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Minimum Wage Hike Hits Oakland Chinatown Shop, Restaurant Owners Hard

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Some shop owners in Oakland's Chinatown say business is down, and they are struggling to stay afloat after the city's minimum wage increased to over $12-an-hour, making it the highest in the country.

Chinatown restaurant Vien Huong owner Daniel Tran has been trying to look at the glass as half-full, but has had to raise his prices and slash hours for his workers.

"As you can see I'm the only one working," Huong told KPIX 5.

According to leaders at the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, nearly a dozen restaurants and grocery shops that were already closed won't reopen because of the minimum wage hike that went into effect this month.

"This is very saddened to the entire community," Carl Chan of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

Other businesses like Half Orange that are outside Chinatown are doing okay with the hike.  "This I think offers a chance for a lot of people to make a living wage, and that's something that's been a problem in the restaurant industry a long time," owner Jay Porter said.

But, businesses within Chinatown are being hit hard by the wage hike.

"I guess because you know we are very basic, and we don't charge that much," Chan said.

Chan says he plans to meet with city leaders to talk about tax breaks, better parking, and Chinatown marketing.

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