Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
DEARBORN HEIGHTS/CANTON - Harry Moorhouse and Brian Parker are making national headlines for offering a $ 15/hour minimum wage to workers at their two all-natural fast focxl restaurants.
The businessmen launched the first M(x> Cluck Moo lcx;ation in Dearborn Heights in April of this year and another in Canton shortly after.
"I am a single mom of four kids so it is a lot easier to raise and support my children. My children are involved in activities, so it is providing them with things that 1 never got to do as a child," said Jennifer Aguilar, who works at the Moo Cluck Moo in Dearborn Heights.
Parker and Moorhouse say, for them, offering the high hourly wages only means they will profit less. "It is the right thing to do, people work hard. We are not going to make as much, but we are still profitable," Moorhouse said.
The two are offering high wages at a time when the movement to get major American fast food corporations to increase hourly pay is gaining momentum across the country.
Moo Cluck Moo has been featured in the Daily Beast, Huffington Post, NBC's the Ed Show, Al Jazeera and several other major news outlets locally and nationally.
The small business owners are being praised for making the bold move as large fast food chains such as McDonald's and Burger King have ignored protests nationwide to increase wages.
Parker says paying his employees more will encourage them to work harder and provide better customer service. The two say they aren't simply trying to extract as much money as possible from the business.
Moo Cluck Moo associates are doing the same work as employees at other fast food restaurants who are subject to a $7.40/hour minimum wage.
"People work to make a living, right? They don't work for a hobby," said Moorhouse.
Six to eight other Moo Cluck Moo locations are expected to open next year in Waterford and Shelby Township, among other areas in metro Detroit.
The Dearborn Heights location has five full-time employees, and there are six fulltime workers at the Canton restaurant. Moo Cluck Moo doesn't offer health insurance, but is currently looking into different insurance plans that are suitable for its employees.
Many fast food workers are forced to apply for government assistance and face immense financial problems because they don't make enough to make ends meet.
The average shift requires four employees, and the restaurant is open 10 hours a day, seven days a week. That means $60 an hour is spent on labor, accounting for $600 each day and $18,000 a month.
"The pay really helps and is very beneficial. I'm only 21... and it is allowing me to take care of my mom and brother," said Krista Carmen, an associate at Moo Cluck Moo.
Moorhouse and Parker say their business model of providing affordable natural fast food coupled with higher wages for employees is the right thing to do.
They decided to open the Dearborn Heights location because they felt the city was in need of more reasonably priced, first-rate food. "We offer high quality food that's affordable," said Moorhouse.
Fresh halal chicken and beef is purchased daily from Saad Meats for both Moo Cluck Moo locations. The restaurant uses all natural cheeses and meats that are free of hormones and antibiotics. It also uses all natural dairy, and its chicken breast is fresh, never frozen. Its menu includes a variety of burgers, milkshakes and fries.
Ahmed El Masry, an Arab American and the manager of Moo Cluck Moo in Canton says the idea of all natural food is what drew him to the business. 'The concept is actually what attracted me. It is all natural food, and they are buying all their products from Michigan. We try and support the state," El Masry said.
For more on Moo Cluck Moo visit www.moocluckmoo.com. To contact the Dearborn Heights location, call 313562.9999. The Canton location can be reached at 734.844.0000. fll
* By Natasha Dado
The Arab American News