She's comparing apples and oranges, and doesn't even realize it.
$3,447 is the asking price for apartments now on the market. $1,600 is the median rent price people are actually paying, including people with rent control and affordable housing. People who have been living in rent-controlled apartments for many years pay a fraction of the current market rate.
As a result, her second and third conclusions don't follow. If this is the kind of critical reasoning that comes with "an MBA from a top school, the rigor of an engineering education and a decade and a half launching and managing some of the most successful businesses for Google and other tech companies," it's worrying.
In fact, it's easy to find actual market rate rent prices from 2016. According to the sites below, it was around $3,500, so rental prices have remained very flat over the last few years.
Which is why this problem is a slow burn. It's not like everyone was evicted and the worker pool cratered overnight. But as existing low/middle income workers leave for whatever reason, they cannot be replaced. Their numbers are on a one-way ratchet downward.
I think the median rent also includes people sharing a 2/3/4 bedroom home. There aren't that many 1 bedroom apartments to go around in SF, as I understand it.
On the labor side, there's enough labor competition to drive salaries of line cooks to $50k/year. That's about $38k post-tax, which even after spending spending $19k/year in rent (split a two bedroom maybe 40 min from downtown) leaves $19k. Not great, but mind you the average line cook in the US is pulling $30k/year pre-tax (24k post-tax) -- the COL difference is pretty much compensated for.
Where things break down badly is with older, more experienced workers that have/might have families (e.g. the cook with 4 kids in the intro paragraph). Space comes at a premium in the Bay Area and if they prefer to not be crammed in to a small place, the salary an experienced worker can make isn't going to cut it to cover the desired marginal living space.
The final piece in the puzzle is that the desired salary multiple of these experienced workers (over entry-level ones) is higher than their productivity gains. That is, if the experienced cook needs twice as much take-home ($110k pre-tax) as the entry-level one (due to family needs), unfortunately, there is insufficient customer demand to pay 2.2x as much for food for this higher quality. (but mind you much more base demand in SF than elsewhere!). Result is that experienced folks move to areas where housing costs (per-sq feet) are lower as a percent of salary.
Net effect might be that the dominant strategy for someone in the restaurant business is to start out in SF but later move to a somewhat lower COL area. With such a strong economic incentive, restaurant composition will likewise follow; city policies, etc. are likely secondary.
In your example, you have the worker coming out okay or possibly slightly ahead (compared to lower COL areas) by spending half their net on rent. But by this 3x rule the landlords renting a property that costs $19k/yr would want to see an income of at least $57k and the worker wouldn't qualify.
If working class adults with families aren't able to afford to raise a family in San Francisco and therefore move to lower COL areas, what's the future of San Francisco?
Where will future inexperienced workers come from if not from today's working class families?
Or, in even shorter terms, high land rents divert value away from skilled workers and towards largely parasitical speculators.
> My reactions were mixed on my first visit, but by the third, I was a major supporter. Flavors blossomed, and I could sense the kitchen becoming more confident.
I went early on, found the food to be reasonable but not great, and ultimately didn’t return. Roughly, she shot for Mourad-level prices, but without the track record or execution. I grew up with this food, and while (again) it was okay, it simply wasn’t great. For $16, that should be an amazing dish of mujadara.
I assume many people felt that they’d rather get tastier middle eastern food, rather than feel hip with the pretty decor. I’d love to see an upscale middle eastern restaurant succeed, but the food has to come first.
Presumably other restaurants are thriving? Are we sure this particular one just didn't have the right business model, like most attempted restaurants don't? The restaurant industry is notoriously competitive, and the customer is always right -- you've got to give them the food they want (not the food you think they should want) at the location they want at a price that's competitive.
As long as plenty of other restaurants are managing to pay their staff enough so that they'll commute... and it doesn't seem like restaurants are disappearing from SF... then isn't this just the case of a bad business plan, or product-market-mistmatch, for this one particular restaurant?
Maybe some are, but a lot are not. From my experience the vast majority in SF only last a few years. I talked with a friend who lived in SF for 30 years and he said it's pretty normal to see restaurants regularly go out of business. Supposedly because renting the space is so insanely expensive. But there's always another sucker who thinks they can win this game.
I think it’s because it has relatively low barriers to entry, is something a lot of people want to do, and it seems easy.
This is how the restaurant industry works everywhere. It's how most small businesses work.
Once they do start to disappear en masse the city will be a less desirable place to live in, rents will drop and restaurants will be able to move back in -- AKA the flip side of the law of supply and demand.
Right now there's a major imbalance with all the Silicon Valley folks wanting to live in the city causing the pricing structure to get all out of wack but eventually it will stabilize as these things tend to do. Just sucks if you're the one trying to keep a service oriented business running in the current market.
Not paying peanuts still doesn't mean it's enough.
Anyhow, my opinion as someone in the restaurant business, the blogger's business had plenty of flaws.
That's what I wrote.
If your friend can't find enough people then the wage he's paying is less than the market-clearing price.
Doesn't matter if you or I think their pay is peanuts or not.
When the market price of coffee increases, coffee shops don't cry that they can't find coffee, they pay the higher price and then they raise prices.
But when the market price of labor increases, employers don't raise their wages, and then they say they can't find workers and can't afford to pay more.
Why is labor pricing treated differently from any other economic input?
Prices are high enough now, where we almost never eat out anymore. Even at the movie theater, I skip the 8$ popcorn and bring some snacks in a bag.
Not really. I haven't eaten from a restaurant or a takeout in four years, maybe a few times in the last decade. When on the road I sometimes eat ready made food from a supermarket, but mostly bring something home prepared. Restaurants are a convenience, a luxury even.
It isn't an austerity measure for me though. I enjoy the process and get most meals prepared by someone who really cares about what I want and is the world's leading expert on that subject.
If a country is governed wisely,
its inhabitants will be content.
They enjoy the labor of their hands
and don't waste time inventing
Since they dearly love their homes,
they aren't interested in travel.
There may be a few wagons and boats,
but these don't go anywhere.
There may be an arsenal of weapons,
but nobody ever uses them.
People enjoy their food,
take pleasure in being with their families,
spend weekends working in their gardens,
delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
And even though the next country is so close
that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,
they are content to die of old age
without ever having gone to see it.
I'm seriously not trying to poke fun but do you mean your mother?
Just be honest, the meal needs to cost more because the cost of production is more.
At the end of the day, it's all about execution, and unless you're able to fully commit to abolishing tips, don't bother trying.
The "healthy SF" 4% mandate is especially egregious. It's simply a common way for restaurants to falsely advertise prices. When I see it, I'm left with a strongly negative impression, and I tip significantly less as a result.
No it's not and no there aren't! I can't believe you think this is normal. Not tipping unless you particularly appreciate the service is like... dumping your fast food trash out the car window when you're done with it. You can probably do it every week for years and get away with it but it's awful behavior.
However, that said, restaurateurs need to realize that it changes the business model. Their waiters are no longer de facto independent contractors that have aligned incentives. Instead they are regular wage earning employees that need more management attention. It's fairly easy to see the impact if you go to a restaurant with a service included threshold (e.g. party of six) and try it both ways.
Maybe some day we'll get it and sales tax to be part of the list price. But that will probably take legal force.
The problem is that every actor - from the diner to the server - is so used to the tipping system. Diners won't factor in the fact that they don't have to tip, because they will probably still want to tip (as mentioned in the article, a lot of people like the feeling of control tipping gives them). Servers won't like it because unlike a service charge or tip, that 20% baked in isn't only for them and they will feel like the owner is shorting them compared to tips (even if they aren't).
Path dependence is hard. I don't know how to fix this situation.
That said, a friend who runs one of my favorite places in SF posted this article to Facebook and said it's really spot on. Diners expect food to be cheaper than the labor market permits.
Since you lived nearby, I always felt that the location was unlikely to succeed. Is there actually a lot of foot traffic there?
The places that are succeeding are all second or third efforts - maybe experience really pays off?
Plenty of restaurants are doing fine; she simply didn't produce what people wanted.
Think of a restaurant owner more like the founder of a start-up. They're literally responsible for everything. Or should be, if they have any sense. Outsourcing every single aspect of a start-up isn't a great idea, is it?
Ideally, a restaurant owner creates the concept, menu, picks the location, hires staff, trains staff, sets service standards, cooks or interacts with guests, orders product, sets prices, etc... You can't just hire people and expect success. If you're a first time owner and not in the restaurant at least 70 hours per week, you're probably going to fail.
Also, restaurateurs can eventually put in a few less hours. The main point is that it pays off to be there for the startup phase, especially if you actually bring skills and talent to your business.
The biggest problem I've seen in restaurants is owners who aren't restaurant people or don't have the right personality and temperament for it.
SF has incredible 4-5 star restaurants of all price levels. So who wants to eat at a very expensive 3.5 star one when there's a Michelin Star place 5 minutes away?
If SF's problems are so insurmountable, how do other good restaurants do it, even ones not owned by some major group?
I've always wondered where the food in a Blade Runner-like future would appear first and what it would taste like—and I genuinely believe it's here.
Partly that's due to a demographic reality: By some measures, Houston is the U.S.A.'s most ethnically diverse city (a bunch of New Yorkers just choked on their halal kebabs reading that, but it's true), and when you get a collision of immigrants, the food scene is guaranteed to be bonkers.
Houston also has cheap commercial and residential rents—oh, and no state income tax—which means broke-ass cooks and chefs can afford to live and open here. Zoning laws are more permissive than an Amsterdam brothel. And customers have cash to spend.
Added disclaimer- I grew up in SF and left in 2005. I live in Houston now.
Houston is a crossroads of different food cultures. It is the South, the West, and the bayou rolled up into one. At first it was Cajun, Creole, Soul, Mexican, and it has been like that for 50 years. But in the last 25 years, lots of more has mixed in like Vietnamese, Central and South American, and a significant New Orleans diaspora due to Katrina.
Plus, you have a car culture where it isn't uncommon to travel 20 miles in 25 minutes for a weekday dinner out. There's so much money sloshing around that lots of folks eat out every night. That plus a healthy supply of labor means it is a very good restaurant city.
Illinois is also home to some of the most violent and poor metropolitan areas in the country. East St. Louis which ranks in around 18x the national homicide rate and South Side Chicago which is consistently one of the most violent places in the country.
The way that some restaurants blame their success and failure on the high cost of labor makes about as much sense as when people review restaurants on Yelp and complain how surprised they were by the bill at the end of the night. It's a math problem. Other people are managing to balance their costs and revenue and stay in business.
Hypothetically, restaurant A and B are the same except A is better organized and your food gets to the customers table faster and at the right temperature. Or restaurant B’s staff doesn’t notice when your wine glass is almost empty and doesn’t sell that second or third glass. Little things can make a huge difference in revenue and ratings, and yet you can see restaurants making stupid mistakes all the time.
Q: Is keeping up the quality going to be enough, though, when it appears crowds seem to demand "the next shiny thing" above other factors (including, perhaps, quality)?
She doesn't realize that she has a role in this as well? How much did she pay for her house/rent? Did she outbid someone in cash?
Yes, I realize the supply side is a major issue to. SF should build more.
It's just the finger pointing (those evil landlords with their Ellis evictions!) made me chuckle a bit.
More specifically, why does the cook only make $24 per hour while the waiting staff gets $42-48?
I understand that San Francisco is an expensive city, but doesn't that simply mean you should raise your prices? Of course that will mean poor people won't be able to eat at your restaurant, but it sounds like poor people have trouble affording anything at all in San Francisco anyway. Clearly the only viable market to focus on is the rich people who can afford to live there.
I don't mean to be callous about this: it's terrible when a city is so expensive that only rich people can afford to live there, and kicking poor tenants our of rent-controlled housing should be illegal. But if your employees are leaving because you don't pay them enough, the solution seems obvious: pay them more. Raise your prices correspondingly. If the market can't bear those prices in such an expensive city, then clearly there's not enough demand for restaurants in San Francisco, which would be sad, but it may be the reality.
Meanwhile, the city would do well to invest in some affordable housing if they don't want to turn into a rich people's ghetto.
Many expensive restaurants in SF are packed and it is quite difficult to get a reservation. There is clearly market demand in that segment.. if the food is good enough.
The low or mid-range segment demand is likely shrinking. Why go out to get mediocre food when it is increasingly easy to have food, groceries, or meal-packs delivered to your door?
That was my takeaway from the article as well. Does anyone know if this par for the restaurant industry? Does FOH make more than the line cooks?
Lack of affordable housing is doing the suffocation. America was built by a strong middle class, and SF is setting an example of what happens when people stop caring about the middle class and $70K/year becomes low income.
I’m not holding my breath for my European government retirement benefit to actually be useful in thirty years, to be honest.
Engineers outside of American tech centers are generally highly underpaid.
That said it's easy to look over the skills of some of these folks. Being able to be gracious and provide a good customer experience for 8+hrs/day in a hectic environment requires skills that take effort to learn and maintain.
"With the service charge, our servers were making $38 per hour (hourly base + hourly service charge) or the equivalent of $70,000 to $80,000 a year if you were working for us full-time."
In comparison with my more experienced co-workers that were offering cut-rate deals, I garnered more respect and support, had higher client satisfaction, and almost every client I had decided to stay in my book of business during transitions.
Charge a lot. Be good enough to deserve it. Use that impostor syndrome to up your game.
Part of my issues also were ADHD made it really hard to stay on task and focus but now I'm on meds for that and I'm super focused when I'm in my office, I'm also really neat and orderly around the house lol.
I picked vue because I prefer it's templates to jsx, and I like vuex and it's sort of well documented for use with laravel. But if I hadn't picked vue, I'd have gone with react because of market domination.
I'm currently even thinking of pivoting from laravel to node based backends because it seems js devs make all the $$... and I'm not so locked into laravel that I can't move or jump to other frameworks.
The more you know the more you can charge...I have many friends who target a specific vertical like Fintech that charge between $100-200/hour for js/node development as freelancers. Working on teams I've made around $35/hr, solo depending on the client I've pitched 40-60... I work w/ a lot of small businesses who that's on the high end for them --they're used to wordpress devs at $25 or less per hour on upwork.
Clojure being a bit obscure though, I think freelance would be harder to secure, but a full-time gig at a shop/agency or startup who's apps are built on that framework would be easier, as long as you have a good portfolio and very active github showing activity w/ that.
What industries do you understand? How can you add business value?
How do you pay for housing in SF with $900/mo or less?
If it's a standard 40 hour work week then I agree - it's much higher than I thought.
Not to mention, good waiters know about food, wine, spirits and have the soft skills required to put up with people who frequent restaurants.
Anyhow, barrier to entry is a bad excuse. Education does not equal a good living.
> Education does not equal a good living
No but it is heavily correlated with one.
There are plenty of restaurants that will hire an 18 year old with no experience and literally no qualifications to be a waiter. Lots of places when they are looking for experienced staff just hire anyone who had any waiting experience. They aren't nearly as picky as development managers.
I don't know of any software companies that will just hire an 18 year old to write their code without any training or experience. Without a 4 year degree I've seen it take people usually a year or longer of spending all of their free time coding to get their first coding job.
But if you think it's as easy to get your first waiting job as software engineering job(which is very different from my friends experience who has done both), what do you think is the cause of the wage discrepancy?
And they'll likely be working in a chain restaurant barely making more than minimum wage, not breaking $20K per year.
> Lots of places when they are looking for experienced staff just hire anyone who had any waiting experience.
And again, waiters in such a situation will likely not be making much money.
To actually make $60K or more as a waiter, you need to have selling ability, wine knowledge and the skills to get into a better restaurant. You likely won't see anywhere close to this until you have 5 or more years of good experience (not unlike getting a traditional education).
If you're working at Chili's (or equivalent), lets say the average person spends $30. You serve 30 people in a night, that's $900 in sales (18% is $160). Now let's say you work in a high end steakhouse, steaks can run $50 each, appetizers $25 each, and then there's wine. Bottles can run anywhere from $50 to thousands. But let's say you sell a $120 bottle, which is a pretty common price-point in those types of restaurants. For a table of 2, 2 appetizers, 2 steaks and that bottle of wine adds up to $135/per person. Times 30 people per night, around $4K in sales, with tips being $780 (although, in reality, some of that goes to your support staff - bussers, host, sommelier).
Anyhow no, a coder won't get a great job right away. And a server won't get a lucrative job right away. You still need to build up to that point in the restaurant industry. You can't just do what cooks and waiters do at places like Eleven Madison Park, Benu, Saison, etc... without lots of training and experience.
So why shouldn't it be a possibility for a restaurant worker to make a 'professional' income?
I'm not arguing that a restaurant worker shouldn't make a professional income, I'm arguing why they don't.
Do you think it's a conspiracy by restaurant owners to keep down wages?
Wow. Or you could actually pay them a living wage that doesn’t require public subsidy. If this were Walmart making this statement they would be crucified.
If you are a single parent with two children you get the same net income at $30,000 as at $80,0000 due to benefits getting cut off above $30,000/year income.
The logical policy would perhaps be to equalize income to a certain treshold depending on available funds and budget on a particular year. This would also make investments in transits and housing more stable for everyone involved, simplyfing business decisions and quite possibly increase long term profitability.
It has this effect, but I'd blame the need to simplify over malevolence.
SF's below market rate housing is a great example of a huge welfare cliff. Make under $60k? You can get a 1 bedroom for $1600/month. Don't? Join everyone else fighting at $3k/month or what not.
So yah, it's a bit ridiculous that we have a system where someone making $59k does better than $70k.
But it's really hard to administer everything as a phase-out system, especially with non-cash benefits. (currently the apartments are required to charge X rent.. so what should happen to the person making $70k/year?)
Hence, these blunt-edge qualifications.
Sounds like SF should experiment with marginal rent, based on how marginal tax rates work. Something like: landlords charge a base $x rent, if you make above $50K a bit more is added one, make above $60K a bit more is added, etc. That was the person making $1 over some arbitrary cutoff isn't much worse off.
They should ask they employer to only pay them $59k?
The original paper is interesting for a few reasons. First, it identifies the problem on page 15 as steep drop offs in some welfare programs, instead of a more tapered reduction in benefits. Second, it's apparent that the linked image is the most extreme scenario - which applies to only a small segment of the population. Indeed, once you look at the 2-parent household example on page 30, the cliff is much less severe. In the end the paper recommends giving individual states more power to set benefits in a way that tapers off the benefit received and removes the welfare cliff.
What neither of these sources mention is the other, tried and true way to address the problem: making many of these benefits universal. The obvious example is healthcare, where those making 30k/year and 120k+/year get access to the same public system. But other public benefits like public childcare are not unheard of.
It's a problem if you have children to support.
Paying restaurant workers a 2-3x living wage is a fine idea except that it would raise the price of a pork chop to $45 and close the restaurant. Darn macroeconomics!
I'm not sure it is technology folks or millennials, but I find there are increasing amounts of people who want the "best of" everything...shoes, falafel you name it. People aren't okay with just a "good experience", they want the best experience. As a result, I think there are plenty of people who aren't very forgiving. Especially if you eat out regularly and have a lot of things to compare it to.
Oh yeah and the housing situation is broken.
A similar problem with sky rocketing housing cost occurred in the 70's True rent control was established in the communities that needed it and the threat of it in other communities stabilized prices. And California 1972-1995 is unambiguously a success story. In '95 Costa-Hawkins passed, and prices have been rising faster than the 1970-1995 period ever since. With an accompanying rise in homelessness.
Particularly interesting about Costa-Hawkins, it was soundly defeated when written as proposition measure and only passed the legislature by one vote and with strong backing from the real estate industry. But today it has somehow become politically impossible to repeal. Unless California has become a lot more conservative since 95, it is clear money in politics and political advertising are to blame.
Rent control, which Costa-Hawkins limits, is a form of artificial price controls that remove a bunch of housing inventory and the incentives to create more. But it's a mere footnote in the margin of Prop 13, a state wide regime that has been in place twice as long and has the effect of removing a bunch of housing inventory and the incentives to create more.
New York has had rent control for most of the 20th century with 2 million units still under rent control. Yet it has plenty of development.
And as I point out, housing prices rose slower and housing supply was greater before Costa-Hawkins than they are now.
Furthermore, renters favor rent control while landlords oppose it. So whatever the mechanisms, clearly it benefits renters at the expense of landlords, clearly by reducing housing costs.
And while it is definitely worth adding as much housing as possible, all new housing will price at the top of the market. And at this moment there are thousands of high end units with vacancy in SF and essentially no low priced. So clearly this does not relive pressure on middle or low end housing.
Repealing prop 13 would raise revenue, much of it from large land holders (of which Howard Jarvis was one) so that's nice. It would lower mortgage payments by the amount which property taxes rise thereby converting some mortgage interest into tax revenue. So that's nice. And it makes it easier for new buyers by driving those who can't afford the higher property tax out of their homes. The advantage of this is less clear.
The main problem is that it is difficult for people to believe that which is in their financial interest to disbelieve.
this is a questionable line of reasoning. it's not uncommon for people to unknowingly support policies that don't actually benefit them.
the only group of people who rent control clearly benefits are people who already have leases. it's not at all obvious that it helps new renters or people who want to move to a different place at all. it seems plausible at least that people in the business of renting buildings (ie landlords) are the group with the most information about the market, and are therefore in the best position to see the distortion.
The presumption of democracy is that this is a minority of cases. To suppose it is the case here is to assume that the less likely is happening here. And assume so on an apparently evidence free theory about the effects of a single pricing policy.
>it seems plausible at least that people in the business of renting buildings (ie landlords) are the group with the most information about the market, and are therefore in the best position to see the distortion.
And so are not voting against their interest when they oppose rent control. Being as rent is rentier income, it is zero-sum, and so is to the disadvantage of tenants.
Could you point to the evidence that you think disproves this?
Before Costa-Hawkins and the widespread repeal of rent control ordinances, there was less of a housing crisis than after its passage.
Third, and most importantly, this is a misrepresentation of New York's situation gross enough to border on willful deception.
Per this , there are only 38K units in NYC that are rent controlled, and rent control only applies to buildings built pre-1947. An additional 987K units are rent stabilized due to either being built between 1947 and 1974 or been included in buildings otherwise filled with market rate units by developers nudged in that direction by tax incentives (8% of rent stabilized stock), which is probably mildly inefficient but doesn't stand in the way of development. The majority of units are market rate, and there's no rent control requirements standing in the way of building market rate units.
>First, correlation is not causation. Second, NYC isn't necessarily a panacea.
I do not claim rent control _causes_ growth, I claim it has no distinct effect. And I do not claim that NYC is a good or bad place. I do not care. Growth continued in-spite of rent control therefore rent control does not reverse growth.
Indeed from 1920 to 1929 all units were susceptible to compete control over their pricing yet the 1920s were a decade of maximum growth. So again, rent control did not kill housing growth.
If for some reason NYC is dismissed as an example, Berkeley too has experienced continuous housing growth. As has Santa Monica. Repeated cases where rent control did not revers growth. And if those are dismissed, California before Costa-Hawkins had a higher rate of housing growth than after. So again, control did not reverse growth.
It is endlessly repeated that rent control reduces inventory, so there should be many examples and no counter examples. Instead we find the opposite. Indeed, where is there any case where rent control drove positive growth negative?
>border on willful deception
Is there any evidence, even theoretical, or any circumstance, however hypothetical, future or past, that could possibly dissuade you of the proposition that "rent control reduces inventory"?
Can you supply counter-evidence to that claim?
One problem with assuming a claim true until dis-proven is that a perfectly reasonable but opposite conjectures can also be produced. For example: "units which are on the market at a profitable rate are not removed from the market solely because the rate of increase in profit is constrained; profitable business tend remain in business if the profit remains at lest the same"
Another example conjecture, for which there is evidence: "the market will only produce housing at the highest price range for a given area unless subsidized or required by law to do otherwise." So affordable housing will not be freely built whether rent controlled or not.
IMO, it'd be best to have some positive proof before firmly committing to any claim.
Also, there is no mention of trying to raise the prices of their products in order to pay their employees a living wage. I guess that could mean you go out of business if your competition offers a similar product but doesn't raise prices. But I would personally be ok with that. Otherwise what's the service you're really providing? Guilt free eating for your customers who you shield from what those prices are paying the welfare dependent cook? I'm ok with not being in that business.
SF needs to adopt more Japanese style ordering machines. You choose and pay up front. When you are done you just leave. It's beautiful.
Sure, a few places that have those machines have tables but it's still a different vibe from a restaurant.
The bigger issue with those particular machines is they aren't compatible with western or in particular USA culture. Japanese generally don't ask for exceptions. Westerners often ask for tons of exceptions and substitutions either for medical reasons, religion reasons, personal convictions, or preference.
Go sit down, order from kiosk at table (or from kiosk up front). Panera for instance pretty much does this now.
It seems to work. We Americans can adapt!
SF needs to adopt more Japanese style ordering machines, density, public transit...
I went there last night. Looked like there was one guy working by himself. He poured my drink and gave me a buzzer. When my food was ready, I went back to pick it up.
It looked pretty clear that the owners figured the cost of the pager system was cheaper than having a second person working.
This is at an indoor soccer place, where he could have somebody from the front desk help cover when he needs to use the restroom, etc. Cooking is mostly putting stuff into a deep fryer.
At a different restaurant, the pager system still might mean going from cashier, cook, and runner to just cashier and cook.
I feel like North American restaurants are only willing to implement these with awful touchscreen UX, like the McDonald's touchscreen displays.
I don't know how the economics work out in Japan. I'm sure a large part is cultural and shared knowledge.
Maybe there's an opportunity for vendors of Japanese ticketing machines to jump into the San Francisco market??
It's the supermarket self-checkout UX horrible -> I'm automatically treated as a criminal because I can't checkout the next item before bagging the first. I have two hands darnit!
My annoyances are particularly as compared to Japanese-style ordering machines, which in my experience are simple, reliable, fast, and easy to use. My complaints, off the top of my head:
* Responsiveness to touch feels about a decade behind consumer capacitive touch displays.
* Gratuitous animations are slow.
* For a simple order where you know exactly what you want, there are far too many steps. (IIRC, for a black coffee, the button tapping flow goes something like this: English -> Hot Beverages -> Coffee -> Small -> Add to Cart -> Checkout -> Paying with card -> Paying with Bank card.) And you have to deal with the slow/bad touch response and animations for every one of these screens.
* There's no way to avoid the machine spitting out a BPA-covered thermal paper receipt. (Other than the receipt dispensation being out of order, which happens pretty frequently.)
> It's the supermarket self-checkout UX horrible
Oh, we have our own egregious example of that up in Canada, where the largest grocery chain in the country got rid of most of the text on self-checkouts in favour of just icons: https://www.blogto.com/tech/2018/05/loblaws-self-checkout-sy...
You shouldn't have to waste mental bandwidth on that needless bullshit - the only reasons are price point sleaze.
Personally, I prefer the ticketing/ordering machine. Katz's Deli in NYC famously uses a ticketing system.
Maybe the state of the restaurant economy is fine – I don't doubt that – but what about the service staff who make it up and work there daily? Or is the solution just to get a job in tech?
If we're advocating for market-based approaches, though: lower the cost of housing by building more housing, and building it fast. Both affordable and market rate. That would solve a lot of the Bay Area's problems.
Economics is a tool we can use to improve our society in equitable ways, not some omniscient diety we have to worship blindly.
And that’s still my belief after studying economics, too.
Increasing supply of housing, of kids who can perform high wage jobs, etc. The prices coming down will be a marker of successful efforts to make society more equitable.
And if everyone wants to live on the California coastal region though, since you can only shift the supply curve of ideal real estate so much without affecting its ideal-ness and then it becomes a problem of how to triage, which thus far has been letting people who can afford it, pay for it. Only other option I see is some type of random lottery.
Family and friends. Support networks are vital for every human.
Familiarity with local transportation. SF/the Bay Area’s bus and rail network makes it possible to live without the expense of a car, a necessity in most other cities in the US
Professional networks and contacts, which exist even for blue-collar workers, and, admittedly with no data to back this claim up, may be more localized for someone who doesn’t hold a college degree and hence doesn’t have a name or reputation to fall back on when starting from a clean slate.
Demographics. Sure, many places may be cheaper to live, but most of them are definitely not as welcoming or safe as San Francisco for, say, a trans woman of color or a gay white male
And, last but not least (unless you think everything must have some quantifiable value that is): sentimentality. Would you really like to be forced out of your home involuntarily?
If you take one of these people out of their community they grew up in and throw them somewhere in the middle of the Midwest, do you really think they would thrive there lacking everything they had in San Francisco? Do you think displacing the problem until it's out of sight is both sustainable and humane? It's a fallacy to think the majority of people who can't afford to live there are the one's moving there – it's usually the peoples whose livelihoods were long established there that are being forced out.
A much simpler solution to trying to tackle all of these problems at once is to, well, build more housing.
Make a better product that the market will reward, and then either go high volume and lower costs or go high price lower volume for a premium product and increase your margins. Either way, you have to have a viable business model that works for the market as it exists not some fantasy market that the author things it should be. No one is saying rents in sf aren’t high, or that there aren’t real problems like the author is pointing out. There is a crisis of affordability. The question is, can your business model work in those conditions? Sounds like the answer is no. Sorry to be harsh, but the market is harsh. That’s the point.
Wow, the charitable impulses here are overwhelming. You'll pay him more, as long as it doesn't lift him out of poverty. Wow. Wow.
If you want more staff, pay staff more. This easy equation has been understood for thousands of years but business owners find it difficult to comprehend when it is their business.
If a salary increase makes him ineligible for the services that he's using to stay in the city, the higher salary could be an effective cut in pay.
While it's possible to pay him a large enough salary to make up for those services, it's likely more than the business can afford.
I wouldn't call that innovative. Innovative would be paying a fixed salaray which allows your staff to live in SF without relying on tips.
Others have done it in the US too. In lots of countries the world over, tipping is a plus, not a requirement.
I personally think that to get zoning approval to build an office tower in this area, you should need to get someone to agree to build an apartment tower nearby with a similar number of units. I mean, I'm not saying they need to be owned by the same people or that those apartments will be occupied only by people who work in that office building, but you need housing nearby where there are jobs.
Incidentally, I think the young new-money transplants that the author trashes in her article are likely to be more sympathetic on this issue than SF native homeowners.
The next recession is going to be brutal.
The problem is vastly reduced if you can shift healthcare costs from the unfunded pensions to single payer or Medicare for all, I think that’s likely to happen in the next 20 years.
> Cheryl Young, an economist for Trulia, found that in nearby San Francisco, only 0.1% of restaurant staff can find affordable housing in the city, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment at an insane $3,447.
$80,000 is vastly too much pay for restaurant servers.
It's understandable that if one-bedroom rent in the bad part of town is $2447 that restaurants simply can't exist in this economy. That's just the way it is.
It probably doesn't help that San Francisco has been shooting themselves in the foot over housing for years. This link from a couple weeks ago has a lot of details on that: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18778496.
If the author meant 2+ hours round trip: Lots of tech employees making 200k+ do this regularly. For example, driving from your house to the Fremont BART station and taking the train into downtown San Francisco can easily take 1 hour and 15 minutes one way.
If the author meant 2+ hours one way: There are affordable areas outside of San Francisco's borders that have a reasonable commute. This is especially true if you're willing to have roommates, although that would be more difficult if you have four children like one of the employees mentioned in the article. Oakland comes to mind - you can take the BART from Oakland to the Mission (where the restaurant in the article is located) in ~35 minutes.
While I do think that there is a housing issue in the Bay Area, I don't think the lines you quoted from the article are fair.
At most you could claim: "A worker in food service with family will not be able to afford living in SF, as a restaurant will not be able to pay the needed salary without raising prices above what the market will bear"
Here you go: https://techcrunch.com/2014/04/14/sf-housing/
All the numbers and data have gotten worse in 2014.
Oh yeah, and SF's onerous rules are making it even harder to expand the housing supply: https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2018/12/19/hou...
High-paying small businesses, especially when employees do not have children to support, do fine. It's not like you see mass retail vacancy in SF.
I can understand why people with valuable skillsets are willing to balance the cost of commuting from their dream homestead to their place of work but I can't see how this system works for those on the bottom rungs of the societal ladder.
Long commute times makes it far more difficult to hire. Why wouldn't an employer care about that?
Me: Think about what you just said.
My takeaway from the article is that all "middle class luxury" businesses are slowly being priced out of SF, which is a non-issue for everyone living outside of that bubble but should be of enormous concern to those banking on the future success of the area. Eventually no one will want to move there for a price employers can afford to pay. In the grander scope of things, I'm actually supportive of the concept of fast food and cheap dine-out businesses going under because the habits people form around them are killing us as a people.
But on to the main point. It seems obvious Bay Area restaurant prices need to come up to keep pace with everything else costing more. But if you're going to charge more, you make it part of the price. You don't tack on an "extra" charge of any kind; that's madness, and sends the wrong message psychologically to the customer. The same people complaining about a service charge will gladly pay a higher base price exactly equal to that charge. It makes them feel "upscale." Paying a service charge makes them feel penalized. Or something. Anyway it sounds like the type of thing that has reasoning or an explanation attached to it. You want to be in a business where people pay more, and either the reason/explanation is obvious, or even better, there is no explanation and they just pay more anyway. Like Apple. But either way, you don't want to be in the business of explaining/justifying a charge, ever.
It's tough to make money? Your workers can't survive? The food sucks?
Charge more. Pay the workers more. Make better food. Nothing about "the economics of a small business" prevent this.
You may still fail. The macroeconomics of the Bay Area are difficult. But you'll fail for sure if you under-charge, under-pay, and under-produce in complete disregard of those economic conditions. In a tough market it's always the mediocre who fail first. But if you survive, and enough other restaurants fail, eventually the few that survive will be able to... you guessed it, charge even more, pay their workers even more, and make even better food.
tl;dr: Hot water is cheap!