Local bureaucrats in San Francisco may soon mandate that big tech employees go out to eat for lunch rather than voluntarily eat in their own company cafeterias.
And no, this is not The Onion. This is real life.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, restaurants in the Golden Gate City's business district have recently experienced a decline in their number of lunchtime patrons, largely because big tech companies like Google, Uber and Facebook have begun incorporating their own company cafeterias where they offer their employees free food prepared by large executive catering companies. It’s a pretty enticing worker benefit, and also helps increase productivity by keeping employees in the building where they can talk, collaborate and easily get back to work.
But local government officials aren’t happy that thousands of tech workers are no longer spending their hard-earned dollars in the local cafés. So their solution? Make them.
San Fran officials are looking to pass a new ordinance banning future companies from establishing their own in-house cafeterias, all under the guise of “helping small businesses.”
“In an attempt to attract employees to local restaurants and businesses, Supervisors Ahsha Safaí and Aaron Peskin are co-sponsoring an ordinance that would ban ‘employee cafeterias’ from new office buildings in the city. This comes as local retailers, particularly those downtown, complain of a drop in business as more companies offer their workers meals in private corporate cafeterias, Safaí said,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Safaí also admits the new regulation is a way of forcing people to “interact with the community” – even if they don’t want to.
“This is also about a cultural shift,” he said. “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."
Except that no one is stopping anybody from going out to eat for lunch. Google isn’t forcing its workers to stay in its cafeteria; they’re choosing to do so of their own free will. But instead of respecting the voluntary decision of perfectly free and able-bodied adults, the local government is taking it upon itself to force them to spend their money in local restaurants – restaurants that clearly aren’t currently offering enough incentive on their own to entice workers out of their buildings and into their booths.
Then again, this is San Francisco, where mandating that its citizens spend money in local businesses is so much easier than cleaning up the human feces and dirty needles scattered all over the public streets, and where knowingly infecting someone with HIV against their knowledge is perfectly fine, but don’t you dare think about eating in your own company building when you could go spend $30 on a cranberry tofu salad at the local Patchouli Palace.