Underground Restaurants Are Cool—And Driven by Insane Fees and Regulations

RestaurantBSH LtdYesterday, Scott Shackford wrote about the phenomenon of underground dinner parties which charge a fee for admittance—they're basically unlicensed restaurants. Mainstream journalists being what they are, which is to say, capable of sounding like they're just visiting from a world entirely unlike our own, New York City's CBS affiliate reported on the phenomenon with breathless alarm, troubled that such popular experiences take place beyond the long reach of regulators and others control freaks. But as it turns out, that's one of the attractions, for both customers seeking a thrill, and proprietors who find licensing and permitting requirements crippling and unaffordable.

As CBS put it:

When asked if the underground restaurants should be regulated, Lubarsky told [CBS 2 investigative reporter Tamara Leitner] Leitner, “Yes, they should be regulated by the same system that regulates every restaurant in New York City.”

The Health Department refused to discuss the issue on camera but in a statement told CBS 2: “In New York City, people who offer meals to the public for money are considered food service establishments and need permits. The city does not allow meals to be served to members of the public in someone’s home.”

But underground restaurants have been a "thing" for years. They started largely out of necessity because aspiring restaurateurs just couldn't navigate or afford the unbelievably burdensome process of opening restaurants legally. Not surprisingly, underground restaurants are a big deal in lower-income ethnic communities where coughing up outrageous sums to open a low-margin eatery is challenging at best. But they've also become mainstream in areas where regulations are heavy and pricey.

Reporting on the growing phenomenon in California in 2005, Ella Lawrence in San Jose's MetroActive quoted underground restaurateurs on exactly that point.

"It costs $200,000 just for a permit to be allowed to buy water from the city!" exclaims Hale. "You have to get tons of permits from various people. You've got to get a building permit, a permit if you want to remodel, you have to get licenses for beer and wine, and you have to get certified by the Health Board."

Hale was operating in Healdsburg, a small town north of San Francisco.

So underground restaurants came from necessity, but as creative aspiring chefs do their best to make the black market operations attractive, they've acquired a patina of cool.

As part of their forecast of restaurant trends for 2009 (PDF), Joseph Baum and Michael Whiteman, the restaurant consultants behind Windows on the World, predicted that black-market establishments would thrive, at least partially because of diners' desire to "stick it to the man" by "patronizing entrepreneurs who have no health department license, pay no taxes, insurance or social security..."

How New York City's restaurant regulations compare to those of Healdsburg, I don't know (though New York Enterprise Report does comment, "the terrorists have infiltrated our city and are employed at the department of health"). But I do know that the city's regulatory apparatus is so complex that people often hire "expediters" to make sure all requirements are met—and the right palms are greased (PDF). The system is widely considered too difficult for people to navigate on their own.

No wonder aspiring restaurateurs would rather run underground businesses than "legitimate" operations.

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  • np||

    Sorry to hijack JD
    in light of http://www.theguardian.com/tec.....rveillance
    "When you lose and you don't comply, it's treason," said Mayer. "We think it make more sense to work within the system," she said.

    here's one way to try to subvert it:
    http://www.rsync.net/resources/notices/canary.txt

  • sarcasmic||

    Freedom means asking permission and taking orders.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Freedom means being able to perpetually live the life of an upper-middle-class teenager. All food and shelter is provided for you at no charge, somebody else will be paying for your education, scary stuff is handled by authorities, and your primary care is who you're screwing.

  • Doctor Whom||

    The experience of an upper-middle-class teenager is the universal human experience, or so progressive political philosphy presupposes.

  • John||

    So when they go after underground restaurants, what do you want to bet they hit church potluck and private dinner parties? What constitutes an "underground restaurant"? If you guest brings a bottle of wine? Desert? Chips in some money to cover the costs?

    Good luck with that.

  • sarcasmic||

    What constitutes an "underground restaurant"?

    Money being exchanged between strangers without protection money being paid to the local gang of thugs.

  • ||

    Ay Gino! You eat dat filet mignon widout payin up an I break ya legs.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Remember: It's not at all like the Mafia, because democracy makes everything OK.

  • lelnet||

    No, it's not like the Mafia.

    You see, if the Mafia demands money from you, and you give them the money, they're pretty reliable about _not_ busting up your home, your business, and/or your head.

    Government is _totally_ different than that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Fuck you, pay me.

  • John||

    Who is a stranger? How do I know that you don't know the guy? Again, these rules will make a lot of people criminals but few of them will actually be running underground restaurants.

  • sarcasmic||

    When you have a dinner party do you ask your guests for money?

    That's the difference between a dinner party and an underground restaurant: money.

    And that's what angers people in government: money is changing hands without the government getting a cut.

  • Cyto||

    When you have a dinner party do you ask your guests for money?

    Actually, when I was in college this was de rigueur. We'd cook up a huge batch of spaghetti or tacos and everyone would chip in a few bucks to cover the costs. We usually had about 30-40 for dinner on game days.

    So not only was this bigger than the offenders in NYC, we did it once a week during football season and sometimes more often during basketball season.

    I suppose we'd be lucky not to get SWAT attention these days....

  • rhofulster||

    I was just wondering if the NYC health department had a SWAT team.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    these rules will make a lot of people criminals but few of them will actually be running underground restaurants.

    That's a feature, not a bug. People should be banned from gathering into a group unless the specific form of group has been state-approved. Otherwise, you run the risk of people conspiring against the State.

  • sarcasmic||

    Freedom means asking permission and taking orders.

    You're free to gather as a group, provided you asked permission first and then follow the instructions of your masters.

    See how free we are?

  • ||

    Look, someone is making some money somewhere, and they have to look into how they can get some of it.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Geeze 2chili, don't you understand that only restaurants licensed by the state are safe to eat in? The local breakfast place has all the proper permits and licenses.
    http://www.presstelegram.com/b.....ecame-sick

  • AlmightyJB||

    Have you ever watched any of Gorden Ramseys shows. Some of these "regulated" kitchens haven't been cleaned for years. Not to mention food storage procedures that violate pure common sense much less fda recommendations.

  • ||

    Health inspections are such a waste of time. When I worked at a restaurant I was put in charge of touring the inspector around. He found enough stuff that we should've been shut down but he liked us so he gave us a month to clean up with a list of our violations and came back after we'd had time to do a deep clean.

    The location was later taken over by a Pakistani couple, who owned several other locations in the area and the wife mentioned that if they'd had half of the stuff out of code that my boss did they would've been shut down immediately.

    The whole process is bullshit trading favors.

  • SKR||

    and even if the place is spotless and yo are preparing stuff safely, they can get you with the rules that contradict the other rules. If you are making stock and have it chilling in the walk-in they can ding you for not having it covered. If you have it covered they can ding you for not chilling it fast enough because the cover keeps in the heat. It is soooo easy to get your ass handed to you if you piss off the inspector.

  • sarcasmic||

    It boggles my mind that people fail to see the connection between our shitty economy and all the hoops one must go through before legally engaging in economic activity.
    Then they want government to fix it with more legislation and regulation!

    We're doomed. That's all there is to it. Doomed.

  • ||

    Regulations do not stifle the economy, they stimulate it.

    http://hotair.com/archives/201.....ling-jobs/

    See? I dont really know the details though, you will have to ask Tony or Shriek.

  • DH||

    Remember dude, they're in government positions for a reason, cause they're you're betters. If you just listen to them it will all be A-Ok and such.

  • ||

    Look, it's spending, and it's creating jobs for paper pushers and bureaucrats. Good, middle-class, job with good benefits. Why do you hate the middle class?

  • Drake||

    So the restaurant industry is driven by insane regulations and fees - how is that different than any other industry?

    I'm convinced that the American economy is only operating under momentum at this point. People like me get up and go to work only out of habit. The highest corporate taxes in the world and possibly the worst (and most layered) regulatory environment in the world.

    Without a big change, the U.S. will be a Third World economic catastrophe in a generation.

  • sarcasmic||

    Without a big change, the U.S. will be a Third World economic catastrophe in a generation.

    That's the plan. Shared poverty is romantic.

  • Invisible Finger||

    As long as TOP. MEN. don't suffer they are fine with it.

  • Bam!||

    possibly the worst (and most layered) regulatory environment in the world.

    Nope. And that's why America keeps going: Virtually everyone else is worse.

    I remember when Top Gear UK did a special in Italy and got pulled over because the police wanted to make sure they had the permit that allowed them to work on Sunday.

  • sarcasmic||

    Nope. And that's why America keeps going: Virtually everyone else is worse.

    Only because they have been accumulating laws longer than we have. It's only a matter of time.

  • ||

    Seriously.

    People are pretty fucking good at figuing out how to support themsleves IF YOU FUCKING LET THEM.

    The problem is the government attempting to shoehorn everyone into this corporate-socialist structure where everyone is a unionized employee of a state sanctioned corporate monopoly or oligopoly.

  • creech||

    We can't have people getting food poisoning and going to the hospital where I'll end up paying the tab, can we? No free riders! And let's ban cookouts - who knows what insect-carried disease will result in me having to pay for someone's mosquito bite? When it comes to health care, we can't have free riders. That's only for every other government program where our sense of compassion forces us to force you to provide for the unlucky and the lazy.

  • DH||

    I was gonna offer you some of my hot dog. But if you're gonna be that way, never mind.

  • SugarFree||

    Food trucks are also a response to the over-regulation of resturants. I've gotten to know most of the people running the ones in town and all of them say they would have rather opened a brick-and-mortar, but the permits and fees were outrageous. It's not cheap to get a food truck up and running, so imagine how much worse it must be to have a storefront.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I know some caterers who don't have restaurants for the same reason. At least in part--one must acknowledge that the restaurant business is a tough one to be successful in over the long term.

  • sarcasmic||

    Something like 90% of restaurants fail in their first year, and if they do survive the profit margin is very slim.

    Add in all the fees and permits and regulations, and it's just not worth the risk.

  • SugarFree||

    Agreed, but excessive fees and regulations only make them less successful in the long run.

    Tulpa and SIV like to make fun of Reason's focus on food trucks, but it really is a fine and easy-to-understand case study in regulutory burden killing businesses.

  • SugarFree||

    me spel 1 day

  • Libertymike||

    Well, don't you like to make fun of Tulpa's cognitive dissonance?

  • SugarFree||

    There's a thin line between cognitive dissonance and stupidity. Long ago Tulpa vaulted over that line, tumbled down a steep hill into a shallow, filthy creek and then began humping mud while fingering his own asshole.

  • tarran||

    It's the last clause of your sentence that differentiates you from the unwashed vulgar masses that comment here, Sugarfree.

  • SugarFree||

    I do pride myself on being a hygienic vulgar mass.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Yes, SaccharineMan is truly gifted in the written word.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, sure, I was thinking that as I typed. The regulatory burden--state, local, federal--must be immense.

  • SugarFree||

    My favorite food truck in town is run by caterers. They rarely have the same menu twice and it is always themed in some way.

    They made a buttermilk sous-vide, then fried chicken thigh bánh mì with spicy-pickled shredded carrots and sriracha-blended butter that was so good. Super-nice guys, constant food experimentation, and they are usually in the parking lot of my favorite micro-brewery either Friday or Saturday night. Woot!

  • Raston Bot||

    That's how it should work. I'm envious. My city will probably eventually pass food truck regs that force the menu to be pre-approved by the Health Dept and remain static for months preventing experimentation.

  • playa manhattan||

    Instant food boner.

  • ||

    God damn that sounds tasty. I'm now hungry for lunch at 9am and am burnt out on local eating options. Thank you for making my day a little longer.

  • SugarFree||

    My food porn is actually the most offensive writing I indulge in.

  • John||

    That is not the whole thing. Regulations aside, isn't a food truck cheaper than renting a space? Also, running a food truck allows you to specialize and limit your menu in a way that is pretty hard in a brick and mortar restaurant. If you are not a trained chef but have grandma's taco recipe, a food truck is a really good way to go in business. So even if there were no regulations, there would still be food trucks.

  • SugarFree||

    Agreed, but so many of them say they they would have rather started a regular restaurant. Anecdotes, sure, but I bet it's more than the food truck haters (or lovers) want to admit. And a number of the successful ones here have closed their trucks and moved into BnM.

  • John||

    For sure. I am quite sure that some of them are started in lieu of regular restaurants.

  • SugarFree||

    Sadly, even though they both have a truck and a BnM, my favorite taco truck only serves beef cheeks at their sit-down restaurant now.

    Hmm... Beef cheeks... So beefy...

  • Pro Libertate||

    My brother and I used to joke about having a mobile food truck business. Meaning food trucks running up and down the highway, supplying meals on the move. We had a few ideas about how to deliver the food--either allowing cars to drive into some sort of bay or some other system for getting the meal to the consumer. Payment would probably need to be wireless of some sort, or dialed in through the web.

  • SIV||

    And a number of the successful ones here have closed their trucks and moved into BnM.

    Now they can lobby for restrictive regulations for food trucks along with their other BnM brethren.

  • Raston Bot||

    Food trucks are still prohibited from operating in my town. Lady lives up the street from me owns a truck and has to drive it to the next county to operate. Fucking absurd.

    My neighbor works in the city zoning dept. They were crafting plans to allow food carts in front of city hall. The regs were hilariously specific to exactly how many carts serving what kind of food. After the regs were released, maybe one cart applied for a license. I suggested just opening it up and letting consumers decide what kinds of food would sell profitably. You know, human action type solution. Sure, you'd get 10 carts the first month and it might feel crowded but then you'd get 5 carts, and then maybe only 2 but they'd be profitable and sell good food. The silence was deafening.

  • SugarFree||

    They've gone back and forth. Currently they are only allowed on commercial private property if the owner consents (as is right and proper, SLD) but they are trying to that to every business within 250 feet have to agree to them operate.

    There is a tiny patch of downtown public space where they can operate, but the restrictions are so onerous and the windows they can set up in so narrow, few bother with it.

  • ||

    The silence was deafening.

    Well, of course.
    You suggested that the free market might work better than government management. That's like verboten, you idiot. NEVER say such things in progressive company. They will stare at you like an alien.

  • ||

    Several of the most succesfull food trucks here in Houston have opened or are planning open B&M shops. They used the food truck to build up the capital. One even opened a brewery.

    The regulations still exist but are pretty lax compared to what I read about in these stories. The one big restriction is that they are pretty much banned in downtown, which means I can't get it for lunch, but no one gives a fuck about downtown Houston outside the work day.

    Our local watering hole has a daily schedule of trucks on their website and they will update on twitter if there are any substitutions. It's pretty nice to be able to just walk over and get a variety of food.

  • Ron||

    More proof that the more regulations you put in place just creates more criminals out of honest people and once an honest person no longer has a choice then they obey even fewer laws especially when most laws are no longer based on a moral purpose. You know the saying in for a dime in for a dollar and since many times the fine is less than the cost of compliance anyway.

  • sarcasmic||

    Restaurant workers fired after Facebook post that called Native Americans bad tippers went viral

    The post included a photo of Andrea Casson, a worker at Famous Dave's in Bismarck, North Dakota
    Girl was holding a sign complaining about her tips during a Native American festival called Pow Wow last weekend
    The United Tribes International Pow Wow is an annual festival that attracts tens of thousands of Native Americans to the area

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....viral.html

    I can tell you as a former waiter that I have never received a tip from a Native American. Exact change every single time without exception.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    It would be interesting to know if this was broadly true of all people of Native American descent, or if it was only those who were so (probably self-righteously) into their Native American identity that you could tell without asking.

  • Floridian||

    The server is cute enough some man will cover her bills.

  • John||

    She will get another server job. There is always a place for a cute girl who is willing to work in a restaurant.

  • Floridian||

    You know cute girls are nice but there is a sushi restaurant here with great food and hot girls but the service is terrible. Is it too much to ask that the servers be competent first and if possible attractive second?

  • anon||

    Good service requires a modicum of empathy for your customers; in general, young hotties don't possess that.

  • John||

    Depends. Some do. The trick is they can't be too hot. They need to be attractive without being distractingly attractive or so good looking they have spent their whole lives getting by on their looks.

    And yeah, personality is key. There is nothing worse than a snotty hot server or bartender.

  • anon||

    Yup. Basically what you want is that "girl next door" look with a person that wasn't raised within 20 miles of a city with a population over 25,000.

  • John||

    My wife and I used to go to this pizza joint in Atlanta. There was a server there who looked almost like Angelina Jolie only less harsh looking and prettier. She was just stop traffic oh my God smoking hot. The kind of woman that even another woman standing next to her husband will acknowledge is really hot.

    She would stand at the counter near the phone and occasionally answer it. That is all we ever saw her do. She literally was paid to stand there and look hot.

  • anon||

    . She literally was paid to stand there and look hot.

    nttawwt

  • Libertymike||

    Me need 'em new buffalo skin for tepee.

  • ||

    What a crock of shit. Either they tip well or they dont. If she told the truth then there it is. If you dont like it pointed out that you are an asshole, then dont be an asshole.

    Every tuesday night my wife goes for drinks at Copeland's. I play designated driver. This has been going on for about 8 years. The wait staff knows me, know I tip very well so the service we get it excellent.

    I walk in, I sit down, and magically a cup of decaf cappiccino appears in front of me. If the machine isnt working then it is a cup of earl grey/mint tea. Our orders are taken promptly and food is served quickly. Any complaints are quickly addressed.

    They work hard and get paid peanuts. They depend on the tips so I make sure their time with our table is well spent.

    Famous Dave doesnt give a shit because he is making his money on the meal sales, but he should be standing behind his employees. Firing this girl should get Famous Dave's a boycott.

  • Floridian||

    Agreed. If Dave doesn't want the employees complaining about tips, then he should pay them directly and put a sign up saying tipping isn't necessary.

  • ||

    Wait. I dont want anyone reading my comment to misconstrue that and think that I am not an asshole.

  • From the Tundra||

    I wonder if the fact that Famous Dave is Ojibwe had anything to do with the decision.

  • CE||

    Any employee who publicly criticizes a customer should be fired on the spot. A tip is optional. Not tipping is a jerk move, but if you don't like working for tips, find a different line of work.

  • sgs||

    "Any employee who publicly criticizes a customer should be fired on the spot."

    This is why your employees would think you're an asshole.

    I worked for a guy in college who made it clear to the customers, you fuck with my employees and I boot your ass. They don't have to take your shit and won't.

    He was insanely busy, and encouraged us to tell him if someone stiffed us.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Yup. Asshole managers/owners usually have apathetic asshole servers. Not that outwardly rude or uncivil behavior should be tolerated, but employees who feel that the owners have their backs will work hard without compulsion.

  • ||

    I work at a restaurant, and I can tell you that the lower educated/class someone is, the less/none they'll tip. We happen to get some ghetto Hispanic and black customers where I work, and you'll be lucky to get a $1 tip on a $40 bill after busting your ass to get napkins, ranch, and whatever else they need. Not saying that all blacks and Hispanics don't tip, but the trashy ones definitely don't. It comes down to us servers practically fighting over who gets to serve the next white table.

  • Nazdrakke||

    Acknowledging reality is strictly forbidden in the restaurant industry.

  • Ron||

    I have Native American relatives and they do tip. the rest I can't account for.

  • John||

    Health inspectors are such a waste of time. Restaurants almost never get cited or closed, yet there are plenty of dirty restaurants out there. If a restaurant is dirty, it is because the owner is a lazy slug. A monkey can clean. I don't know anything about running a restaurant. But if I tried, my kitchen would be clean. I can't cook, but I can clean. If the owner is too lazy to clean, no amount of health inspections is going to get him to clean.

    If you are worried about a restaurant, go in the bathroom. The bathroom is the easiest thing to clean in a restaurant and it is something the customers will see. If they didn't clean that, they don't clean their kitchen.

  • sarcasmic||

    When I worked as a cook I was there when an inspector came. She dinged me because I used my hands to pick up my class of water to take a drink. The drink is supposed to be in a covered container with a straw, and you're supposed to bend down like a fucking bird to take a drink without touching anything with your hands. I wish I was making that up.

  • John||

    Cooking food without poisoning someone is really hard. I mean, come on, it is not like people do it at home all of the time or anything. You can't do that sort of thing without really elaborate rules made by top men.

  • Floridian||

    I get food poisoning once a week so I can build a tolerance like I did with iocaine.

  • Snark Plissken||

    Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

  • Floridian||

    I love that scene but always thought, how the hell is this a game of wits and not chance?

  • Nazdrakke||

    Let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Just yesterday I cooked an omelet. Eggs, cheese, and meat all at the same time. It's a miracle I didn't die from food poisoning.

  • anon||

    Doesn't most food poisoning come from improperly stored food anyways? I know I've never gotten "food poisoning" from eating my own food, and I've eaten countless meals with "undercooked" meats.

    However, hit Subway just -once- and it's instantly shitting your pants time.

  • sarcasmic||

    Never go to a Chinese buffet that's an hour drive from your house.

  • Ron||

    or like my parents, in their 70 to 80's like to do, they go to the Chinese buffet just before the dinner crowd. The problem is the food you get is what has been sitting under the lights since the lunch hour. I finally convinced my mother to go at 5:30 when they start to rotate in fresh food. Fresh being a relative term here.

  • John||

    Cooking tends to kill germs and fresh food tends not to be rotten. Who would have thought such a thing.

    And on top of that, food companies like to avoid poisoning their customers. So things like eggs very very rarely have any kind of bacteria.

    The most dangerous food you eat is fresh vegetables. You don't always cook them. And they are often covered with all kinds of ecoli and such they picked up from the fields.

    Eating local, fresh and organic (as in using shit for fertilizer) is a good way to end up in the hospital if you are not careful about how you wash your food.

  • anon||

    Cooking food without poisoning someone is really hard. I mean, come on, it is not like people do it at home all of the time or anything.

    I'm already imagining a future where your stove and oven detect what food you're cooking and keep cooking said food at a specified temperature for whatever period of time government regulations demand, making it impossible to make a good pot of chili.

  • sarcasmic||

    I imagine a future where everyone is given rations and a cook book. You eat what they tell you to eat, when they want you to eat it, prepared the way they want you to make it, under penalty of law.

    Did you know that the UK sends food police to inspect refrigerators and advise citizens of how to use leftovers?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ear.....olice.html

  • anon||

    Did you know that the UK sends food police to inspect refrigerators and advise citizens of how to use leftovers?

    Holy shit, I did not know that. That's not an onion link? What the fuck!?

  • Ron||

    Insane and I suppose since they are there they will be checking to make sure your knives don't have points on them. In case someone didn't know knives with points are illegal in the UK now also.

  • mr simple||

    Tim Burns, from Waste Watch - the contractor carrying out the scheme for WRAP - said: "Food waste has such a high impact on climate change and it is something we can all do something about."

    Seems legit.

  • Zeb||

    It's totally stupid and a joke. THe inspectors have to check off all the boxes on their list and that is all. The restaurant could be doing any number of unsanitary things, but if it's not on the list, it's OK.

  • sarcasmic||

    They also have to find violations, even when there are none, just so they feel empowered and important.

  • robc||

    The local score sheets show the last 3 scores/letters on the window.

    We got really confused when the local La Bamba had triple 100s.

    First time Ive ever seen that, and at a La Bamba.

    WTF?

  • sarcasmic||

    The owners must be politically connected.

  • JD the elder||

    A friend of mine used to work for a restaurant that was, practically speaking, a high-end stand in a public park. When the city started cracking down on restaurants after a few embarrassing incidents, the restaurant got dinged on their next inspection for cigarette butts on the ground. Outdoors. In a public park.

  • CE||

    You really want to empower the inspectors to cite people for MORE things?

  • tarran||

    If they didn't clean [the bathroom[, they don't clean their kitchen.

    Which is why the Boston Harborside Legal Sea Foods won't be getting any custom from me. Crummy service, stab my hat with a coat-hanger's hook, and count on the black tile hiding the scum and filth in your bathroom floor?

  • Drake||

    They wrecked your top hat?

  • tarran||

    It was the most durable fedora I have, and it wasn't wrecked; by some miracle the point did not penetrate deeply into the fabric.

  • ||

    I can't cook, but I can clean.

    Are you sure you aren't gay?

  • Snark Plissken||

    I started a restaurant in Prague. The regulations here are ridiculous compared to the US, separate rooms for cutting meat and veggies, employees must have a shower, etc, etc. Yet all the restaurants we looked at to buy were fucking filthy. All the restaurants I worked at in the States were squeaky clean.

  • John||

    Let me take a guess as to why that is. Cleaning is about work ethic. It takes no skill to clean. You just have to be willing to work hard doing it. So could it be that the restaurants in Prague are filthy because the effects of communism on the Czech work ethic? Just a far out guess. We have armies of central Americans untainted by communism to clean our restaurants.

  • Snark Plissken||

    Actually, Czechs have a pretty awesome work ethic when properly channeled. And we have armies of Ukrainians to do the dirty jobs that Czech don't want.

    No the point is that tons and tons of regulations solve nothing. Especially when mixed with corruption and lets face it, regulation and corruption go hand in glove.

    Czech restaurants were quite bad because of terrible management, mostly. I never gave managers much credit, but they are really essential. It's easy to hire workers but it's hard to find people who can manage those workers, very, very hard here.

  • John||

    The restaurant business is brutal.

  • Snark Plissken||

    Yeah, it eats people up and spits them out.

  • sarcasmic||

    I liked it for the ten plus years I was in it. One thing I miss is that every restaurant has at least one drug dealer. Not so much in the defense contractor industry.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "It costs $200,000 just for a permit to be allowed to buy water from the city!" exclaims Hale. "You have to get tons of permits from various people. You've got to get a building permit, a permit if you want to remodel, you have to get licenses for beer and wine, and you have to get certified by the Health Board."

    Last night, it was my great misfortune to overhear a conversation between two people about how the United States Government should bail out Detroit. Strangely enough, the plan did not include rounding up and executing everybody involved in issuing business permits.

  • CE||

    Make Detroit a tax free zone. It will soon be the financial center of the world and the wealthiest and safest city on the planet.

  • ||

    Fuck that. Make it a regulation-free zone with a flat 20% tax rate. Better.

  • Generic Stranger||

    20% is a bit high, unless that includes local and fed taxes.

  • ||

    OT:

    I see that our wonderful president is supplying arms through the CIA to the Syrian rebels. You know, these guys;

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worl.....t-24039309

    I am ok with that, as long as these are the arms they are supplying;

    http://www.freakingnews.com/Gu.....--1865.asp

  • DH||

    How about some "Assault Weapons"?

    http://imgur.com/r/POLITIC/FlSdn

  • Irish||

    Which is hilarious because Obama's political organization, Organizing for Action, attacked Mitt Romney last year for wanting to do the same thing.

    Link.

    OFA TruthTeam
    ‏@OFATruthTeam

    Romney called for U.S. to arm Syrian rebels without regard to where those weapons might end up.

    Thank God we elected Barack Obama. Sure his policies are largely the same as Romney's would have been, but we get to feel good about electing him because he's black instead of a creepy Mormon.

  • Jon Lester||

    In some cases, compliance invites harassment and abuse. I won't go into too much detail, but a couple years ago, in the small town I live nearest to, we finally got a good restaurant with a competent chef, but first the health department got ridiculous with him, then when he tried to have a private social club arrangement, he was harassed by the city, for reasons that had much more to do with the mayor's personal prejudices.

  • ||

    Now that BDSM is nearly mainstream the news needs some other envy-driven strawman to speak of in hushed tones and sell ad slots to CarMax. True, paying for the privilege of eating some forbidden cut of mysterious poultry may never match the depravity of having one's nads clamped and slapped, but as long as the Nielsen viewers are outraged that someone is having more fun than them, then the station has served the public trust...

  • Loki||

    Congrats, libtards! You've managed to create a black market for food. And you were able to do it without outright prohibiting it this time (unlike the 1920s with alcohol). I think that deserves a sarcastic slow clap.

    *slow clap*

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