Bay Area cities take steps to ban companies from opening in-house cafeterias

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Free meals have long been a tasty perk for tech workers. 

Now two Bay Area cities are taking steps to ban big companies from opening up in-house cafeterias. 

The purpose is to encourage those workers to patronize local cafes and restaurants. 

A Microsoft employee we spoke to has a free coffee she got at her workplace cafeteria.

She says she can get all her meals free there. 

“It’s less work for me. I’m more focused, I’m not worried about what I’m going to eat even if I have to go to a restaurant downstairs, I need to think about it, ‘What am I going to eat? Where should I go’ and the price is everything, it’s just a hassle.”

But that hassle-free dining hurts local restaurants in the area. 

The Cadillac Bar on Ninth Street has a few diners during what should be the busy lunch rush, but there are plenty of empty tables. 

Now, San Francisco Supervisors Asha Safai and Aaron Peskin are introducing legislation that would pull the plug on that perk, proposing to change the zoning laws to prohibit businesses from opening in-house cafeterias.

They want to encourage those office workers to go out and buy their lunches outside. 

“We want your employees to get out of the office, we want you to support our small businesses, we want you to interact and add to the cultural vibrancy of our city and we want you to make San Francisco that helps the city moving into the future.”

If passed, it would only affect new companies. 

So companies like Twitter that already have a cafeteria can keep it. 

The owner of a nearby restaurant says some companies like Square have helped out by closing their cafeterias every other Friday. 

“We saw out business increase significantly every other Friday because they don’t have that option to stay open, so we’re hoping that the leaders of these tech companies can actually take a step back and see that their brick vision is progressive, but they just need to adjust that vision now to keep up with how San Francisco’s operating.”

This isn’t an only in San Francisco solution. 

Mountain View recently tweaked their laws to keep Facebook from opening an in-house cafeteria at its campus opening this fall. 

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