Is San Francisco Killing Restaurants?

Is San Francisco killing restaurants?

That’s the question posed by San Francisco Chronicle food editor Michael Bauer. With a slew of taxes, and new wage and sick leave requirements for staff, is the cost of running a restaurant in S.F. too high?

This week, on his official Chronicle blog Between Meals, the food critic took a look at some of the costs San Francisco restaurants are asked to pay. “How about a $200 a year ‘candle’ tax for starters? A $146 propane tax? And then there’s the $146 tent tax.” Additionally, voter approval of local ballot measures that require all city businesses to provide sick leave for employees, and an increase in the minimum wage, means that restaurant operating costs are going up.

Not surprisingly, the post got quite a response—from restaurant owners and patrons alike, all of whom commented anonymously.

Amen. The cost of doing business as a restaurant in SF is the HIGHEST in the country per employee when all the ‘extras’ the City, etc. charge are factored in…. Even the best, best restaurants, excluding a few are only making decent money when you factor in the hours, etc. it takes to make a go of it.

When it comes to this issue, you guys only see those evil people who want to unjustly provide health insurance and fair wages to a sector of the workforce dominated by women and minorities, all renters and all living close to poverty. I see increased competition that will improve the quality of the restaurants that can provide a quality product while taking responsibility for the people who do the work.

There’s a very simple solution to this—just move your restaurant to somewhere cheaper—Oakland, South San Francisco, Livermore, wherever. People will still come if it is good…. There is nothing particularly magical about a San Francisco location.

Do you want only the large corporate restaurants to be able to have restaurants in the City? Or do you want $30 entrees in every restaurant? The City should realize that the restaurant industry is also a deciding factor for conventions, leisure visitors, etc…. Decisions to hold conventions in SF are made everyday because of the vitality of the dining scene. So there. Where is your bread buttered SF City council?

But perhaps the final word comes from Brett, of the blog In Praise of Sardines, who is currently in the process of opening his own restaurant, Olallie, in San Francisco’s Noe Valley. Is he daunted by the slew of taxes being levied against the city’s restaurants? In a word, no. “I know the risks and costs of this business,” he writes, “and yet I still have decided to open a restaurant here…. I love this city too much to even consider doing it anywhere else.”

There might be hope for San Francisco’s restaurants yet.

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