Michelle Obama hosting Punch Pizza CEO and worker at tonight's State of the Union

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Thumbnail image for PunchPizzaCityPages.jpg
Aaron Landry
The pizza oven at Punch Pizza's St. Paul/Highland Park location
Punch Pizza CEO John Soranno and employee Nick Chute have been invited to attend the State of the Union address tonight as guests of First Lady Michelle Obama. The local company recently bumped its store employees' minimum wage to $10 an hour, and tonight's invitation is a national nod from an administration eager to introduce a higher federal minimum wage. 

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"It's the coolest thing," Soranno says. "We're this little company being recognized on the biggest stage. It's like being the needle that's found in a haystack."

As President Obama works to win support for an increased federal minimum wage (up to $10.10 an hour by 2015), smaller businesses already increasing wages are being looked to as models. 

Soranno says he and his partner John Puckett looked at businesses like In-and-Out Burger and Costco and were inspired to increase Punch Pizza's minimum wage. He feels valuing employees this way syncs up with his overall hopes for the company. 

"Higher wages is just one thing," he says. "We want to do everything better -- from quality food to well-trained, enthusiastic cooks. A higher wage just helps motivate the workers we have to get us there." 

As to whether or not Soranno now believes his business is a model to follow, he doesn't seem too ready to throw open any windows and preach to others. His mind is just on the next pie heading for the oven.

"We're just going to do the same thing tomorrow as what we did today," he says. "Only make it better." 

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25 comments
David Bishop
David Bishop

How refreshing. You would hope that the Walmart family see this.

Angela Giedd
Angela Giedd

10 dollars an hour is still within the federal poverty level for a family of 3

Brian Pavek
Brian Pavek

The next restaurant is going to open in Maple Grove!

hefbuck
hefbuck

@TimothyNoah1 yeah and Scott walker improved the economy in Minnesota that had to help.

Richard Hahn
Richard Hahn

When I have a taste for Pizza, I will now go out my way to patronize Punch Pizza ... Thank you for your leadership!

Steve Nathe
Steve Nathe

Wonderful experience for them! (Though I wonder if they will be referred to or used as an example for any other political purpose by Obama--hopefully not.) Great exposure and move by John for his employees!

GieFer MiKe
GieFer MiKe

Great! All around! Hopefully they have set an example for other businesses. Proud of them!

Divna
Divna

Too bad. Pizza Nea is so much better! Punch has a horrible soggy crust.

Deanne Miller
Deanne Miller

Love Punch Pizza and love they start employees at $10 an hour.

Wally Widlund
Wally Widlund

Yeah, I too like Punch Pizza, they're nearly outside our door. Best of all, they start their employees at 10 -bucks an hour!!

Jules Michels
Jules Michels

I love Punch Pizza! Now I'm craving it! Thanks!

ajlalk3
ajlalk3 topcommenter

@mingtran They are idiots for paying their people higher wages, which will then result in happier, more productive workers, and a better customer service experience for everyone? Yeah, ok.

WhiteMatt
WhiteMatt

Yeah, because now that they earn $10/hr, they can afford that Mercedes they always wanted.

ajlalk3
ajlalk3 topcommenter

@WhiteMatt So, what is your problem here? Do you think they should be paid nothing at all? Minimum wage? What? The owner already said this move, in the long run, will help his business, not hurt it. So, it's good for the business owner, and good for the employees, yet you're bitching and moaning about it.

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