Collier's Five Guys owner won't follow lead to raise prices due to Obamacare

Five Guys Burgers & Fries opened its fourth Collier County location in late October in the former home of Grecian Gardens, 3148 U.S. 41 E., East Naples.

Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo

Five Guys Burgers & Fries opened its fourth Collier County location in late October in the former home of Grecian Gardens, 3148 U.S. 41 E., East Naples.

JR Rosenau, the owner of the Naples' Five Guys

JR Rosenau, the owner of the Naples' Five Guys

— A Southwest Florida owner of Five Guys restaurants says he doesn’t plan to raise prices because of Obamacare, unlike a North Carolina franchise holder.

JR Rosenau, owner of four Five Guys in Collier and Monroe counties, also said he will continue to seek new locations for the popular burger joints.

“We’re looking to expand, with or without Obamacare,” Rosenau said Tuesday. “We’re not going to stop growth.”

Obamacare — or the Affordable Health Care for America Act — became law in 2010.

Earlier this month, Mike Ruffer, a Five Guys franchise holder of eight restaurants in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area, said the added costs of the health-care reform law means he will have to pass on costs to customers to provide health insurance for employees.

Ruffer also has said he will set aside plans to build more Five Guys until after he learns more about the rules and penalties employers may face.

“It was an individual opinion,” Rosenau said of Ruffer. “I can’t speak on behalf of the corporate Five Guys.”

Molly Catalano, Five Guys’ director of communications and public relations at its corporate offices in northern Virginia, was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

However, she wrote an email to the Huffington Post in mid-March: “Mike Ruffer is a franchisee of Five Guys and independent business owner. He does not represent Five Guys on this or any other subject matter.”

Five Guys, at Goodlette Corners, 1410 Pine Ridge Road in Naples.

Photo by KELLI STANKO, Special to the Daily News // Buy this photo

Five Guys, at Goodlette Corners, 1410 Pine Ridge Road in Naples.

Other restaurant chains have made news regarding health-care costs.

Last year, Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter said the president’s signature health-care reform law would increase his business costs and possibly result in employees’ hours being cut.

A part-time Naples resident, Schnatter told shareholders the Affordable Care Act would result in a 10- to 14-cent increase for customers buying a pizza.

In October, Darden Restaurants — owner of Olive Garden, Red Lobster and other restaurant chains — said it would place more employees on a part-time schedule in some markets to lower costs in anticipation of the health-care law.

Two months later, Darden backed off from the plan after a national backlash.

“You just need to find a way to figure it out,” Rosenau said. “It is what it is.”

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