a Federally mandated 'solution', as it's really not the Feds job to nit-pick who-gets-what in individual industries. 

Sep 10, 2013 3:31PM
Bad thing is I repair complicated vacuums, which not many people around here can do, I've been on my job for over 11 years, and I just now make 11.87 an hour.  No benefits, or insurance by the way.  I suppose my employers aren't feeling very human.
Sep 10, 2013 3:20PM
2 years ago my son told me their were a lot of lawyers waiting tables in san fran,,,,,,so a person has to do what you got to do,,,,,,
Sep 10, 2013 3:35PM
 if my guys make me money, I will and do pay them good. when the end of my life comes  I will be able to say I did the best for my fellow man..  the rich getting richer is easier than  the middle class just  trying to stay middle class...  corporations are making record in profits....
Sep 10, 2013 3:39PM

Fact is some jobs are only worth $8/hr or less.  I started at $3.35/hr and worked my way up, no help from the government or family.   Now I am proud to be in the top 2% of earners. 


Why reward low skills? The problem is that between <$8/hr and $12/hr, there is parity due to subsidies. Do away with the subsidies and people will work to survive, we as a society will be better off.


$15/hr to flip a burger is stupid.

Sep 10, 2013 3:19PM
I am against a $15.00 an hour wage. Not all employees are deserving that wage.
Sep 10, 2013 3:21PM
They will be out of business within 2 years.

Sep 10, 2013 3:37PM
Kudos to business owners for understanding that without good employees they wouldn't have a business.  Granted we're talking about a burger joint, but keeping employees happy keeps morale up, which increases productivity and reduces scrap - hence, more profit for the owners.  It's really such a simple concept.  I just left a job where I had worked for 7-1/2 years with no COLA and no merit based increase because the owners only interest was in lining their pockets.  My new employer pays me 25% more than the job I left, where I had stayed because I was convinced that my hard work would pay off in the long run.  What a fool I was...  My new employer appreciates and rewards his employees and produces super high quality products to show for it.  He's profiting from his own generosity.
Sep 10, 2013 3:41PM
I rarely get a correct order in most fast food restaurants as it is, with no "thank you" to boot, and you want to reward these employees with a nice big raise for doing an entry level job at a sub-par performance level?

Ya right!

What are the current uneducated employees of fast food restaurants going to do for a living once college educated, skilled individuals start competing for their jobs?
Sep 10, 2013 3:22PM
What they don't tell you is that their hamburgers cost an average of $12.00 each. See how long they stay in business. The fast food industry is going to implode if they are eventually forced to pay these kind of wages. The B.S. about the recovery is just that. 8 out of 9 jobs created during the Obama administration has been part-time or low paying positions. They don't count those people that have used up all of their unemployment benefits and have quit looking for work. What this country needs is a leader that knows how to create high paying positions for those college grads. Then those people will spend more money (ie: fast food) which in turn will sell more goods and employers will be able to raise the lower paying incomes.  Plain and simple. Economics 101. Surely those college grads learned that. But that takes real degree not one in sociology or humanities.
Sep 10, 2013 3:24PM

To me...if someone in the fast food industry actually would publish the data about how much wages contribute to their total cost, the public would have a much more realistic idea of the impacts of raising wages.


But instead, all we get is spin doctoring, lobbying and other forms of partial information.


go figure.   For that matter, when I look at any corporate reporting, you don't really see a line item that is compensation for workers.

Sep 10, 2013 3:38PM

Good luck to these touchy feely good vibe morons. Sure, its nice to be nice, but a job paying $15 per hour to a non-skilled worker is insane. I spent the first quarter of my life pursuing higher education, staying in school, working to pay my education (no grants, scholarships) and a $15 per hour burger flipper simply insults me and all the hard work necessary for ME to make $15 per hour. No one with no skills, no experience, and no seniority deserves more than minimum wage.


Sep 10, 2013 4:18PM
Higher priced fast food sounds like a winner to me - maybe fewer trips for high fat food will reduce our growing waist lines and actually make people - healthier!
Sep 10, 2013 3:36PM

If these guys are correct they will put other fast food restaurants out of business because they will have the best staff and service anywhere. According to their business model customers will happily pay for that. By their menu you will pay at least 2X more for a meal. Lets see if the market agrees with these businessman. I wish them well.


This does not mean anyone else has to have the same business plan or agree with their assumptions. This is the mistake that government makes---ivory tower economics always fails. 

Sep 10, 2013 3:52PM
Corporate AMERICA is by and large screwing the (average) employees all the while rewarding and padding the pockets of those of the corporate executives and CEO ilk.
Sep 10, 2013 3:24PM
    15 an hour is a bit much to start at ..hope it doesn't bite back after awhile.
Sep 10, 2013 3:49PM
The base burger is $3, or 300% more than a base burger at any of the majors. 

$2,50 for a Whopper or Big Buford, and $5 for MCM's equivalent. A 200% price increase. 

Simple math is hard.

I hope they enjoy their $15 for the next year, because that's the life expectancy of this restaurant. 
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More