San Francisco trying to ban the free company lunch for techies

This is well beyond belief possibly illegal…

If this passed I’d form a union to fight it and move my location,…??!

The problem as I see it is that these restaurants seem to think that these companies owe them customers in the locations they’ve chosen for their restaurants and that companies giving free lunches is somehow unfair.

Ultimately opening a restaurant where companies provide free lunches is kind of a stupid business proposition, and that’s pretty much the long and short of it. Nobody owes these guys anything.

Free lunch. That is a nice perk.

Neighboring restaurants should look to special promotions to draw customers.

This shouldn’t need government interference.

Congratulation, San Francisco - you’ve ruined free employee pizza!

I’ll jump in, as I can sort of see both sides (even though I spent several years at a company that HEAVILY subsidized employee meals).

First, it does seem like a public policy issue. If the city wants to revitalize an area, they would have an interest in helping local restaurants stay in business. At the very least, they might want to make sure that the caterers or food service that provides the employee meals is local. I’m not saying it’s fair, but I think the city has some interest in the issue.

Second, I’m a bit curious about whether or not the “free” meals for employees are taxed. That’s another issue the city/state/feds would be concerned about. If somebody is feeding me a meal every day and claiming it as a business expense, I imagine it would be considered part of my taxable income. The city probably gets some revenue if I go out and buy my lunch, though I don’t know how that works in SF.

In short, I’m not surprised that there’s some interest in “fixing” the situation.

I suspect the restaurants are the older establishments in this scenario. Pretty sure this whole bill is about the resentment between long-time San Franciscan residents and the newer tech workers that are displacing them.

I had the same thought.
Perennial, at least, opened in 2016. Didn’t look into any of the others.

Instead of attracting customers, they want them to be forced. Will they be required to spend a certain dollar amount?

Will they be banned from bringing their lunches?

This is a law that would get struck down before the ink is dry.

And bilking them out of their money. Utter hogwash. Total bullshit. These supervisors need to update their resumes.

Why isn’t this in Stupid Democratic Idea of the Day thread? I mean THIS one takes the cake!

From the linked article:

It sounds like the owner failed to do the appropriate amount of market research. he knew there would be some impact to his business, but underestimated the effect. That’s not the tech companies’ problem, that’s his. Perhaps he should close up shop and reopen in one of the other neighborhoods he referenced.

It’s be easy to prohibit the cafeterias by changing zoning rules such that they are disallowed in office spaces. That would be lame, but the power exists already.

As for taxability, prior to 12/31/17, the cost of employer subsidized food at cafeterias was 100% deductible for the employer. After the latest tax bill, those costs are only 50% deductible, and in 2025, will be not deductible at all as business expenses. The meals are not considered taxable fringe benefits to the employee and are excluded from income assuming the provision of meals meets certain basic requirements that the vast majority of people meet when talking about tech company free meals on campus.

I am embarrassed to say that my local supervisor (first term) is one of the co-sponsors of this bill. I thought he had more sense (the other co-sponsor is a complete reactionary who never wants anything to change). I have written him an email making clear my displeasure at this proposed law. It has nothing to do with his district and I suspect he may have been pressured or lured into something unwise by his much more experienced compatriot.

A complicating factor is that at least one major mid-Market St. tech firm (Twitter, I think) was given a tax break by the city for moving here. That tax break is about to or has already run out. It shouldn’t make a difference if the lunch situation wasn’t specified in the agreement.

I will also say that I have not talked to anyone or read anything except remarks from the restaurant owners that is in favor of this bill. I hope it dies a fast and painful death.

This proposal is going to go exactly no where.

And I’ve worked at all sorts of tech companies, and while lots of them had company cafeterias, they weren’t free. You had to pay. Of course there are company lunches where they bring in food for everyone, but free food at the company cafeteria isn’t a typical perk at Amazon or Microsoft. It’s a bit cheaper than typical restaurant fare, but not that much cheaper.

The real reason companies have the cafeteria is so that people can get food and head back to their desks and keep working, instead of taking an hour and a half to get lunch off-site.

And this thread is in Café Society why?

The proposal in SF was executed in Milpitas, just down the way. It’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Lots of companies in SF area offer free food for employees on a regular basis. I’d say it’s fairly common, though a full blown cafeteria less so. Drinks, catered food, etc. are expected at any tech company in the bay. Several of the big ones provide free food. Google’s gourmet food is free for all any time of the day. This isn’t just occasional lunches being brought in, it’s food for all.

This is the kinda shit that will turn me REPUBLICAN!!

My company has a cafeteria in the Los Angeles office. It is not free. but the prices are very reasonable. Much less than we could get anywhere else.

And it is really good food, prepared fresh. Different menu every day.

Provided by… a small business! And it is taxed. So, not free, and taxed. If this stupid law is enacted, I would hope that the cafeterias will adopt this method.

But, if enacted, I hope Google takes them to court.

Free food for employees is as old as the day is long and now they want to pass a bill?

When I worked for E*Trade in the mid-90s when it was still an internet start-up, we got pastries and coffee most mornings and lunch every single day. Sometimes, if we were still there, we got dinner, too. In our case, food was bought and brought in from local businesses in the area because we were working in some rented offices and definitely didn’t have a cafeteria, but still. Private companies should be allowed to feed their employees if they want.

It appears companies will still be able to order food from outside restaurants for their employees; essentially using them as caterers.

Yes, but it will probably be broccoli pizza!

The linked article said Mountain View. Good luck with that especially. When we went to the Castro in Mountain View for lunch it was jammed. If Mountain View forbade free food for Google (not the law, which was for a new development) the traffic jam would be immense.

This proposal is some major stupid.
First, the free food people are far from everyone in town. If they are not getting much of the current lunch base, they won’t get that much of the new base.
Second, their current customers will desert them when they see lines out the door during lunch, when you don’t have that much time.
Third, a big reason for company cafeterias is that you can discuss work there. You better not do that outside.
Fourth, since the restaurants in walking distance can’t handle the load, eliminating lunches (free or not) will increase traffic, the last thing San Francisco needs. More pollution to subsidize restaurants? No thanks.
I worked in places with subsidized cafeterias, and was in walking distance from a shopping center with some reasonable restaurants. Most people ate in the cafeteria for speed and convenience. The restaurants were still pretty busy. They’d melt down if all of us went there, or everyone would bring lunch.

Finally, if SF passes this law, that would be it for big companies moving in. Maybe that is what they want, but I bet not.