Report: Panera’s Billionaire Owner Gets Sweetheart Deal from Newsom

FEB. 29, 2024 UPDATE: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office responds to allegations that a longtime donor benefited from an exemption in California’s new minimum wage law.

Newsom’s Office refuted a Bloomberg news article alleging he exempted bakeries from the state’s fast food wage law to benefit political donor Greg Flynn, who owns a number of Panera Bread locations.

A Newsom spokesman said the restaurant is not exempted from the policy and said “this story is absurd.”

FRESNO, CA (KMJ) Much has been made of California’s upcoming $20 per/hour minimum wage law affecting fast food restaurants.

The controversial law was pushed for months by Governor Gavin Newsom ahead of its passage despite an outcry by many franchisees who fear layoffs and upset customers at anticipated menu price hikes.

But a new report, has many critics crying foul and slamming the Governor for what seems to be a sweetheart carve-out for a billionaire pal of Newsom’s.

According to a report in Bloomberg, Gov. Newsom pushed for an exemption that would enable top donor and Panera Bread franchisee Greg Flynn to skirt the Golden State’s new minimum wage law.

The new law will raise workers’ pay from $16 an hour to $20 an hour at fast food restaurants with more than 60 locations nationally, except for chains that bake and sell stand-alone bread as a menu item as of Sept. 15, 2023.

Headlines have called the mysterious move “bizarre”, “odd”, “curious”. However many harsher critics are calling the carve-out “Unfair” and “Outrageous”.

Flynn, who owns two dozen Panera chains in California, gave $100,000 to help Newsom fend off a recall effort and nearly $65,000 to the governor’s reelection campaign in 2022.

The two former high school classmates, Newsom and Flynn, also have long-standing business dealings. In 2014, Flynn bought a resort in Napa Valley from Newsom.