Appalling: “Supervisors move to ban workplace cafeterias”

“Two city legislators on Tuesday are expected to announce legislation banning on-site workplace cafeterias in an effort to promote and support local restaurants.” The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, embracing the role of villains in an Ayn Rand novel, are backing the measure, sponsored by San Francisco supervisors Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin. The bill would be prospective only, so that while the famed in-house dining options at tech headquarters like Twitter’s could continue, new corporate arrivals would not be allowed to start anything similar. [Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, San Francisco Examiner]

11 Comments

  • My company has their own parking lot for the employees. A few years ago two proposals were brought up at the City Counsel meeting. One was to charge the company the amount that the City made from the tax on parking. Say it cost $20.00 per day for parking, the charge would be $8.00 per space per day. The other proposal was to consider the cost of parking as income and add it to the employee’s taxable income as far as the City’s income tax was concerned. Neither proposal went through. What got me was that the proposals were not thrown out, it was that they couldn’t reach an agreement on which proposal to accept. Depending on which proposal was passed the money would go to different accounts and spent on different programs.

    • And if a company tries an “out of the box” solution, like employee buses to reduce congestion, pollution, and the need for land for parking, they’ll throw stones and shoot at the buses! You can’t win with these people.

      My theory is they just don’t like that some people appear to be prospering more than they are.

  • Sean Crist writes via social media (reprinted with his permission):

    This reminds me of something that happened when I was in grad school at the University of Pennsylvania back in the 1990s. For as long as anyone could remember, there had always been dozens of food trucks on the streets around campus. I remember that a consulting company found that 40% of the members of the campus community purchased at least one meal a day from the food trucks.

    Well, then the University gave a food vending contract to a company called Bon Appetit. Bon Appetit didn’t want the competition, so the University asked the Philadelphia city council to pass a law banning the food trucks. The students erupted in protest (I was one of the organizers).

    The University had a further complication: Philadelphia Mayor John Street had a brother Earl Street who owned one of the food trucks, and Mayor Street wasn’t going to let a law pass if it put his brother out of business.

    Well, those of us in Williams Hall got a memo late one Friday that the side handicapped entrance was going to be closed over the weekend. When we all got back on Monday, a small garden had been razed and converted into a food booth for Earl Street. It sat beside the sidewalk, but just inside the University’s property line. As the largest land owner in West Philadelphia, the University had the right to lease its property to whoever it chose, and it chose to lease that small plot to Earl Street so that he wasn’t on the public sidewalk and wouldn’t be affected by the ban.

    The ban went through despite a great amount of political organizing by the students. Many dozens of small-scale entrepreneurs were put out of business, including many first-generation immigrants.

    I loved my professors at U Penn, but I have never donated to the institution. Each time their fundraising department has phoned me over the past 20 years, I’ve reminded them why.

  • Well, the solution will be obvious to the affected employees. Instead of being “nudged” to eat out at over priced restaurants, with the associated wasted time, employees will simply bring their lunches to work en mass.

    Nothing shows the entitlement attitude more that “…depriving nearby restaurants of the dollars usually spent by nearby workers.”

    Depriving – yeah, like that business is their right? Seriously?

    “Mountain View,… in an effort to encourage employees to engage with the community and local businesses, the San Francisco Chronicle has reported.”

    “…depriving them the pleasure of mingling with the rest of The City.”

    “People will have to go out and eat lunch with the rest of us,” he said. ”

    To heck with you Mr. Peskin. If people WANTED to “mingle with the rest of the city” they would do so of their own volition. And no, they will NOT have to eat lunch with the rest of you. It’s called a microwave and a lunch room. Of course, then they’ll try to ban bringing your own lunch.

    • Nearly everyone at my business is Jewish and we maintain a small kosher break room. Everyone brings in their own food. The City would have a hard time pushing back against a people that claim a religious need for a private kitchen (of course the SF liberals hate Jews, so maybe they’d double down).

      Our office is in Sunnyvale and so far, they haven’t regulated us to death, although they try (they had plastic bag bans before the State did, and $15.00 minimum wage, and I can’t have a gun magazine that holds more than 7 rounds, etc.)

  • The purpose of a company cafeteria is NOT just as a fringe benefit. It saves people time since they don’t have to go far to eat, and allows people to mingle who otherwise would be busy in their offices. It also accommodates people who bring their own lunch. This legislation goes way beyond what gov has any business meddling in.

    • Note – you assume the company is paying for the food. Not all companies are like this. At large corporate Seattle aerospace, there are cafeteria’s all over the place. Employees who choose to patronize these pay full price. That said, I believe there are elements in the contract with the operator where they have to keep the prices down. A typical baked chicken quarter, spuds and veggie (all lunch sized portions) is on the order of $8.

      Of course, the Seattle aerospace cafeteria operators have a captive market as, quite frankly, an assembly line worker wouldn’t be physically able to go out to lunch in the 1/2 hr to 40 minutes allotted for their lunch break – some of the factory buildings are so large, you could barely round trip from your work location to the parking lot and back in the allotted lunch break, while there are cafeterias throughout the assembly buildings. Same for the engineering, finance, etc on the campus – its simply impractical to go out to lunch for many Seattle area sites.

      A bit of history as well – it would appear that many company cafeterias were instituted during the war to insure that war workers would be properly fed, given civilian food rationing and the demands for OT to support war production. There are many old propaganda films on you tube about proper nutrition on a war rationed diet, eat-properly-for-victory, etc. Many make reference to the importance of the company canteen for victory.

  • “Peskin said the legislation sought to avoid the ‘Amazon effect that impacts retail and restaurants across the county,’ he said. ‘This is forward thinking legislation.’”

    Glorious.

  • First they came for the cafeterias
    And I did not speak out
    Because I did not eat at cafeterias
    Then they came for the bag lunches…

  • Businesses that cannot compete on a level playing field look to government to tilt the field.

  • Problem solved: work from home… telework puts another 1 in the win column… 😀

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