Pizzeria owner, other Minnesotans invited to State of the Union speech


President Obama is expected to mention St. Paul-based Punch Pizza during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

Punch Pizza founder and co-owner John Soranno and employee Nick Chute will be guests of First Lady Michelle Obama during the speech in the U.S. Capitol, WCCO reports. They'll sit near her in the balcony of the House chambers, the Pioneer Press reports.

Co-owner John Puckett said he thought it was a joke when he got a message last week from the White House, the newspaper reported.

Obama planned to single out the pizzeria as part of his effort to goad Congress into raising the federal minimum wage for workers from $7.25 to $10.10. Punch in December announced it had raised its own minimum wage to $10/hour for employees at its eight Twin Cities locations.

“As we continue to grow Punch we recognize that only the most dedicated employees will position us to compete and maintain the highest quality food and the best service in the market," Sorrano said.

Punch posted this to Facebook:

Post by Punch Neapolitan Pizza.

The Star Tribune has a complete list of 10 other Minnesotans invited by members of the state's congressional delegation, including Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges (invited by Rep. Keith Ellison), St. Cloud physician Dr. Julie Anderson (invited by Rep. Michele Bachmann) and Vednita Carter, founder and executive director of Breaking Free, a St. Paul-based organization that helps women escape prostitution (invited by Rep. Erik Paulsen).

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