Free Feasts For Silicon Valley Techies Means Famine For Surrounding Restaurants

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Free lunches have become a staple in Silicon Valley. But while it’s a feast at tech offices, it’s a famine for the restaurant industry.

At Delfina Pizzeria in Palo Alto, the bittersweet taste of disruption is in the air.

Some of their most talented servers, cooks, and managers have left for better paying jobs in high tech.

“This is an unforeseen effect of the tech boom. It’s just a new reality,” Delfina co-owner Craig Stoll said.

For years now, tech workers at companies like Google and Facebook have enjoyed free, or subsidized gourmet meals all day.

To keep up with their own hungry, growing workforce, companies have been recruiting from local restaurants by offering higher wages, better benefits, and normal working hours.

“It’s more conducive to having a family. Or having a life, you know?” Stoll said.

Craig and Annie Stoll own four restaurants in the Bay Area, and just lost an operations manager and a few servers to Twitter and Airbnb. They say it’s an industry wide problem.

Normally, their Craigslist ads for sous chefs and servers get dozens of applicants, but not anymore.

They’re now trying to sell applicants on the rush of working in a restaurant where you can learn from the best and grow your career.

“A restaurant is the best place to be for that. You work for the best chef you can find and learn all you can. Working in tech is a job,” Stoll said.

Craig and Annie have increased wages and benefits.

“Prices will be going up,” Annie Stoll said.

“At the end of the day prices will increase. And we’ll all realize that eating out will cost more, and the people that work for us. It’s not rocket science,” Craig Stoll said.

On flip side of this problem, restaurant owners say tech companies often rent out their spaces for events.

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