Head Chef and Chief Economist


nothing minimum about this!

Daniel Patterson is the chef and co-owner of Coi, a restaurant that San Franscisco foodies love to love. He's opening a new place in Oakland. In an otherwise non-political interview about his new joint, he hashes out what it's like to run a restaurant in the ultra-regulated city by the bay and explains how S.F. city supervisors are ruining the upscale neighborhood restaurant.

SFoodie: Would you ever open a restaurant like Coi in Oakland?
Patterson: It would be hard to open a restaurant like Coi in San Francisco today. When Coi's gone I would be really surprised to see another one like it.

Because the economics of fine dining don't make sense anymore?
I'm sure Thomas Keller could always make it work here. I have 10 people in the kitchen, about a one-to-two ratio of staff to diners. San Francisco has become a very difficult place to have any restaurant, because of the policies that the Board of Supervisors put in place. They didn't anticipate what would happen with things like the minimum wage increases, with no tip credit. What happens when the minimum wage is $12? Or $15? Product costs keep rising, especially for things like pastured meats and organic vegetables. Rents are still pretty steep. The restaurant model that we all knew no longer exists—the Supervisors took it and crumpled it into a little ball.

For us [at Coi], we're a little bit more protected. I can't complain—we've done fine all through the downturn. I've been so grateful and a little bit surprised at how strong the local support has been. But I'm more concerned about neighborhood places, which are the heart and soul of our dining scene. What happens when they all have to charge $30 for a chicken dish? Can they all afford to keep using the best ingredients? Or to have enough staff? There's going to have to be a fundamental rethinking of how restaurants in San Francisco are run. In the meantime, we're operating in a no-man's-land, and I don't see a clear path out of it.

Via Jason Gollan.

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  1. Better news out of San Francisco

    EPA Whistleblowers Try to Derail Waxman-Markey

    A married couple, both EPA attorneys in San Francisco, have caused a brouhaha in Washington by posting a ten-minute YouTube video criticizing the Waxman-Markey effort at cap-and-trade.

    In “The Huge Mistake,” Alan Zabel and Laurie Williams ? who each have 20 years of experience in EPA’s San Francisco regional office ? argue in clear, unemotional terms that cap-and-trade will simply turn into a boondoggle for phony “emissions credits,” which don’t accomplish anything except making energy more expensive.

    Zabel and Williams cite one instance in Europe where manufacturers of a refrigerant had a by-product that was deemed a greenhouse gas more harmful than carbon dioxide. Rather than simply capturing and destroying it, a fairly easy process, they began selling its destruction to utilities as an emissions credit. Soon profits from selling the credits were double the profits of making the refrigerant. Thanks to that perverse incentivize, they began to manufacture more refrigerant just to sell its by-product. Although European regulators have spotted the scam, they have found it impossible to change anything because of pressure from the manufacturers and their home countries. The overall result: increased carbon emissions plus a lot of flimflam that ends up punishing consumers:

    1. Needless to say, the EPA was not happy and immediately ordered the couple to take the video off their own website. But Steven Kirsch, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is touting novel approaches to climate change, put it back up on YouTube, where by this afternoon it had received 2,800 views. “The Huge Mistake” could eventually throw a log in front of the Waxman-Markey/Kerry-Boxer steamroller ? although it may cost Zabel and Williams their jobs, as well.

  2. Ha! Those stupid supervisors never thought of the pastured meats, did they?

  3. Fuckin’ board of stupidvisors. You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger group of retarded ass clowns anywhere, at least outside of DC.

    1. Try Seattle and / or King County (one and the same, more or less, at least as far as stupidity is concerned).

      1. Try Santa Cruz, CA. The arrogance that the local Board of Supervisors shows is legendary. They bow to the childish requests the UCSC makes every year, yet they make it [almost] impossible to start a little business that may bring more money to the County.

    2. Portland, OR is nearly as anti-business as SF is.

    3. Portland, OR is nearly as anti-business as SF is.

  4. Boycott in 3… 2…

    1. Hey Patterson! You’re so fine, you blow…um….something!

  5. He could save on labor by having the customers make their own drinks – like at fast food places. Honor bar kind of thing. Bartenders are a waste of money anyway.

  6. Nice restaurant you have here, Patterson.

  7. Funny this posts today. I watched Bourdain’s San Fran show last night. His overall point is that there were a good number of terrific restaurants in the city that not only went against the crunchy granola fruitcake reputation of San Fran, but were doing well.

    I fast forwarded past all the hippy shit they showed, but it was a good installment of No Reservations and pleasantly surprised me. I was really not looking forward to a lefty love-fest, which this episode was anything but. It was good to see that the domineering state in that area hadn’t yet crushed out the remaining bits of individuality and liberty left in that city.

    Not sure when they produced it, so maybe that’s all changed since then.

    I just draw the line at the mackerel spoo he ate. Otherwise, the food looked amazing, other than “Offal Night” at a friend’s place Bourdain showed. [shudder]

    1. That episode is at least a few months old. Or maybe I’m thinking of the “Oakland” episode where he spent half the time talking about SF.

      And while we’re talking about Bourdain, does it bother anyone but me that people think he’s libertarian. He’s not. He’s a typical lefty who doesn’t like when his ox (food) is gored. Kind of like NIMBY democrats who don’t want wind turbines in their backyards.

      1. No, this was definitely a SF episode. he did go to Oakland for a burrito.

        He comes off to me as a lefty with libertarian leanings. Far from earning his decoder ring. Also, not a reason to not enjoy his show.

        Besides, if you see enough oxes gored enough times, there might be hope for you in seeing the light. Muggings, audits, liberals, conservatives and all that.

      2. … Does it bother anyone but me that people think he’s libertarian. He’s not.

        What bothers me is his hypocrisy. On one episode, he was invited to Ted Nugent’s estate, where he had what appeared to be a great time, shooting rifles and guns inside Ted’s property. Bourdain commented that he was against gun ownership but that he would “allow” Ted to have them since he was clearly such a nice guy.

        So, for Bourdain, people deserve to have rights as long as they are likable. THAT bothered me. Yes, Ted is a GREAT guy, but he does not deserve to keep and bear arms just because he’s a nice guy, but because he is a rational, free individual.

        1. Speaking only for myself, I don’t watch No Reservations for his politics and gratefully, Bourdain rarely drifts off into politics. If all I did was watch shows that pimped libertarianism, or even came close to that, my viewing options would be limited to…what? Stossel and Napolitano?

          It’s all about the food and snark, baby.

          1. Cavuto
            Hey guys! Don’t forget me

        2. Many nominally lefty, progressive people are like that. They just aren’t serious about their professed politics. It’s a fashion accessory.

          My sister is a militant vegetarian in her own social clique. Get her back at Aunt Peggy’s for Christmas dinner, and she’ll cave in ten minutes and eat turkey, just like everyone else.

          For most of them it’s really just about fitting in and being “cool” with all the other hipsters adopting a leftish pose for the sake of public consumption.

          So, when they are in a different social clique – they just change their stance to fit in there. Hanging out around gun owners? Suddenly the anti-gun stance is softened, and an excuse must be confabulated to justify it.

          1. Indeed, for MOST people (although maybe it’s more the lefties) politics is about cost-free signaling rather than adherence to principles. As soon as a cost is imposed – Ted Nugent might shoot me, I’ll miss out on the delicious Christmas turkey – people switch to a different frequency.

        3. I love Bourdain’s show. That said, he’s definitely a lefty, not a libertarian:

          1. He accepts Ted Nugent’s guns because Nugent has them. If Bourdain had the guns and Nugent wanted them, probably a different answer.

          2. If someone on another episode needed guns for personal protection in, say, Baltimore or Chicago, would he support their rights? He’s the typical lefty who thinks guns are OK if limited to hunting one’s own food.

          3. He correctly supports the Chicago chefs’ fight against the anti-foie gras “forces of evil” but sees no irony in the chefs (almost certainly) voting 100-to-1 in favor of the party that provided the “evil” aldermen.

          4. He thinks the Peoples’ Republic of Portland is a libertarian city. Anything but. Lefties think libertarianism means freedom from consequences.

  8. Ah, nostalgia. I’m from Oakland, and the perfectly San Franciscan, “What the fuck are you going to feed those monkeys? No, really. NO REALLY,” shape of that inteview totally brings me back. To wanting to kill whitey.

    1. I realize that even though you’ve moved from Oakland you’re still bitter, but never forget, there is one thing Oakland has that Ess Eff never will – a breathtaking view of the San Francisco skyline.

      1. Oakland is San Francisco’s Newark. But not as nice as New York’s.

      2. Summer, too.

  9. San Francisco and California as a whole is done. It’s the next Detroit/Michigan. Last one out turn off the lights.

    Besides, the hills are too steep to walk!

    1. But the rest of the country will be asked to bail them out.

      New motto for the California State flag – Got a quarter? Got a quarter? Got a quarter?

      1. California’s state quarter should’ve said, “Please return to the state of California.”

        You know, shouldn’t we have a Food Czar, to go with all the other czars? Someone like Alton Brown, maybe.

        1. Alton’s too smart, too savvy to fall for that shtick, right? RIGHT?

          Besides, Guy Fieri, Food Czar has a nice ring to it.

          1. Well, I guess it depends on the tenor the administration wants to set. If it’s an educational food-preparation spokesman, then Brown’s your man. If it’s something else, well, there are any number of alternatives. Given the quality of this administration’s picks so far, I’d assume they’d go with Rachel Ray.

            1. Not the Bobby Flay?

              You can see it, he wants to rule without mercy. It’s in his eyes.

              1. Nah, nobody likes Flay. If we want grumpy, we’ll go with Bourdain.

      2. Yeah they can ASK.

    2. The whole City of SF is your treadmill. It’s good for ya!

  10. Seems like a simple solution to the “no tip credit” minimum wage:
    pay the staff a salary commensurate with their productivity and put up a big sign in the restaurant “Absolutely No Tipping Allowed.”

    1. I was in a major city’s convention center. I went to tip the coat check person and they said they were prohibited from accepting tips adding that two city employees were fired for acceting tips.

      All I could think of was that the SCOTUS ruled that money is speech and this city had abridged mine.

      1. yeah, you are right. Say “No Tipping Required; we pay free market wages to our Serving Staff.”

    2. Someone’s never been to a restaurant in Paris. Or a McDonalds, for that matter.

  11. I do not know how it is in other states (I only have Texas to compare it with), but in California people are obsessed with the idea of “buying local”; local produce, local knick knacks, locally made food, you name it. It is like living in 18th Century England, waiting for an Adam Smith to set the record straight on this form of autarky.

    1. Except in California it’s possible to buy local without feeling any strain. The state has to most varied agriculture in the world. If you want it, we grow or raise it.

      1. [citation needed]

    2. Californians also like artisanally-made, fair trade goods from around the world. I don’t think it has reached the point that anyone is willing to acknowledge that the two preferences clash.

  12. You don’t have shit for corn on the cob, Pushkin.

    1. And the spinich they raise has e-coli in it.


    after the charges of “RACISM!!!” coming down from on high in the liberal world. I wonder if this will spark a terrible outrage from the same quarters…i imagine not.

    1. “Two L.A. Unified School District leaders plan to hold a news conference this morning with community groups to debunk a Spanish-language flier claiming illegal-immigrant parents who sign a petition calling for a charter school will be deported.”

      But they should be deported. What’s your fucking point?

      1. does not sound very progressive to me.

  14. “That was my Alton Brown saucepot! I use it to make my Balsamic Reduction! Dammit! You’ve seen me do it!”

    1. You know you’ve hit the big time when you get cited in popular culture. I surprised he hasn’t been on The Simpsons yet.

  15. Yes, in about one month, there will be no restaurants in San Franciso.

  16. Of course Alan, this can all be demonstrated on graph paper. See, as the cost of labor rises, the demand goes down, so of course in a month there will be no restaurants in San Francisco. Its EKON 101 I tell’s ya!

    Oh, and dissenters will be in labor camps in Oakland.

  17. I work in SF and live in Oakland. I appreciate Patterson’s comments about neighborhood places being the “heart and soul of (the) dining scene.” Because they really are. The way upscale places do me no good at all. I can’t afford them and neither can most of us around here.

    1. You have my condolonces re: the Raiders.

      1. No need, since I don’t care one whit about sports. But thank you for the thought.

      2. And the A’s. And Jerry Brown. And ghost ridin’ tha whip.

  18. Jerry Brown is the former mayor. Condole the whole state for him, because he is now our Attorney General and running for governor again.

    Condole Oakland for Ron Dellums, possibly the worst mayor of all time. And a variety of things like its murder rate, overall violent crime rate, poverty rate…honestly, sports teams are at the bottom of the list.

  19. You know, shouldn’t we have a Food Czar, to go with all the other czars?


  20. Patterson: “But I’m more concerned about neighborhood places, which are the heart and soul of our dining scene. What happens when they all have to charge $30 for a chicken dish? Can they all afford to keep using the best ingredients?”

    In industry, this is known as gold-plating.

    Maybe they could charge less by using very good ingredients, good enough that the customer won’t know the difference. If their egos don’t get in the way. Maybe.

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