A city without service

San Francisco is the open minded, laid back city that fosters start-ups and the gig-economy. Think Uber, Facebook, ancestry. It’s also known for fantastic restaurants.

But San Francisco has a problem. San Francisco is now one of the most expensive places to live in America and that has had an impact on the economy.

Rents have increased, labour costs have soared, which has left its beautiful restaurants with expensive items on the menu unable to find waiters to wait on their customers, so the customers are having to wait on themselves.

Runners will bring your food to your table, but you’ll need to fetch your own water and clear the table whilst paying $22 for pan-roasted salmon and $11 a cocktail.

In July this year the minimum wage in San Francisco will hit $15 an hour and anywhere with more than 20 employees are required to pay health care, sick leave and parental leave. Pot washers can earn up to $19 an hour and because of the labour laws in California, servers can make at least the minimum wage with tips, unlike most of their in peers other states in the US.

Economist at the University of California, Berkeley, Enrico Moretti, estimates that when housing rises by 10 per cent the price of local services increases by six per cent. Since 2012 the average home price in San Francisco has doubled.

Counter service is on the rise in the UK but the US were not the trailblazers. Norway has some of the highest median wages in the world. Many of their restaurants rely on counter service.

Surely the answer is for restaurants to raise their prices. However there is a ceiling. Traci Des Jardins from French restaurant Jardinière said they tried raising prices, but people still spent the same, reducing courses or skipping an extra glass of wine.

Jardinière now offers a counter service during lunch. Souvla, another exciting restaurant in the Bay Area, only offers counter service for their spit-fired meat and Greek wine.

When cities boom and their economy takes off, it becomes difficult for those who keep the city moving to live and work there, ultimately having an impact on the service that customers receive.

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