Panera franchisee says employees will receive $20 per hour

The announcement came late on Super Tuesday just hours before the first election results were set to be announced in California.

After significant backlash over a report that California Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed for an exemption in the state’s new fast food minimum wage law for Panera Bread, Panera franchisee and Newsom donor Greg Flynn announced that all employees will receive at least $20 per hour when the law takes effect on April 1. 

Flynn released a statement on Tuesday afternoon, just hours before polls closed in the California primary election. 


The backstory: Last week Bloomberg reported that Newsom pushed for an exemption to benefit Panera Bread in Assembly Bill 1228. 

  • AB 1228, which was signed by Newsom last year, allows chain restaurants that operate as a bakery and bake and sell bread as a standalone item to not have to comply with the $20 minimum wage. 
  • Flynn – who owns over two dozen Panera Bread restaurants in California – attended Redwood High School in Marin County with Newsom for one year, and has donated to his campaign. 
  • Bloomberg reported that Flynn had lobbied Newsom to push for fast-casual chains to not be classified as fast food, and that Newsom supported the standalone bread selling provision in the end. 
  • A Newsom spokesperson called the report “absurd” and said the governor’s team determined that Panera Bread is not exempt from the minimum wage law. 

What they’re saying: Flynn’s statement reads as follows: “At Flynn Group, we are in the people business and believe our people are our most valuable assets. Our goal is to attract and retain the best team members to deliver the restaurant experience our guests know and love.

  • “Regardless of whether the bakery exemption in AB1228 applies to our bakery-cafes, California locations owned and operated by Flynn Group will increase all hourly pre-tip wages to $20 per hour or higher effective April 1.”
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