Thursday, March 14, 2013

Owner of Raleigh-Durham Five Guys Burger & Fries attacks Obama's health care law

Okay burger lovers. It’s time to prepare for an old fashioned boycott.  Pull out the signs and put the debit card under lock and key. 

Mike Ruffer, the owner of eight Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurants in Raleigh-Durham, was quoted in the Washington Examiner about his thoughts regarding President Obama’s new health care law.  He says the law will force him to put plans for new stores on hold and may result in higher prices for burgers.

Ruffer was speaking to attendees of a seminar on the new health care law that was hosted by the Heritage Foundation. He says profits from one of his eight outlets would have to be dedicated to health care and that “any added costs are going to have to be passed on.”

The corporate office of Five Guys Burger and Fries quickly distanced itself from Ruffer.  The chain owes President Obama for exposing the nation to the chain after he visited the Washington, DC restaurant in 2009. The chain rode the wagon to expand from coast-to-coast. Five Guys has grown to over 900 restaurants across the country.

"Mike Ruffer is a franchisee of Five Guys and independent business owner," Molly Catalano, director of communications, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "He does not represent Five Guys on this or any other subject matter."

Sales for Five Guys were just under $1 billion in 2011.  They added 182 locations and made the top 25 list in QSR Magazine.  The chains sales increased 32.8% from 2010, while its $1.156 million in sales per restaurant was just below Burger King’s $1.245, and was more than Pizza Hut, KFC, Sonic and Starbucks.

Ruffer should be careful about crying the blues in a community overly sensitive about getting jerked by corporate big shots.  His burger joints are in my back yard, and folks down here read newspapers and keep track of the U.S. Stock Exchange.  It’s hard, no it’s down right mind boggling, that people like Ruffer have the guts to talk about raising prices in a time of profit.  Those not paying attention would think he’s facing bankruptcy. Please read between the BS.

On Wednesday, U.S. stocks rose for the ninth straight session to another record. Ruffer, and his sidekick Papa John, want us to believe the nation is collapsing like the Roman Empire due to Obama care.  As Americans continue to struggle with finding ways to pay their bills, feed their families while keeping faith in the American dream, Ruffer and Papa want us to believe they are struggling too much to take some of that profit and pass it on to their employees.

I’m not buying it.  Neither should you.

The facts speak louder than Ruffer’s BS.  The Dow Jones industrial average’s nine-day winning streak is the longest run since November 1996.  The S&P 500 is within striking distance of its all-time closing high of 1,565.15 and about 1 percent away from all-time intraday high of 1,576.09 set in 2007.

"I think we will soon see the S&P at all-time high levels. I don't think the market has topped yet, and there is still strength to move the market higher," says Ari Wald of C&Co/PrinceRidge in New York.

Translation, businesses are making money.  The problem is with how profits are being spent, or, more to the point, with how profits are not being spent.  Companies like Papa John Pizza, Five Guys Burger and Fries and Whole Foods complain about the liberal policies of the Obama administration.  They continue to tell us to wait for things to trickle down.  Americans keep waiting for the trickle but the only thing up is corporate profit, and the only thing down is the people in need of health care, more income and the possibility of better days.

So, Ruffer and the other greedy son of a guns need to be careful with their rhetoric.  They can throw their spreadsheets in the faces of those who buy burgers and fries, but folks in Durham, NC aren’t willing to listen to your complaint about barely making it when those flipping the burgers and washing the dishes can’t afford to take their children to the doctor.

Take your greed somewhere else.  The numbers tell the truth.  You have no reason to complain.

Those who need help do.


  1. Anyone know a way to send him a letter letting him know how we think he's being selfish and irresponsible to his employees? To tell him that we love 5 guys burgers and don't appreciate him being greedy and taking profits over employee benefits.

  2. I would suggest most of you hold your comments until you actually understand the full extent of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). For those who focus on getting "free" or reduced price care, it will only come when all the logistics are worked out and when everyone agrees what it entails and how to pay for it. Plus, the immigrant community will not participate.

    The income tax for Obamacare has already been implemented, however, as those of you who are working already know. Also the government has already raised taxes for the "rich." Mind you those who run their small businesses through their personal income tax will all have their taxes raised, thereby lowering any income they might receive. And also lowering any new jobs they might offer, as well as any benefits. This isn't "greed," but just the ability of those who take a small business risk to make a living.

    For the large companies, especially those beholden to stockholders as a fiduciary duty, they are legally bound to operate their business in a cost effective manner. At least a year BEFORE Obamacare was enacted, numerous companies indicated the end effect might be for them to pay fines to fund Obamacare rather than continue with the health benefits plans they already had. They also noted the higher costs of Obamacare (improves access but not price) would drive some of them out of business and others to cut back benefits.

    Just like your household budgets, this is a zero sum game. Whatever government benefits are being doled out are paid for by somebody else, and that somebody else may have limited resources or the ability to shift their operations overseas when U.S. costs are prohibitive. You just don't decide that you want to drive a Cadillac, have the government vote to give you one, and then have the automaker say, "Sure, why not." The automaker will certainly change the product to stay in business.

    The author and main readers of this blog will only focus on what they "think" Obamacare will bring to them. I understand both the personal benefit and humanitarian instincts. The many flaws contained in the law and the secondary effects on the employment climate are ignored, even though they were all well publicized before the bill was passed. We haven't even begun to see the effects of Obamacare yet, so don't be so harsh with the Five Guy's franchise owner until you've seen the situation through his eyes. It's more than "greedy profits" I assure you.

    1. You're making my point. The owner of the local Five Guys made public comments related to Obamacare before having all the facts. He didn't make them before stockholder (something I'm more willing to forgive) but out of speculation. He clearly asserted what the law would cost him. Not maybe, but with certainity. That is the type of conjecture that fed into my response. Even more troubling is his profit margain. Americans who work hard have the right to challenge employers to pay their share in helping them fulfill the American dream. Why this fight in time of growth? Yes, that is greed, an as much as I appreciate the right of business owners to consider their bottom line, I refuse to be patient when they reap profit at the expense of those who need health care. This is a moral issue.

    2. You still don't get it. The owner of the local Five Guys franchise said that the expenses of Obamacare would force him to put plans on hold for opening a new restaurant and may result in higher prices for hamburgers. He says the added costs of Obamacare would have to be passed on. In other words, he has to stay in business to hire employees at all. He didn't say he was going to take away employee benefits.

      Where is the greed in that? Where is the lack of concern for the poor? What his national company says politically is irrelavant to his personal situation. He is a franchisee.

      And why do you relate the increase in the Dow Jones stock market to a sign that businesses as a whole are doing well? The mere fact that the Treasury is printing new money puts more money into circulation and makes all the money worth less. Therefore, stock prices rise without any real increase in value or productivity. Were you aware that last year 1/3 of the upper 5% in income fell out of that bracket? I know you don't care what they do, but it's reflective of that fact that not all of the economy is whole again. How many business have you seen go out of business?

      When I said that we needed to wait to see all that Obamacare entails, I wasn't talking about the costs. The costs to business, anyway, are already well known and being scrutinized by company accountants. explains another $63/employee fee that businesses DO must pay in order to subsidize the poor. Social "justice" or just taxes upon more taxes?

      You think it is a moral issue when businesses don't pay for the health care of the poor. Should they also pay for the housing for the poor? Automobiles for the poor? Food for the poor? Cell phones for the poor (wait, they do that already)? What becomes the incentive for the poor to become non-poor so we can distribute that money to those who are truly disabled, etc.

      Perhaps you've changed and are now on the social justice, income redistribution bandwagon. I don't have, therefore I take yours as a "moral issue."

      The issue is much more complex than the simple scenario you have laid out.

    3. Points well taken. I consider it greed when a company has above average profits, yet voices concerns related to an unwillingness to provide care for his employees. I have no problem with passing the cost on to the consumer. Businesses do it everyday for a variety of reasons (rising gas cost to transport goods...). What disturbs me with Ruffer is his contribution to the antiObama agenda at a time of claims of his being a Marxist (see today's comments from Pat Boone). that type of rhetoric rules public discourse and hides the truth. I have issue with any business getting in the middle of political fights. You're right. A business owner is justifed in considering the bottom line. My fight is a moral one. It involves the countless Americans who have no medical coverage, and the need for a real solution. Yes, it will cost, but isn't it time for ALLL Americans to come together in an attempt to fix problems with healthcare. It is a social justice issue because of how bad the problem is, and how businesses fight to share their load. I do believe it appropriate for government to push public policy that protects the American worker. Be it the minimum wage law or health care, it comes down to protecting those who fail to earn a liveable wage. It may be painful, but too many Americans need medical coverage and it has to come from somewhere. Any business owner refusing to share in offering a solution does not deserve the money in my pocket. It's America. That's my decision. Ruffer has a right to voice an opinion, and people like me have a right to speak out against a person who places profit ahead of people. The money is there Pay the cost. I only patrionize those who see the bigger picture. Be it Walmart, Papa Johns of Five Guys, it's clear that people matter less than profit. I may be wrong. If I am, I'll change my message. As of today, no word from Five Guys Burger and Fries. Show me the care for the people.

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