Shack Shack fans in North Carolina may be waiting a long time for the cult favorite burgers to come to the state.
Famed restaurateur and Shack Shack founder Danny Meyer says North Carolina's controversial "Bathroom Bill" would keep him from doing business in the Tar Heel state.
"One of the things small businesses have the opportunity to do is to take a stand," Meyer told CNBC. "I think where you go to work and how you feel about your job and whether your job aligns with your values makes a big difference. … I would love to do business in places and bring our products to places that feel welcoming to all people."
Signed into law in late March, House Bill 2 established a statewide anti-discrimination policy that excludes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Its most controversial provision maintains that in schools and government buildings, transgender people must use the restroom that correlates with the gender on their birth certificates, though private sector businesses can institute their own policies.
Shake Shack and Meyer's restaurant group do not currently operate in the state.
Many corporations and chief executives including Tim Cook of Apple have joined the fight against the new law.
Meyer spoke at a Small Business Town Hall event hosted by Capital One Spark Business in New York City on Thursday night. The chief executive of the Union Square Hospitality Group sparked national conversation when he decided to do away with tipping at his 13 full-service venues as a way to "compensate all of our employees equitably, competitively and professionally," Meyer wrote in an October 2015 letter. Since then, major strides have been made on the wage front, including deals in California and New York to raise the statewide minimum wages to $15 an hour, well above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.
"I think it's ludicrous we are willing to pay $15 or whatever the minimum wage is to a certain class, but if you are in a tipped class you get dramatically less money," Meyer said. "There's just nothing more important than having a level playing field where all businesses pay people what they're worth and recognize it does cost money to live here — it's kind of hard to love your job if you can't afford an apartment."
While wages are a key issue in the presidential race, Meyer declined to endorse a presidential candidate, saying only that "ingenuity and innovation should be championed" and "it should be easier to start a business."
Meyer added many business owners are struggling with soaring rents in New York City. About 21 percent of business owners in New York say rent is a challenge, according to research from Capital One. Soaring rent is an issue Meyer faced first hand. He moved out of his famous Union Square location in December after more than 30 years in business due to exorbitant rents. He relocated to Park Avenue South and East 19th street this spring.
Meyer told CNBC he "loves" the fast-casual Mexican chain.