SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Two San Francisco supervisors want to do away with employer-provided free lunches, a perk enjoyed by thousands of people who work in the City. That’s because restaurant owners say they can’t compete.

It’s lunchtime at Perennial in SoMa but you wouldn’t know it. The seats are empty. Anthony Myint is the restaurant’s owner and says it’s extremely challenging owning a restaurant so close to big companies that have their own onsite free employee cafeterias.

“I think it’s never been harder to run a restaurant in the city then right now,” he said.

Other restaurant owners in the area agree.

“We see it in our business,” said Ryan Corridor, owner of Corridor. “We see thousands of employees in a block radius that don’t go out to lunch and don’t go out in support of restaurants every day — it’s because they don’t have to.”

“You can’t compete with free,” said Gwyneth Borden, Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. Free food is a wonderful amenity, but doesn’t do anything to extend the community around it.”

San Francisco Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin introduced new legislation Tuesday prohibiting in-house cafeterias in new office buildings and tech campuses.

They say the city does have the legal right to do this. It’s through a zoning amendment using certain planning and public health codes.

“This is the beginning of a conversation,” said Safai. “We think it’s appropriate conversation to have now. We absolutely have that authorization.”

Jonathan Berger works at a startup company that gives their employees an allowance to go out and eat at local restaurants every day. He’s also worked at a large tech company with a cafeteria of free food.

“The workers in that café I think benefit tremendously, as well, from having those jobs there, so there’s a lot of ways to make about this issue and it’s complex,” said Berger.

If passed, this new law would only apply to new companies, not existing companies like Google, Levi’s and Twitter.

Comments (15)
  1. Lawful or not, the city ought to stay out of it.

  2. Brian Hagen says:

    So capitalist restaurants are demanding that people, who are satisfied with their communal meals, start spending money to prop up their businesses? That these businesses deserve patronage instead of paying dedicated staff to prepare workers that will definitely be hungry every day? Legislating something like this is what we call a bailout, my friends.

    Don’t bailout greedy capitalists. Simple.

  3. Restaurant meals are overpriced and not worth the money. Plus, at lunchtime, you have limited time to eat, and restaurants are too slow. There are a lot more pressing issues in SF that the Supervisors need to be working on.

  4. Any time you hear of a really bad idea out of City Hall in San Francisco, Aaron Peskin is inevitably involved.

    Also, the quick look at the website for the restaurant Perennial will show you that it’s not even open for lunch.

  5. The dii ck eating owners that favor this rule are basically just unable to compete in the real world.
    Why aren’t dating apps forced to make women go out with guys on their apps?
    This stupid think is commonplace in AIDSville.

  6. Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin are an embarrassment for mankind. They should immediately be ousted from their offices. Those businesses have never had that lunch business in the first place. Without those larege employers these employees wouldn’t even be there. There is nothing these restaurants are losing that they have had before.
    Free or subsidized employee food is one of the few remaining social employer benefits. To prohibit those benefits just to increase the profits of some outside businesses is outrages. What’s next, prohibiting employer based health insurance to improve the profits of hospitals? This is outrages!

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