Newsom Donor Who Owns Panera Breads Will Raise Minimum Wage in California

Estimated read time 2 min read

A billionaire donor to California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’s raising pay at his Panera Bread locations after it was widely reported that they’d be exempt from a new state law boosting the minimum wage.

Greg Flynn, the franchise owner of 24 Panera Breads in the state, announced on Tuesday that he would raise the minimum wage at his locations from $16 to $20.

Newsom and Flynn have known each other for years, and Flynn has been a longtime donor to Newsom’s campaign, Business Insider previously reported. That connection brought Newsom under fire last week because the state’s new law appeared to have a potential, specific exception for Panera Bread.

The new law requires fast food chains with 60 or more locations to increase the minimum wage for their workers beginning on April 1. But, the law includes an exemption for restaurants that bake bread and sell it as a stand-alone item.

(If you’re wondering, bagels or croissants don’t count as “bread” under the law.)

A spokesperson for the governor told Business Insider that Panera may not be exempt from the new law because the chain prepares its dough at an off-site location before stores bake it.

Flynn said last week that although he had suggested excluding fast-casual restaurants from the bill, he never asked for special considerations and never met directly with Newsom about the bill, Bloomberg reported.

After the backlash, Flynn said his restaurants would follow the law — even if they didn’t have to.

“Regardless of whether the bakery exemption in AB1228 applies to our bakery-cafes, California locations owned and operated by Flynn Group will increase all hourly pre-tip wages to $20 per hour or higher effective April 1,” Flynn said in his Tuesday statement, according to KCRA.

Flynn’s pay bump for Panera workers won’t affect workers at the remaining 164 locations in California not owned by the Flynn Group — unless the governor’s office confirms that no Paneras are exempt.

The Flynn Group did not immediately respond to BI’s request for comment.