WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Over the last several years, business operations have changed significantly at West Hollywood restaurant Le Petit Four. The staff has been cut in half. They used to have a barista and a hostess, but now servers are expected to do it all. It is just one of the numerous ways the restaurant has had to cut back amid a minimum wage increase in the city. 

General Manager Luc Mena used to focus on running the business side of the restaurant, but now no role is beneath him. He even sets tables and seats customers. 

"You've got to fill up all the cracks in the business and fill every position," Mena said. 

West Hollywood has the highest minimum wage in the nation at $19.08 per hour. Restaurants across the city are struggling to keep their doors open as a result. 

Businesses have banded together, with more than 50 restaurants having signed a letter to the city calling for a moratorium on wage increases. 

Mena added that the increase in minimum wage hit business owners at a particularly hard time. 

"Especially to do it right after a global pandemic and in the middle of inflation being rampant," Mena said. 

This all comes as the minimum wage for fast food workers across California will rise to $20 per hour beginning in April. 

Economist and professor at Claremont Graduate University, Ryan Patel, stressed the importance of that dollar figure to the employees. 

"When you think about every dollar for every hour you put in for the rest of the year, that's a lot of money."

He added that he understands the problems this can cause for small businesses. According to Patel, it leaves owners with two options; raise prices or cut back on the workforce. 

"It puts pressure on the business owners because the margins are already so thin," he said. 

Mena feels that pain. Le Petit Four has already had to raise prices on their menu because of the new wage increase, but he said the rise in prices does not truly represent the amount needed to turn a profit.

"The steak would have to go from $30 to $50, and we just can't do that," he said. 

Mena said he hopes that the city will rescind the new mandate, otherwise he fears more restaurants will shut down.