Apparently, it's not just restaurant and bar owners that are fretting over the impact an increase in minimum wage might have on business! Former San Francisco mayor, now alleged lobbyist and SF Chronicle columnist Willie Brown is joining the opposition camp, suggesting that the pay rate change could harm what he describes as the city's "soft" restaurant business.

Brown worries that, during his recent visits, Bourbon Steak (in the St. Francis Hotel) and the local outpost of restaurant chain Hakkasan were both sparely populated. Between that and the closures of Fleur de Lys and Grand Cafe, Brown frets that "the city needs to pay attention to the opening and closing of restaurants."

"We need to ask: Why are they closing?"

SFist's Jay Barmann, who's covered every beat of the SF restaurant scene for years, has an answer for Brown: progress. Regarding Fleur de Lys, Barmann says that after the venue's 44 year run, "That style of dining is dying everywhere." As for Hakkasan, maybe the "generally mediocre food" is behind its emptiness.

"The San Francisco restaurant scene is flooded with options right now," Barmann says. "There is always a process of attrition, especially with outdated concepts and older spots whose best days are behind them."

Brown, however, seems to believe that the way SF approaches the industry might be to blame. "The proposed minimum wage applied to restaurant waiters is ridiculous," Brown says, echoing restaurant and bar owners who spoke with his publication earlier this week. Those folks were dismayed by Mayor Ed Lee's proposal to let voters decide to gradually raise San Francisco's minimum wage to $15/hour by 2018, saying that these servers are already being tipped and don't need the hourly rate increase.

"At Hakkasan, for example, if six people are in the party there’s a 20 percent mandatory gratuity," Brown says. "Waiters don’t need a higher minimum wage."

But of course, there's an exception to even that decree, one we continue to find deeply suspicious. According to Brown, "The guy behind the counter at Subway" has a right to "the higher minimum wage." What is it with Chronicle columnists and Subway?

[Inside Scoop]