Dining experiences likely to change because of minimum wage increase

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.  -- The state's minimum wage for tipped and nontipped employees increased 99 cents on Jan. 1.

Now Coloradans are beginning to see the impact.

"You'll definitely see some change," said Steve Kanatzer, chairman of the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Kanatzer owns The Airplane Restaurant in Colorado Springs and said he has already increased his kids menu prices.

"I increased it a dollar -- my kids menu prices went from $4.99 to $5.99," Kanatzer said.

Kanatzer estimates most restaurants will adjust prices and change staffing levels as a result, which could mean fewer servers and longer waits.

"I've got a friend who has a restaurant and he's going to do counter service from 2-4 (p.m.) so he's not going to have a server at all," Kanatzer said.

Even some servers who are recipients of the pay raise fear possible impacts.

"I'm more worried about [the restaurant owner] and how it might affect him -- not how it impacts me," said Lisa Bowen, a server at The Airplane Restaurant.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a minimum wage hike in November. It will gradually increase the rate to $12 an hour by 2020.

As a result, Kanatzer suspects more restaurants will install kiosks at tables in the hopes technology might eliminate the need for most servers.

"I love my servers to death and they understand the position we are in," Kanatzer said.