Filomena Restaurant Cuts Lunch Buffet “as a result of the Healthcare reform” UPDATE: Filomena Responds

filomena_aca_politics_health_care
1063 Wisconsin Ave, NW

“Dear PoPville,

My friend pointed out that Filomena had discontinued serving its Friday buffet as of January 1, which by itself isn’t that big of a deal…until you see their reason:

FILOMENA BUFFET NOTICE:

As of January, 1, 2014, Filomena has discontinued its Friday Lunch Buffet. We regret we had to make this decision but unfortunately we face new expenses as a result of the Healthcare reform and the Friday Buffet, though wonderful, was not profitable and required extra staff which we can no longer sustain. We regret any inconvenience and on a good note, we will continue our Saturday Buffet and invite you to try our much improved Sunday Brunch Buffet!

Companies cutting back on staff because of healthcare costs was a big part of the debate over the ACA, but this is the first time that I’ve seen a restaurant publicly say that they are cutting staff. From what I’ve read, businesses that have fewer than 50 employees don’t have to provide health insurance, but can get tax breaks if they do cover their employees.

Long story short, I wonder if there are other restaurants in the area that have made similar statements in response to the ACA. Are businesses really running into financial problems because of the law, or are they using the law as a cover for decisions that they were going to have to make anyway?”

UPDATE: Filomena responds:

“In response to various inquires regarding our decision to discontinue the Friday Buffet we wish to clarify some information regarding the reasons behind it and offer some facts and hopefully clear up any misunderstandings many seem to have.

The buffet notice was intended to help explain to those Friday regular lunch buffet customers who were very upset why we stopped offering it and in some cases were demanding explanation. We were not trying to offend anyone or make a political statement but only tried to be honest with our regular Friday customers as to why we stopped it before they walked down all the steps to the dining room. Some were upset that they came down the steps specifically for the buffet and suggested we put a sign on the window before people walked down the steps, which we did. Maybe we could have written a long statement like below to better explain as to why we stopped the Friday Lunch Buffet or not put any sign and just let people be angry but being in business here for 30 years we don’t like to do that and only want to offer good customers explanation. Below hopefully it will show that Filomena is doing what most restaurants are not – offering full healthcare coverage to all 86 of it’s employees this year as of January 1st and not wait until January 2015 like it could.

Filomena employed 85 employees before we stopped the Friday lunch buffet, January 3rd and as of today employee 86 employees and in fact are advertising for some new staff because our making some changes to operations to help pay for the Healthcare Reform by increasing business which has been successful so far.

Even though the Health Care Reform employer mandate of 50 or more employees had to be offered healthcare coverage was postponed one year, Filomena decided to offer that coverage, this year, 2014 and not wait until 2015 as most restaurants have done. We want to offer coverage to our employees but honestly have to find new ways to pay for it since we are so labor intense (close to 90 employees for 150 seat restaurant).

Because of the potentially large new expense of offering healthcare coverage to 90 employees, we had to look for areas of operations that were either marginal or losing money to trim expenses or losses and find new areas to increase business so that we could keep all our employees and continue to grow our business.

Because restaurants such as ours, 86 employees, are so labor intense the potential expense of offering coverage to so many could threaten independently owned restaurants like ours. Our goal is to tackle the problem head on and find ways to pay for it without losing our employees. We have in fact done this by only offering a la carte lunch on Fridays, continue to offer the Saturday lunch Buffet and develop a new Spectacular new Sunday Brunch Buffet that has been a big success since its launch thus.

Filomena

Michael J. Chiacchieri
Vice-president
Georgetown Restaurant Corporation
t/a Filomena Ristorante
t/a Filomena’s Georgetown Bakery”

189 Comment

  • If they were already losing money on it, then the swipe at the ACA is completely gratuitous. I sure won’t be eating there any time soon.

  • it would be interesting to know if they actually let employees go, or if this was an effort to make sure that they kept their employees under the number of hours (30) that shifts them to full-time.

    in any case, I’m always skeptical when companies say things like “OBAMACARE IS THE SOLE REASON WE’RE LAYING OFF X EMPLOYEES.” no, the reason is that the buffet wasn’t profitable, and the demand wasn’t there.

    • *ding*ding*ding*
      WINNER!
      .
      It’s called “cost of doing business.” In the history of the world, those costs have never gone down. They go up every year, along with prices.

    • Pwc – sorry for any misunderstanding. We have not let any employees go and in fact offer healthcare to all 81 employees. 5 are part time. We actually are trying to preserve jobs and find ways to help pay the new large healthcare expense that we started this year, Jan 1 instead of next year like so many of our fellow restaurants are doing since the mandate was postponed. Please read our response to the article above and give us a chance to clarify.

  • This is absurd.

  • Give me a break. They obviously weren’t providing near the quality of health insurance to their employees. Or they are trying to reduce their employees hours so they aren’t technically “full time” and therefore not required to have health insurance. It’s a game. I love how small businesses are using Obamacare as a crutch. It’s an excuse for everything. I’ll never be back to Filomena.

  • My husband and I have been there several times, but after this absurd and clearly disingenuous note we will not be going back.

    • Kenyon-before you give up on us please read our response above. There is a misunderstanding. We have embraced offering healthcare (and vision, dental, accident, critical care) to our employees this year instead of next year since it was postponed. I sadly can’t say that for our fellow restaurants in DC. Our goal as you can read above was to honestly tell our regular Friday Buffet customers why we stopped it on Fridays, Obviously we didn’t do it well but hope you will give us a chance to explain.

      • You should’ve posted that you stopped it because it wasn’t profitable, which is the truth. If you’re such fine businessmen, you’d know better than to engage in an operation that isn’t turning a profit.

        I’ll also take my restaurant dollars elsewhere.

  • epric002

    must say i agree with the other posters- seems like the not-profitable buffet was the problem, not the ACA.

    • The market, not health care, determined that their product did not have enough value to be profitable.

      This healthcare law ia having an unexpected ancillary benefit of giving businesses cover for weeding out inefficiencies in their business model. I just wish they were more honest about it. Bad enough a lot of restaurants expect customers to pay most of their employees’ salaries through tips.

      • We are so sorry for any misunderstanding but the above article printed our response because we needed to clarify that Filomena is now offering healthcare to all 81 full time employees (5 part time) this year, 2014 even though the government postponed the employer mandate until next year 2015 for business like ours with more than 50 employees. Sadly I can’t say that about most of our fellow restaurants here in DC. We were just trying to be honest to our regular Friday Buffet customers who were upset and asking why. I guess we just should have been more elaborate on the reasons why we did stop it on Fridays. We do still offer the lunch buffet on Saturdays and improved our Sunday Brunch so much so that we actually are looking for new help. No one here has lost their jobs ore has been cut to part-time.

        • I think we all get your point – we are not misunderstanding it.
          You made a business decision to stop subsidizing your customers by serving a non-profitable meal. You chose to offer insurance now, prior to being required to do it next year; good for you, though you might have chosen to do this in 2013 or any other year. In any case, you are missing the point several folks here are making – none of these choices you made were forced on you by the ACA and it’s disingenuous of you to claim they were. You made some choices for your own reasons, and you should own those choices; lay off the blame, and maybe some of these folks will visit your restaurant again. I doubt I will.

          • I think you missed it. Filomena is cutting costs where it can to offer healthcare now ahead of next years’s mandate. Absent that mandate, they could have offered not healthcare (or less than what is mandated). The reality is health reform, while good in many ways, undeniably raises costs. Everyone who defends Obamacare (which includes me) needs to acknowledge this reality if the defense is going to be effective.

          • I understand the issue. The Friday buffet was marginally profitable, or somewhat non-profitable, but was worth offering to bring customers in, perhaps to return at other times. With ACA the buffet became truly un-profitable and was cancelled. Makes sense at the price point for the buffet. Perhaps if you increased the price, explaining that the increase was to pay for ACA costs, the diners would continue to come, and be pleased to support health care. It’s worth a try; have you considered this approach?

  • I’ll never eat there again

  • Yeah, poor marketing move in a fairly liberal city that doesn’t find this kind of nonsense humorous. Won’t be returning. Almost went last night for restaurant week. Very glad I did not.

  • Two things:

    1) The ACA employer mandate has been delayed until 2015.

    2) The employer mandate does not affect businesses with fewer than 50 employees that work 30 hours per week.

    In other words, Filomena’s excuse is bullshit.

  • So they stopped doing something that was unprofitable.

  • Businesses with 50 or fewer FTE employees are exempt from the requirement that they offer coverage to employees working 30 hours per week or more. Even if Filomena has more than 50 FTE employees, they can get around this requirement as many other businesses are doing (and as businesses did when the trigger was 40 hours per week) — just schedule people under that threshold at, say, 29 hours per week and not incur any more expenses.

    What’s just as likely is that the health care company is raising their rates and blaming it on Obamacare — we saw that happen in our own company.

    Still, it’s a gratuitous swipe. I’ve been there on Fridays before and the buffet looked like it hadn’t been touched in hours. It was already a losing proposition and I’m annoyed that they’re blaming a business decision on a law that had nothing to do with it — and politicizing the restaurant in the process. I’m amazed that restaurants (Filomena, Papa John’s, etc.) think it’s good publicity to say “we are being forced to offer our staff benefits, but we don’t want to cut into our own profits, therefore we will be raising prices/cancelling our buffet/taking our ball and going home.”

    • “I’m amazed that restaurants (Filomena, Papa John’s, etc.) think it’s good publicity to say “we are being forced to offer our staff benefits, but we don’t want to cut into our own profits, therefore we will be raising prices/cancelling our buffet/taking our ball and going home.”’
      .
      Breaking news: lots of successful business owners display sociopath tendencies

    • Dear Cleary-
      We are so sorry there is so much misunderstanding going on here at Filomena. Please read our above response but also know importantly we do employee 86 employees (81 full time) and the reason for stopping the Friday Lunch Buffet was to cut some expense and losses to cover new healthcare expense since we decided to start offering coverage this year, 2014 and not wait until the required mandate of 2015 that I sadly say most of our fellow restaurants in DC will do. Just please give us a chance. Thank you.

  • I wonder if is going to affect their rating on yelp…

  • whatever, i’ll bet the crappy buffet was it’s own demise

  • Ridiculous. And did they honestly think people would hear about this, believe it, and sympathize? They certainly don’t think much of the intelligence of their clientele.

  • Way to politicize a simple lunch. Bad move.

  • Yup. Count me as another diner who will never patronize Filomena again. Such a stupid PR decision.

  • I thiught this place was already slated to close down?

  • what b.s.—will never set foot inside this restaurant again.

  • Also, this is probably the first time i’ve seen all commenters in violent agreement :)

  • This is great. Talk about being tone deaf. If this were Oklahoma or South Carolina, I can see the reason behind the message. But here?? HA HA HA. Fantastic way to illustrate how not to market yourself.

  • The only reason I ever went there was the Christmas decorations, not the food. Now that I know this about their ownership I will never set foot in Filomena again.

    • Dear KR-
      We understand why you would be upset but please give us a chance to explain this misunderstanding. We haven’t cut any jobs and actually offer healthcare coverage to all 81 (full time) employees (5 partime not eligible). We were just trying to be honest with our regular Friday Buffet Customers who many were very upset and wanted to know why. We did cut the Friday Buffet but kept the Saturday and now offer a new improved Sunday Brunch Buffet that is making up for the loss of the Friday Buffet. In fact we’re advertising to add jobs. I can’t say this about most of our fellow restaurants in DC. Please read our response above and give us another chance.

  • The part of ACA mandate that makes this true was set back till next year, so try again Filomena.

    I used to go to Filomena once or twice a month, but I won’t be going again. I don’t have the time or patience for companys who have made healthy profits passing off what should have been their responsibility from the start, onto the public at large, especially when you make such flagrantly transparent and politicized choices.

    I just ate there before Christmas. It will be my last time.

    • Dear No More-
      Please read the above response the author kindly posted. We know the mandate was set back a year but we decided that we wanted to offer the healthcare coverage to our employees this year and not wait. We’re all for it and only tried to be honest with the regular Friday Buffet customers as to why we had to stop the Friday Buffet. We still offer it on Saturday and now do a much improved Sunday Brunch that so far is successful. No one has lost any jobs and in fact we are advertising to hire more. It’s just we should have been more clear and now we’re dealing with so many misunderstandings. Hope you will reconsider and come again. Sorry.

  • Damn you Obama!!!

  • I’m kinda thinking their problem is less a result of the ACA and more because their food just isn’t very good. I tried to like the place, but it’s just mediocre.

  • Will be interesting to see them try to pedal backwards when they realize how dumb it was to put this out there.

  • I haven’t been in years, but certainly never will again.

  • Meanwhile they still seem seem to think it is a good idea to offer this deal
    http://www.groupon.com/deals/filomena-ristorante

  • #PlacesIWillNeverSpendMoneyAtAgain

  • We live in a free market economy and this business has every right to adjust accordingly to unnecessary government mandates. I, for one, applaud their actions.

  • So let me get this straight-

    The crusaders posting here are refusing to ever to this restaurant again (if they ever went in the first place) because they are cutting service so they can keep employees. So the boycott proves that you are an informed and progressive person. Wonderful.

    But now, since you myriad of heroes have boycotted this place they have a decrease in business and have to lay off more employees, or if all goes well the restaurant goes under. Swell. So now to prove your outrage you have organized a cabal of truth warriors to not only hurt the servers and employees but create a vacancy in the business community.

    Just wonderful.

    • I don’t think you got any of it straight.

      • Oh, well I would disagree and say I pretty much nailed the whole thing.

        But I am listening.

        • A number of commenters and the article itself said that it’s unlikely that the buffet was closed because of the ACA, and that the more likely culprit is that it simply was not profitable. Rather than say that and be done with it the restaurant decided to blame the healthcare act, which is inaccurate. People may be entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.

          Not sure if the backlash will die down if the restaurant releases a statement saying that they said something false, or if they remove the quote from their website.

          • So the answer is to try and deprive the restaurant of more business as a response? Thats…thats the rational approach?

            Someone said something you disagreed with- something that no one on here outside of the restaurants accountant can really know- so the answer is to shut them down?

            If the only fact that matters is that it isnt profitable anymore, who cares what they blame it on? Did Filomenas undermine the ACA in anyway at all? I mean- is the ACA really a sacred cow among certain political leanings?

          • I love that commenters speculating on the cause of something is given more credit than the restaurant’s statement of the cause.
            .
            And even if the buffet was not wholly profitable, neither are many tricks bars and restaurants use to get people in the door, such as deeply discounted happy hours, places that offer a free happy hour food spread, etc. However, you change up the costs of doing business (for any reason) and certain things have to get cut. Now the restaurant is getting pilloried for naming one cost of doing business.

          • @Truth Warrior – yup, that’s what’s happening. There was absolutely no need to single out that one particular cost. Comes off as extremely amateur.

          • Except, once again, the business is not affected by the ACA provisions right now. Could it be a cost of business one day if they have more than 50 employees? Yes. Is it one now? No. The small business provisions were even pushed back a year.

          • So….why the boycott?

            Do you get a pin that says “I support Obamas ACA no matter what! FEELINGS!”?
            Can I get one?

          • The employer mandate isn’t the only potential cost increase on small businesses under the ACA. Perhaps – and I say that because none of us (unless the owner/accountant is lurking on here) know – they already offer health care benefits. Except the plan they offered was cancelled under the ACA, so they picked up a new plan for their employees, and instead of passing along the increased costs to the employees, are actually eating the increases themselves.

          • There’s no organized boycott. People are free to chose where they want to spend their disposable income. I don’t understand your disconnect here – it’s really pretty simple.

          • So you need the UAW to organize or its not a boycott?

            Got it.

            Its a real learning day here.

          • Maybe they are eating some of the costs — none of us knows for sure. But instead of saying “due to the low profit margin we are no longer offering the buffet” they have politicized the decision. Perhaps they were expecting an outpouring of sympathy. In that case they misjudged the audience.

            Freedom of speech means you can say what you want — but it doesn’t mean other people can’t disagree with your decisions and choose not to patronize your restaurant.

          • @Truth Warrior
            You could be correct that, in the case that they were offering health insurance, that the premiums increased by such an amount that it makes it unprofitable. I don’t know if they have a lot of full-time employees, (that seems like it would be relatively rare in the restaurant industry) so it’s possible that they weren’t insuring anyone in the first place.

            It’s unlikely that a Filomena waiter is going to fill us in, which is a bummer.

          • You realize that folks aren’t actually organizing anything on here, right? Keep trolling though – seems to be working ;-)

        • Filomena chose to make a non-political situation very political in the most political place in the country. The owner chose political sides publically and, intentional or not, alienated a group of customers. To further illustrate the owner’s bad business sense they chose to alienate a group that, according to polling, is in the majority.

          I support the ACA and all workers who need and deserve healthcare. I want the people preparing and handling my food to be healthy. As a consumer I have choices and I’m choosing not to give my business to a business owner who doesn’t believe in affordable healthcare for all or is so stupid to think this was a good business decision.

          To be clear, I’m calling for a boycott

          • + 1 – This. Filomena chose to make a political statement. Those who don’t agree with their political statement have expressed their opinion and decided not to patronize the restaurant. What could be more American?

    • Crusaders? You do know the meaning of that word, right? Here’s one definition: “an organized campaign concerning a political, social, or religious issue, typically motivated by a fervent desire for change.” Pretty sure that posting one’s opinion on a relatively unknown hyperlocal site crusade does not make.

      • Oh no? Calling for a boycott doesn’t fit into that definition.

        Let me go back and google some more definitions.

        You can be angry at the reason they give, but its not rational.

        Its just feelings.

        • Hey, I thought this was a free market and I could spend my money how I want?
          So you’re saying we MUST spend our money there? That doesn’t seem very American.

        • No one’s calling for a boycott.. People are simply choosing to exercise their right as consumers to decide where they want to spend your discretionary dollars. They don’t agree with the sentiments behind the business decision, so they’re choosing not to patronize it. If that leads to the business shutting down, it’s no one’s fault but that business’.

          • That sounds exactly like a boycott.

            Maybe Im wrong…but a group of people deciding en masse not to go a business…sounds…uhm…like not a boycott?

            My point is- that this “choosing to not go to a restaurant” isnt really helping anything. So maybe all of the hero-outrage should be reformed a little…

          • If the business is responsive to a dip in customers it probably will ask why this happened, right? That’s how businesses figure out that something isn’t working? I’m not advocating a boycott by any means, but if the owner pays attention to his marketing at all then he will make an adjustment…whatever that adjust may be.

        • Your argument is this: if we’re concerned about the workers than we shouldn’t boycott it. But that is ultimately a hollow argument. We can punish the restaurant, which will punish the workers, but still achieve our stated goals if it means other restaurants will get the message. Or it could reverse this restaurant’s position before doing material harm to the workers.

          The point is that your logic leads to a comical result: we can’t boycott it because we might hurt the people we care about, so we should go and reward the owners?

  • As a long-time (more than 40 years) health economist, I call this move nasty political BS.

    I will never darken the door of this restaurant (Filomena) and advise other to do the same.

    Wobble

  • they should do what Walmart does. Encourage its employees to sign up for Medicaid and TANF or organize food drives among employees so their co-workers can feed their families.

  • Obama’s America. drink it in.

  • Won’t be here again. Already looking forward to the POPville post announcing the demise of this place.

  • Obviously incorrect and childish. I, along with the others, will be spending my money elsewhere.

  • I don’t believe Filomena’s reasoning for a minute but even if it were true (a HUGE “if”) this restaurant owner operates in a city with more politically aware liberals than conservatives. It’s a stupid business move on his/her part to make this public pronouncement — zero upside for them, lots of potential downside.

    Maybe the 17 conservatives in DC will rally behind them.

  • I love PoPville for the interesting local stories, crime and restaurant info, and Afternoon Animal Fix. But when it comes to politics, this blog is a freakin’ echo chamber. It’s this glaring ideological insularity that I find unappealing and tedious (and yes, I’d find it on the other side if I visited Hillsdale College). What a bore. There’s nothing more uninteresting than a bunch of people all saying the same thing, over and over and over again- all with self-righteous and smug indignation.

  • STOP THE MADNESS!!!!! IT’S A F—ING BUFFET AT A RESTAURANT NO ONE SHOULD REALLY CARE ABOUT!!!!!!!!!! IF YOU LIKE THE FOOD GO, IF NOT DON’T!!!! WHY DO YOU GUYS CARE SO MUCH ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I heard Chick-fil-a is coming to the 14th st corridor…….

    • Cracker Barrel, too. ;)

    • I hope they have a float in the Pride Parade. DC needs mor gay chikin.

    • Are they also posting on their websites that the main reason for a business decision was the ACA? I’m sure that both of their PR departments are smarter than that, but it could also endear them with more conservative states if they take a pot shot at something that conservatives hate.

  • epric002

    oh my, we have some crazies in our midst today.

  • I think the entire government should be privatized.

  • In the immortal words of Whitney Houston: “Show me the receipts!!!”

  • It’s as if the jack-booted IRS Obama thugs had raided the place and snatched the meatballs right out of the mouths of all those poor Friday buffet patrons.

  • In response to various inquires regarding our decision to discontinue the Friday Buffet we wish to clarify some information regarding the reasons behind it and offer some facts and hopefully clear up any misunderstandings many seem to have.

    The buffet notice was intended to help explain to those Friday regular lunch buffet customers who were very upset why we stopped offering it and in some cases were demanding explanation. We were not trying to offend anyone or make a political statement but only tried to be honest with our regular Friday customers as to why we stopped it before they walked down all the steps to the dining room. Some were upset that they came down the steps specifically for the buffet and suggested we put a sign on the window before people walked down the steps, which we did. Maybe we could have written a long statement like below to better explain as to why we stopped the Friday Lunch Buffet or not put any sign and just let people be angry but being in business here for 30 years we don’t like to do that and only want to offer good customers explanation. Below hopefully it will show that Filomena is doing what most restaurants are not – offering full healthcare coverage to all 86 of it’s employees this year as of January 1st and not wait until January 2015 like it could.

    Filomena employed 85 employees before we stopped the Friday lunch buffet, January 3rd and as of today employee 86 employees and in fact are advertising for some new staff because our making some changes to operations to help pay for the Healthcare Reform by increasing business which has been successful so far.

    Even though the Health Care Reform employer mandate of 50 or more employees had to be offered healthcare coverage was postponed one year, Filomena decided to offer that coverage, this year, 2014 and not wait until 2015 as most restaurants have done. We want to offer coverage to our employees but honestly have to find new ways to pay for it since we are so labor intense (close to 90 employees for 150 seat restaurant).

    Because of the potentially large new expense of offering healthcare coverage to 90 employees, we had to look for areas of operations that were either marginal or losing money to trim expenses or losses and find new areas to increase business so that we could keep all our employees and continue to grow our business.

    Because restaurants such as ours, 86 employees, are so labor intense the potential expense of offering coverage to so many could threaten independently owned restaurants like ours. Our goal is to tackle the problem head on and find ways to pay for it without losing our employees. We have in fact done this by only offering a la carte lunch on Fridays, continue to offer the Saturday lunch Buffet and develop a new Spectacular new Sunday Brunch Buffet that has been a big success since its launch thus.

    • “Because of the potentially large new expense of offering healthcare coverage to 90 employees…”

      That’s where you lost me and everyone else in your attempt to clarify. You decided to publicly blame a law- under which you are not mandated to follow- for something that MIGHT happen.

      No one cares what your politics are when we eat (ate) at your restaurant and a simple “we are discontinuing our Friday Buffet” would have sufficed for 99% of your clientele. Instead you trotted out the tired old “Obamacare is killing us” trope to use as a convenient scapegoat.

    • So the real problem is too many steps?

  • Man, I’m not a conservative at all, but do people really think there’s no such thing as regulatory costs? Or that it’s impossible that increased regulatory costs can reduce profit margins to the point that a semi-profitable line of business becomes unprofitable? You can support a regulation or law, like the ACA, and still recognize the reality that this does impose a cost on businesses.

  • Oh that’s rich- particularly because they have a Groupon today for brunch! I thought about getting it but after seeing this, absolutely not! Good luck Filomena, perhaps enough people won’t see this ridiculous statement on your site and still buy the deal.

    • Any restaurant that’s looking for Groupon business isn’t doing well and further explains that Filomena’s attempt to place blame on politics is nothing more than BS.

  • Well this just means Filomena has fallen out of my dining out rotation until they reverse the decision and admit they were just being cheap bastards who don’t want to take care of their staff. Have fun watching your other shifts become “unprofitable” as your customers go elsewhere, guys!

  • Why are you staying? I heard the South is nice this time of the year….

  • The restaurant should be applauded for offering healthcare to their employees (even if ultimately required), though how many of the employees are considered FTEs is unclear. The ACA applies “only to employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees that don’t offer coverage or whose coverage doesn’t meet certain minimum standards.” The 85 employees may wind up being only 42 FTEs, which allows Filomena to qualify for a tax break (owners and family members of small business owners don’t count in ACA calculations).

    What isn’t addressed by Chiacchieri is why it was necessary to call attention to the ACA in the first place. Were “potentially large” healthcare expenses the only factor? If there were other factors, such as increased supply costs, why weren’t those also mentioned? The Friday service must have been unprofitable or barely profitable before the restaurant decided to extend healthcare.

    You could have also just said “As of January 1, 2014, Filomena will no longer be offering Friday buffet service. We apologize for the inconvenience, and welcome you to enjoy our authentic Italian cuisine during our other hours of operation.” The reason this came to a head in the first place is that publicly blaming healthcare costs seemed unbelievable, especially considering that other restaurants weren’t publicly doing so.

    • Thank you for your comments and we do have 81 full time and only 5 part time employees which won’t change. We’re a 30 year only family owned restaurant and we want everyone to keep their full time jobs and get coverage. You are correct that higher supplier costs are also a contributing factor to a degree and stopping it on Friday’s is just a small part of what we need to continue to do in finding new ways to cover these new expenses. We are taking small steps to work it all out without anyone losing their job or us going out of business. Honestly we wish we could have offered it in the past but please understand that we have so many employees (restaurants like ours are so labor intense) that we will figure it all out and make it work. We still do the buffet on Saturdays and improved our Sunday Brunch Buffet and now are actually hiring new staff. You are correct that we should have worded it differently but hope people will read your comment and understand.

  • Your comment does not indicate that your level of intelligence is unusual in this city.

  • This won’t hurt their business at all since tourists will be unaware of this.

  • Who eats at a buffet? Are we in Indiana?

  • Poorly worded!!

  • How dare a businessman talk about economics. Doesn’t he know the smartest people in the known universe are
    DC liberals? Why they can explain anything. Whether they could run a restaurant is irrelevant.

  • Leaving politics aside, can we all agree that this constitutes a significant win for the ACA in terms of improving the overall health of the populace? That buffet was horrific, and if the ACA truly was responsible for its elimination, that’s a public health victory.

  • Our hats off to Filomena and its ability to make the ACA work for it and its employees. This is not the case throughout the restaurant industry. Since early last year restaurant owners have been forced to cut employee hours to help pay for the the costs of this new law and still remain in business. Like Filomena’s customers, other restaurant customers may notice changes in hours, service levels, prices and offerings, as the owners adjust their businesses to pay for the ACA. As financial advisors to the food service industry for over 30 years, we hear owners complain that this new law is the most significant challenge facing restaurant owners today.

  • I can’t believe the negative comments are coming even after Filomena’s update. Instead of firing people or gaming the system by cutting people to 29 hours, the restaurant is cutting a marginal aspect of its business to ensure that it can pay for health insurance for all of its employees. That sounds like a business decision it should be lauded for and places Filomena ahead of a large proportion of restaurants I would imagine. The original statement could have been better of course, but Filomena even cleared that up noting that regulars wanted a specific reason why the buffet was cut.

    • OK
      I commend them for treating their employees right (more important).
      I criticize them for making a poor political statement that is factually incorrect (less important).
      But it’s the internet, so people need to pipe up when someone is “wrong”.

    • ACA calculates FTEs differently. They take the total number of hours for the whole company and divide that by 2080. This allows it to get around places cutting individual hours.

      I still don’t believe that this joint had 85 FTEs. That’s insanely high for a restaurant.

  • I wonder how all of the people who are so proudly intending to never eat there again will feel when the restaurant has to fire half of its staff due to lower revenues?
    “Filomena hates the working class I’ll never eat there again!!!!1″

  • Any business that wants to pin their issues publicly on a political bill (Healthcare Reform) is attempting to make a political statement. Suck it up- your Friday buffet wasn’t making money- don’t attempt to place blame on politics. I do appreciate the heads-up though so that I will stay away from Filomena Mon – Sun.

    • As a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, I think it’s unfortunate that the majority of posters on this thread, are revealing that compassion not tempered with an understanding of business can have unintended negative consequences. Filomena’s explanation is not necessarily a cop-out. Prior to the additional cost of providing full benefits for it’s employees, the decision to continue an unprofitable service may have been absorbed by other more profitable services, or even as a marketing cost. But adding another cost to the balance sheet, no matter how legitimate, required them to make a business decision to offset the cost and maintain their required margin. Yes, they could have raised prices, but that would have likely have made their customers even angrier. A small price increase for existing customers or services is generally more profitable than finding new customers or launching new services. Filomena’s did not raise prices and they didn’t fire people. There is no evidence that they are operating at an unfair profit margin. They have every right as a business entity to be profitable. They can’t just print money like the Fed. They have to be responsible, and I think they are. Businesses aren’t successful because of good intentions. They are successful because they understand their financials. Understanding their financials allows them to implement their intentions, whether good or bad. Filomena’s has good intentions AND understands their financials. All those with well intentioned criticism, should take a moment and consider financials. The math always has to add up, and businesses will have to make decisions on how to implement the ACA. We should hope more of them follow Filomena’s lead!!!!!!!!!

    • Or maybe the ACA bill increased over head which pinched margins… it’s pretty simple really.

      For myself the ACA has increased my personal healthcare expenses significantly so that money will have to come out of something somewhere, why would this not apply to a restaurant.

  • After reading Filomena’s responses I’m inclined to believe that this was just a very poorly thought-out (and yes, distasteful) sign, and not a giant conspiracy to screw their employees. What turns me off though is that they continue to post reply after reply in this comments section. It just sounds desperate and is very unattractive. Kinda creepy, actually. “Don’t leave me, I’ll change!”

  • justinbc

    So, what are they gonna do about all those steps?

  • Sounds like they are simply using the restaurant and the menu to voice their political views. They already said the buffet was not profitable. Now they have something to blame it on besides poor management or a bad idea.

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