Calumet baker calls Cook County beverage tax a crushing blow
Jose Robles worries that the recently imposed penny-per-ounce beverage tax will be the last straw for some Cook County businesses.
“For the time being, I took all the pop out of the cooler to have a chance to get everything properly installed with our registers,” Robles, who manages the Cal City Bakery in Calumet City, told the South Cook News. “It’s a complicated thing, and some stores might just come to the conclusion it's not worth the hassle.”
The tax took effect on Aug. 1, a month later than it was to have started because of a lawsuit that claimed the tax was unconstitutional. A judge issued a temporary restraining order on the tax, but the lawsuit was eventually dismissed.
“I haven’t seen anything good come from it,” Robles said. “We’ve never really sold a lot of soda, and this won’t help. I don’t think it helps anyone, but it will impact a lot of people. It’s just something else that owners have to worry about that just makes it harder to survive. Thank God for our specialty cakes.”
Philadelphia enacted a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax in January but the results have been far below expectations, according to reports. The popular CC Orlando & Sons bakery shuttered its doors after nearly 70 years of service, with the grandson of the bakery’s founder telling Philly.com that “the soda tax was the kill shot.”
Some estimates show Philadelphia business off by as much as 60 percent, as consumers have taken to driving out of the city to buy their soda and other drinks. Collectively, Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. have laid off at least 120 city workers over the last six months.
Robles fears some Cook County merchants could suffer a similar fate.
“I think places like retail stores and gas stations are in more trouble,” Robles said. “It’s never easy, but some of them could be fighting for survival.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that the tax is expected to generate approximately $42 million over the first three months and just over $200 million in one year.