Monday, March 28, 2016

No More Free Pickles in Restaurants in the People's Republic of San Francisco

With a very high minimum wage, heavy taxes and extreme regulations. restaurant owners cut where they can. "I can't absorb it anymore."

Matt Miller emails:
See: The Great Restaurant Deluge (SanFrancisco Magazine)
Between the skyrocketing cost of doing business and the unprecedented level of competition, Bay Area restaurant owners are sounding the alarm: A storm is coming.
·       15 month permitting process (vs. 10 weeks in Portland)
·       $200,000 liquor license
·       Double construction costs
·       Taxes, minimum wage – if you pay the dishwasher $19 an hour, what are you going to pay the sous chef?
·       Swollen commercial rents
·       Liberal owners caught in conundrum – ie.
o   Minimum wage causes extreme challenges to their business model, when most income is earned by tips
o   Healthcare costs by city ordinance, spend $850,000 / year on mandated health insurance, yet as average age of employees is 26, likely not even $100,000 of that money is actually used.
·       Restaurants are cutting costs – no longer offer free pickles to everyone, slashing valet service, tipless model, but only so much you can do before you raise prices.

“People are like, ‘Aren’t you precious, selling $5 croissants.’ Well, no, we’re just trying to pay our bills,” says Marla Bakery’s Wolf. “But try to explain to someone the idea that organic butter is five times the cost of conventional butter. They don’t give a shit. They just see it as being four times as expensive [as another
croissant]. People have their limits they’re not going to go above, and they don’t understand why they would need to.”

And that’s why higher menu prices don’t necessarily mean proportionally higher check averages: “When restaurants raise prices,” says Borden, “people order less.” And if customers aren’t ready for higher prices, well, that’s too bad. “[They’re] going to have to stop asking us to subsidize their lifestyle,” Weinberg says flatly. “You’re going to have to pay double for your steak if you want to live in this fabulous city. I can’t absorb it anymore.”


  1. 3 of your 7 of the bullet points are market driven.
    Minimum wage: why would anyone pay dishwasher $19? That's pure heresy.
    15 month permitting process is extremely lengthy, I agree. Do we lower the safety standards or do we hire more staff at the city hall? First option WILL endanger people, second will increase size of the government.
    As far as the 'Healthcare cost and comment 'spend $850,000' is cryptic at best, please provide a reference.
    Most of what you've described is caused by free market economy. Your analysis is intellectually equivalent to Trump's speech. Don't embarrass yourself and don't insult your readers!!

    1. Soooo.... why does it take 15 months to certify what the government considers safe? Especially when Portland does it in 10 weeks? Are the bureaucrats in Portland super fast? Does Portland have a giant staff? Or are the regulations less onerous? Does that translate to less safe? Before the regulations were restaurant workers in any great danger? I won't continue. Your assumptions are showing.