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Denny's corporate management and many Denny's franchise owners are not happy with John Metz, the owner of 40 Denny's restaurants who said he'd be adding a 5 percent surcharge to meals at his restaurants to pay for employee health insurance requirements under Obamacare. The CEO of Denny's has shut Metz up but good:
Denny's chief executive John Miller privately reached out to Metz to express his "disappointment" with the Florida franchisee's controversial statements about Obamacare, which sparked a wave of backlash for the national restaurant chain over the past few days. Metz released a statement Monday night expressing "regret" over his statements. [...]
Metz, whose RREMC Restaurants owns more than 30 Denny's locations, said in a statement, "We regret that the statements we made may have been interpreted as representative of the Denny’s brand or of other franchisees, which they are not. Our stores do not have a 5 percent surcharge. Despite recent media coverage, RREMC Restaurants is committed to exploring viable and effective ways to deal with the changing economic climate, including the implementation of The Affordable Care Act. We have always been and will continue to be 100 percent dedicated to our employees and customers and will work tirelessly to find solutions that are in their best interests. It is our intention is to fully comply with the law."
Much of that statement is, of course, obviously false. But the fact that Metz has flipped from insisting that he'd make workers and customers alike pay costs it's unlikely he'd even face for health coverage (remember, Metz also said he'd cut workers' hours so they didn't qualify for employer-provided insurance under Obamacare, as well as adding the surcharge for the health care they weren't getting) to disavowing his previous statements so unequivocally is a measure of how bad he was for the Denny's brand.
Other franchise owners are rightly pissed:
After Metz's original comments went viral, Abdo Mouannes said sales and traffic dropped "overnight" at his seven Denny's locations in Florida. Angry callers immediately jammed the phones at his restaurants. "The manager said it was so frustrating, she wanted to unplug the phone," Mouannes told HuffPost. "People didn't like what they heard and were saying they wouldn't support Denny's, but we have nothing to do with that decision. I am not a fan of the idea. We are opposing the 5 percent [surcharge] -- it's not even a consideration for us."
In short, if you have a hankering for Denny's but don't want to support Mr. Surcharge, find out if the Denny's you would be going to is owned by RREMC; if it's not in Florida, Georgia or Virginia, it's definitely not, and there are plenty of non-Metz Denny's in those states. Not that it's likely that any Denny's franchise is what you'd call a good, living-wage employer.
Metz is the franchisor of the lower-profile Hurricane Grill and Wings chain, though, so no one's going to come in from above and change his thinking, or that of any franchisees, for the better there.