San Francisco

Tech Workers Don't Eat at Enough Local Restaurants? Better Ban Workplace Cafeterias!

A bill in San Francisco would prohibit new office spaces from having cafeterias on site.

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Antoniodiaz/Dreamstime.com

San Francisco wants to ban workplace cafeterias. I'm serious.

On Tuesday, City Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safaí announced that they would be introducing legislation banning corporate campuses from maintaining cafeterias for their employees. The exact details are unclear as the bill's text is not yet available, but the San Francisco Examiner says that Peskin will be using local social engineers' favorite tool—the zoning code—to prohibit new "industrial kitchens" in commercial office buildings. Existing cafeterias would reportedly be grandfathered in.

To hear it from the sponsors, the point of the ban is to integrate San Francisco's reclusive tech workers into the hustle and bustle of city life. It's "about a cultural shift," Safaí tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "We don't want employees biking or driving into their office, staying there all day long and going home. This is about getting people out of their office, interacting with the community and adding to the vibrancy of the community."

But this isn't just a case of councilmen playing the pushy parent telling a kid to get out there and mingle. An element of protectionism is at work here too.

Many Bay City restaurants see corporate cafeterias as unbeatable competition for the lunchtime crowd. Forcing these workers back onto the streets in the middle of the day is supposed to increase their business.

"The historic model is that people would go to work, and then flow outside during lunch," Peskin tells the Chronicle. "The idea here is to bolster, not only the restaurant business, but other ground floor retail businesses that are suffering."

The Chronicle threw some shade on this idea in another article yesterday, pointing to other factors—market saturation, a lack of parking—that explain the tough times experienced by some San Francisco eateries. Nevertheless, the measure has earned the support of the city's restaurant association.

Incredibly, San Francisco is not the first city to pursue such a policy. In 2014, the Bay Area community of Mountain View—home to Google—prohibited employers from fully subsidizing more than 50 percent of their employees' in-office meals. Here too, local officials argued the ban was needed to protect local restaurants and retailers. The rule was not retroactive, so it had little effect when it passed. But when Facebook opens new office space in the town, it will have to be cafeteria-free.

This is neither the first nor the worst of San Francisco's attempts to fix an imaginary problem with a petty restriction, but it just might be the most offensive to my libertarian sensibilities. Where you choose to spend your lunch break is not a public concern. Handwringing about struggling restaurants or atomizing social trends does not make it one.

If San Francisco politicos really want to give restaurants a helping hand, they could lessen the city's tax and regulatory burdens. And if they want to make tech workers more active in city life, maybe—just maybe—they should stop writing bills that vilify them.

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  1. Up next: banning brown bag lunches.

    Thank God for common sense lunch control legislation.

    1. Damn, you beat me to it.

    2. You may still bring a brown bag lunch, but it will have to be concealed carry.

      1. Watch out for those damn Assault Lunches. And don’t forget: mandatory psychological examinations for brown baggers, and no brown bags allowed for anyone on the No-Fly List!

        And to prove we’re nonpartisan: people from majority Muslim countries shall not be permitted to brown bag.

        1. Assault lunches being defined as having ten or more calories?

          1. Any lunch that has meat in it.

          2. onions, cabbage, beans, microwaved fish, etc

      2. But no high capacity brown bags. No one needs a brown bag with the capacity to bring down multiple hunger pangs.

    3. Are they brown reusable-bag lunches? That may be acceptable as long as your CapriSun does not have the little straw.

      (How will you manage? Just poke, and suck on the little hole. Fuck, it’s probably the only little hole left in San Francisco. Hey-o!)

    4. You can bring a lunch to work, but only 3 items, each less than 3.4oz, in a clear plastic bag. The FSA (Food Security Administration) thanks you for your cooperation.

  2. What did I just say? Government is the things we choose to do together and once we decide what we’re going to do together you don’t have the right to choose not to participate. It’s “we” and “together”, what part of that is unclear?

    1. *golf clap*

    2. Up next: Government Almighty will decide what EVERYONE has to eat for breakfast every morning! But it’s OK, since we get to VOTE for who is going to tell us what to eat for breakfast!!!

      Stupid bi-coastal cities… I can no longer put ANYTHING past these power pigs!!!

    3. And the smaller the government, the more petty it gets, right down to HOAs. That is why I remain a bit skeptical that decentralization is some kind of libertarian boon. The only good kind of decentralization is right down to the individual.

      1. I am talking about political decentralization, not decentralization in general.

        1. It’s far easier to restrain a local government or vote with your feet with a decentralized government versus a centralized government

          1. I’ll give you the “vote with your feet” thing. Not sure it is easier to restrain a local govt, though.

            1. One time the mayor of Tucson, Johnathan Rothschild, got car jacked and had his Prius stolen. So it’s easier to effect direct action on that scale apparently.

              1. It’s true. That is exceedingly unlikely to happen to Trump.

  3. “…they could lessen the city’s tax and regulatory burdens.”

    That was funny part. .

    1. Now THAT requires an “I’m serious” followup.

    2. I’m betting that this is at least in part to the deleterious effects of Fight for $15.

      If they mandate away other food sources, more fast food and similar restaurants will have to spring up, even with the higher minimum wage.

  4. Why are the pretty ones always crazy?

    1. Right? And festooned with needles and covered in urine and feces.

      1. I do not want to see your browser history.

        1. I was only talkin’ ’bout San Francisco!

        2. Ok, who do you think has the most frightening browser history? I am going with Yellow Tony.

          1. Yellow Tony doesn’t have a browser history. He borrows other people’s computers, spooges all over them, posts on then internet, then spooges again.

            Don’t ask why I had to get my laptop replaced.

            1. How about some courtesy? But don’t tell me there was an all-Tony lemon party! You guys are gonna rip space-time and bring the fish people into this dimension.

              1. >psst! they are fish people!

      2. Rule 34, I guess?

    2. Young and dumb fetish amirite?

    3. You know why. Because they can get away with it. That’s why the best ones are late bloomers. Like Austin, TX.

  5. San Francisco wants to ban workplace cafeterias. I’m serious.

    In this day and age, the “I’m serious” followup is not really necessary.

    Also, watch this the fuck right now.

    1. I got a long way into that before I realized it was joking. Even the “clean needles” line did not strike me as beyond the pale for Seattle. So good satire there.

      1. The “while refusing to learn from the past” wasn’t your first clue?

        I’ll admit the first time I watched it, I almost stopped listening because I got stuck on that “refusing to learn from the past” remark and was rolling it around in my head wondering, “Is that supposed to be a… good thing?”

        I had to restart the video because missed the 30 seconds after that.

        1. They were all clues, but I honestly could see people saying most of that.

  6. Glad I don’t live in SF. Also glad that people who like places like that have a place to go

  7. TINSTAAFL!

    (And the government is going to make sure of that)

  8. I knew where this was going to before I read the subtitle.

  9. Many Bay City restaurants see corporate cafeterias as unbeatable competition for the lunchtime crowd.

    But are they really? I have experienced the “corporate cafeteria”, maybe not as glitzy as the ones on offer to SF tech overlords, but still I would always much prefer going outside to a real restaurant and I suspect many or most of those working in downtown SF feel the same. Who wants shitty cafeteria food surrounded by nerds when there’s a whole city of better restaurants outside your door?

    1. If I worked at Ikea I’d probably eat in.

      1. These euphemisms!

      2. Swedish clams every day?

    2. Who wants shitty cafeteria food surrounded by nerds when there’s a whole city of better restaurants outside your door?

      Nerds

    3. Several years ago I worked at the main Travelers Insurance building in Hartford. Their cafeteria was run by an outside catering company. They had a sandwich shop, a soup shop, a pizza/grinders shop, a salad bar, and a ton of grab-and-go offerings. Every other week they kicked out the pizza guys and brought in sushi guys. The food was better and more convenient than any restaurant nearby.

      1. I could inhale a platter of even the most basic sashimi as long as the quality was decent. Since I’d only had decent quality up until that point and I hadn’t really been to many malls before, when I saw went to a mall about ten years ago I saw some and ordered me up a big plate of food court sushi.

        Good Lord.

        I hope yours was at least decent.

        1. Food Court Sushi sounds like a Japanese zeuhl band.

        2. I don’t eat sushi but when they were in there was always a line going almost out of the cafeteria.

      2. Yeah, but Hartford is a shithole. You may think SF is too but it’s pretty well-known for having a lot of good restaurants too.

    4. I think the modern Silicon Valley cafeteria is pretty good. I strongly suspect it’s a long way from the Defense contractor cafeteria I used to enjoy that was offered in the middle of the desert at a secret government site when I used to live in flyover country.

      1. Did you used to work at Sandia?

        1. Sandia isn’t secret.

    5. Modern “tech” cafeterias tend to be every bit as good as the typical lunch restaurant, and subsidized by the employer.

      1. It probably depends where the “campus” is located. The original Silicon Valley south of SF is entirely suburban so yeah I bet their cafeterias kick ass because there’s nothing better outside.

      2. It’s a nice choice to have. The MS one’s at my current job are not that subsidized though so a lot of people go outside. I’m starting at Google next month though, and their’s are fully subsidized and free. So that’s, at the very least, a nice perk for saving some money.

        1. GOOGLE!?! You will have to give us secret updates about the inner workings of SJW headquarters.

          1. Rule number one: Do not believe what you read on the web.

    6. Who wants shitty cafeteria food surrounded by nerds when there’s a whole city of better restaurants outside your door?

      People who want to spend under $20 on lunch?

    7. One time I got to visit ILM. Had lunch in their cafeteria and it was amazing. They had a sushi station, a sandwich station, a wood-fired pizza station, and an incredible variety of other items–many grown on Skywalker Ranch. The food was as good as any restaurant, plus it was reasonable and convenient.

      1. Cisco was much the same, 20 years ago. Wood fired oven pizza, sushi, gourmet soups, sandwiches on fresh baked rolls, the works.

    8. Who wants shitty cafeteria food surrounded by nerds when there’s a whole city of better restaurants urine, used needles, and feces right outside your door?

      I can’t help but think the nerds might have some reason to want to stay inside.

  10. To hear it from the sponsors, the point of the ban is to integrate San Francisco’s reclusive tech workers into the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s “about a cultural shift,” Safa? tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “We don’t want employees biking or driving into their office, staying there all day long and going home. This is about getting people out of their office, interacting with the community and adding to the vibrancy of the community.”

    Given where they are, I cannot blame the employees for avoiding SF like the plague. At its current rate, it will be housing the plague soon enough.

    Sanitation was kinda vital to keep public health for centuries and SF has decided to slouch heavily on that.

    1. Ha, they probably want the tech workers “interacting with the community” because many of them are naive and good targets for muggers and pickpockets.

  11. If I worked there, I would be pissed. I’d also be an idiot for living in CA, but I’d be a pissed, idiot.

  12. I work in the tech industry (in northern VA) and one reason a lot of people where I work tend to eat in the office (brown bag, fast food takeout, and our company has a “snack closet” that includes lunchable stuff like canned soup) is the time factor. Just getting a lunch outing organized is a major undertaking; the oft-used simile “like herding cats” definitely applies. Then there’s driving to the restaurant, finding parking, walking to the restaurant from the distant parking spot you finally found, waiting to be seated, waiting for your order to be taken, waiting for your food to arrive, eating, waiting for the check(s), waiting for the waiter to process a dozen credit cards, walking back to your car, driving back to the office.

    Maybe government workers can get away with being out to lunch that much. To quote Dr. Ray Stanz, “I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results.” In other words if I spend two hours at lunch I’ll have to make that up by working late.

  13. “The Chronicle threw some shade on this idea in another article yesterday, pointing to other factors?market saturation, a lack of parking?that explain the tough times experienced by some San Francisco eateries.”

    They left out the “Healthy SF” tax and the M/W cost additions to the restaurant checks.

  14. How about having better food ? Maybe that would work ?
    and is it still true that the SF visitors bureau recommends that of you drop your wallet kick it all the way across the Oakland Bay Bridge before picking it up?

  15. “We don’t want employees biking or driving into their office, staying there all day long and going home. This is about getting people out of their office, interacting with the community and adding to the vibrancy of the community.”

    Listen, assholes, you’re San Francisco. Your community? SUCKS. It’s vibrant in the same way radiation poisoning is vibrant. People stay in their office and then go home because SAN FRANCISCO FUCKING SUCKS. Personally, I’d rather living in Cleveland. At least people don’t shit on the streets there!

  16. San Francisco: If you thought things couldn’t get any shittier- you ain’t seen nothing yet!

  17. SF has one of the highest numbers of restaurants per capita. Almost TWICE that of New York. WTF do they want?

    http://www.worldcitiesculturef…..population

    1. They want to force people to go to those restaurants. It’s just a subsidy.

  18. While a lot of these socially stunted nerds and atomized twenty-somethings would no doubt benefit from not having the workplace and their co-workers be their substitute family environment as most tech corporations would prefer, prohibiting workplace cafeterias isn’t going to make them give any more of a shit about their community than their current state of indifference. These people already drown their free-floating anxieties and rootless social lives at the latest trendy bars and eateries on the weekends, so trying to force them to spend more money on lunch as well is just an exercise in mental masturbation.

    And let’s be honest, a lot of these people probably eat at their desk anyway because they’re hip deep in whatever project their boss gave them, not socializing in the cafeteria.

  19. The free in-house lunches are also social engineering done by the tech companies, who want their employees to talk to each other and hopefully exchange ideas. I worked at a place before where my boss encouraged us to do the same-problem is, few of us had time between constant meetings, and the amount of work that was expected, to have lunch anywhere but at our desks. Then there is the problem that a lot of people don’t want to be bothered while they are eating, or already have their favorite lunch buddies or cliques. Did the SF politicians ever think that maybe tech workers don’t want to be forced to mingle with San Franciscans.

    1. I remember when I worked in downtown D.C. and the female employees had to be escorted to the Metro stations if they left work after 5 PM, due to the “vibrancy” of the community.

      1. AH, but vibrancy is supposed to make you woke!

  20. I don’t click SFC links, so I missed a bit.
    Does the bill have a clause promising to clean the shit off the sidewalks by noon each day?
    Does the bill provide free safe transportation to and from the manically uncrowded restaurants?
    Does the bill have any provisions for keeping the tech companies from packing up and leaving?
    Does anyone actually give a damn or two?

  21. Sometimes it is a shame we gave up on tarring, feathering and riding arrogant public officials out on a rail.

  22. I have been to SF several times and even considered moving there for a job a while back. Here are some reasons I came up with not to live there:

    sky-high rents even then (2003 or so)
    homeless defecating on the sidewalk and picking fights with passers by
    complete lack of attractive women
    random strangers giving me shit for smoking a cigarette

    The list now would be at least 100x longer today

  23. “We don’t want employees biking or driving into their office, staying there all day long and going home.”

    And “we” don’t want some dumb bureaucrat spending all day trying to run everyone’s lives, but here you are.

  24. So long as the goose keeps laying golden eggs, who cares if it’s comfortable or if its quote-unquote “rights” are respected?

  25. Hillary Fucking Clinton will NEVER be president

    Bill Fucking Clinton will NEVER be 1st male 1st lady !!

    Hahahahahahahhahahahaa

    Fuck all of you democrat progressive socialist communist asshat assholes!!!

    Hahahahahhaaaa

      1. Wrong time too. It’s from 2016

        1. There is never a wrong time to remind Lefties how bad Hillary lost.

          Its fun because they get little strokes each time you mention it.

  26. I think this is also great evidence against the idea of a technocracy. People like to think of government and regulation being a surgeon’s steel. Cutting precisely and acting in a reasonable manner. Subtly tweaking parameters and regulations to get subtle desired outcome.

    When in reality, it’s just people beating down others with a cudgel.

  27. This seems like an odd policy for San Francisco. I would have expected them to pass a law Mandating that large employers provide “free” lunches.

    1. San Francisco views the tech workers coming in as usurpers in many ways. They make a lot of money, and while they like that largesse and want to feed on it, they also dislike the changes it may bring to the city.

      SF is a city that wants to be an unchanging paradise, which to do so requires them to continually suck vitality from new industry. They are very lucky in that they can suck upon the most profitable group of businesses in the history of the world.

      1. SF is literally a shithole. I go up there for a ballgame at AT&T Park and some of it is really nice, but why would I pay 5,6,7k a month for the privilege is stepping over shit and used needles every day

        1. I don’t know. I’m a bad person to ask as I do not even like visiting cities.

    2. San Francisco became the first city with $15 minimum wage, shafting restaurants and forcing them to raise prices.

      Now it’s time to make amends by shafting tech companies to throw business back to the restaurants.

      Of course the nerds could use the rental electric scooters to get to the restaurant, but San Francisco yanked them off the streets pending setting licensing fees.

      And these are the same pecksniffs that want workers to give up cars and use mass transit.

      See? It all flows together.

      1. I am against a national 15 dollar min wage. However, if a restaurant in SF pays their workers less than 15 bucks an hour, they are being douchebags.

    3. The next step is mandating that the large employers give vouchers good *only for* lunches in local restaurants. Use it or lose it.

  28. Fuck off, slavers

  29. This doesn’t go far enough. What about the employees who bring their own lunches? We must also prohibit brown-bag lunches. Furthermore, what if employees start going to only a few specific places? Having “favorites,” as it were? Can’t have that! We must ban visiting the same place twice in one week. And we must mandate that employees buy the most expensive menu items. In fact, lets just save time here. All employees will be given a paycut, and the company will just mail that money directly to local restaurants. Problem solved!

    1. . . . mail that money directly to local restaurants

      *WHAAAAAAAT!*

      No, no, no – they will mail that money directly to the city council. Who will then set up an agency to ‘equitably’ distribute that money to ‘eligible’ restaurants within ‘revitalization districts’. Oh, and a certain percentage will be set aside to fund ‘homeless programs’ – after all, its not fair that these people aren’t as rich as you – needle exchanges, and the powerwasher’s union so they can pay powerwashers more money to do a better job blasting the shit stains off the sidewalks.

      1. Your views are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  30. Dont Lefties want to use the reasoning behind a law to strike down laws?

    Safa? tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “We don’t want employees biking or driving into their office, staying there all day long and going home. This is about getting people out of their office, interacting with the community and adding to the vibrancy of the community.”

    The US and California Constitutions give no authority to government to force people where they can eat.

    1. Pro lifer: “Abortion should be illegal because it kills a baby.”
      Lefty: “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO WITH MY BODY!”

      Libertarian: “I think people should be able to eat, drink, and smoke what they want.”
      Lefty: “OMG U CAN’T PUT THAT STUFF IN YOUR BODY AND OUR VEGAN RESTAURANTS NEED MORE SALES!!!!”

    2. I have literally seen lefties deride “constituionality” because no women or people of color were consulted in writing it.

      It’s essentially incurable. We just have to hope that the progs hit bottom, and come out wiser for it.

  31. Some of these tech people want to save up so they can move to a more affordable location.

    Why would they want to waste their money on $20 subway sandwiches?

  32. Why does anyone still live there?

  33. I fully endorse every piece of bat-shit crazy legislation in San Francisco! San Franciscans deserve it!

  34. Seriously, what is wrong with the people who run tech companies?

    OK, maybe if you’re a massive behemoth its impractical to shift operations but there are tons of mid and large tech companies that could just up and leave to any number of still good cities that won’t go out of their way to shit you.

    1. There is prestige and money to be in SV it seems.

    2. I work for a mid-sized tech company and we are very proud to NOT be in SF. Of course, we are in Chicago so…definitely a glass house we are living in.

    3. That’s why Palo Alto Networks moved to Santa Clara. Still called Palo Alto Networks, though. Cheaper end of the Valley.

  35. Regarding Mountain View. All the decent restaurants are downtown off of Castro Street. Which is already short of parking and crowded. Anywhere close to a corporate headquarters is going to be fast food chains.

    If Google wasn’t grandfathered in, then Shoreline and Rengstorff roads would become literal parking lots. This is a company that has to bus in its workers, imagine all of those busses heading downtown every day at noon. Absolutely fucking nuts.

    These big businesses have in-house cafeterias for a reason. Ban the cafeterias and it won’t mean more business for the politically connected restaurants, it will mean brown bag lunches.

  36. hard not to laugh since the same tech workers no doubt support the same politicians enacting this stuff.

    1. Hard to say, as most of those tech workers don’t actually live in the city. More people commute into SF than anything, since it is simply so expensive.

      1. But they are probably left leaning, but do they support those exact policies. I do not know.

  37. So are they also going to mandate that workers get an extra 30 minutes to eat lunch to make up for walking or riding into town and waiting in line?

  38. Just reason number 4,286 to get the hell out of San Francisco.

    1. And Commifornia.

  39. Remember when the slang term “shitkicker” didn’t refer to a cosmopolitan resident of San Francisco, San Diego, or other coastal metropolis?

  40. In-house cafeterias increase productivity. Probably the business lobby has enough leverage to defeat the restaurant lobby on this one. It’s just “who’s a better crony” fight.

    1. You can’t spell camaraderie without comrade. Oh wait…

  41. You cannot have people eating and working in the same space!

    YOU CANNOT HAVE ANARCHY!

  42. I’m curious how many of those cafeteria employees are union workers?

  43. There is literally no fucking end to the madness!

  44. “We don’t want employees biking or driving into their office, staying there all day long and going home.”

    This was the end result for every crap-town that was granted a casino license in Illinois. “What do you mean slot jockeys won’t want to stroll the downtown streets of Joliet/Elgin/Cairo?!?!”

    “This is about getting people out of their office, interacting with the community and adding to the vibrancy of the community.”

    Someone has to pick up the human feces.

    1. Everybody grab a compostable, non-planet killing paper bag and start picking up…

  45. Oh the dangers to society of an inexpensive convenient lunch.

  46. “Shut up and eat where we tell you to.”

    The People’s Revolutionary Council On Doing What the Fuckever We Tell You To

    San Francisco Enclave…

  47. Prediction:
    Soon SF will bemoan the fact that no new companies build buildings within regulation distance of SF, demand ‘development equality’ with the rest of California to force companies to build office buildings without cafeterias in SF.

  48. Here’s the statement of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association supporting the bill: http://ggra.org/san-francisco-…..afeterias/

  49. SF can’t pick up the discarded needles and shit off the street but they can tell people where they can and can’t eat lunch? Too funny!

  50. It’s a pleasant call to own. The MS one’s at my gift place of employment aren’t that supported but such a large amount of people go outside. i am starting at Google one month from currently but, and their’s are fully supported and free. So that’s, no but, a pleasing liven up for stinting some money.

    Regards,
    Kevin Johnson
    Dissertation Writing

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