CHANDLER, Ariz. (KSAZ) - A Chandler restaurant is closing its doors, but customers are getting mixed messages about why the place is shutting down. A sign claims Arizona's minimum wage hike was partly to blame, but corporate owners are now saying that's an "overstatement."
Native Grill & Wings near Alma School and Queen Creek Roads has been open since 2009. Recently, a sign posted on the restaurant's front door alerted customers that it would be shutting down this weekend.
The minimum wage increase, or Proposition 206, was passed by Arizona voters in November of 2016 and raised the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 an hour in January and to $12 an hour in 2020 -- and that got customers talking.
The signs reads: "Due to the rising cost of business and the minimum wage increase, with our deepest regrets, we are going to be forced to close our doors. Sat. July 1st will be out last open day. We would like to thank all of the customers and our faithful regulars that have supported us and allowed us to keep our doors open thus far. Please join us on July 1st to say goodbye to our staff and the environment you all have helped us create."
"A lot of times the service has been fantastic and you can't beat good wings, but for a wage increase to cause something like this.. to shut down in the Chandler area it's real unfortunate," said Mike Ontiveros.
This location is owned by a franchisee. By midday Tuesday, the sign was taken down. Now the company's corporate headquarters claims the location is closing due to underperformance, stating, "The position on minimum wage was an overstatement by an uninformed manager.. Native Grill & Wings absolutely supports the current minimum wage."
The corporate owners of the franchise did not want to go on camera, but say they're disappointed this restaurant is closing and encourage faithful customers to visit their locations across the valley.
Apparently, this location didn't draw large crowds.
"Always a seat empty, again not due to service, I just think the fact that you didn't know it was here.. it was kind of overshadowed," said Ontiveros.
Alfred Martinez added, "It's dwindled down.. it used to be a more popular place to come, but with everything around here.. new restaurants.. it's hard to compete sometimes."
Whether it was the minimum wage hike, dwindling business or both, regulars say it definitely wasn't the wings that caused the closure.
"We will still keep going to Native.. just have to find a new one," said Martinez.
As for the employees, we're told the franchisee is trying to place them at other locations.