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You Can’t Have Your Lunch and Eat it Too

Update: A couple of SF supervisors are lobbing up a law that would ban employee cafeterias from new office buildings. This is a totally backwards and ridiculous idea. That said, I stick by my take below. We don’t need a law. But we need techies to become a part of what’s left of the rest of the SF community.

Stop eating the lunch catered in your SF tech company cafeteria. In fact, if you happen to run that tech company, stop catering lunches. Stop providing iced-coffee on tap. Stop with the snacks.

Here’s the new plan.

Leave the office. Walk out into the community. Frequent the stores and cafes in your neighborhood. Support the local economy. Be a part of the city.

Here’s why this is important.

First, local delis and restaurants (already challenged by the food truck craze) are getting economically squeezed as tech companies with built-in, full-service restaurants, snack depots, coffee bars, and Kombucha carts replace old school companies that were filled with employees willing to walk beyond their lobby doors for a sip or a bite. Forget the open office plan. What you need is an open office door. We’ve already made it economically impossible for normal people to live in this town. Let’s not make it impossible for them to work here too.

Second, interacting with same cohort of red-eyed techies is not the same as going outside and interacting with your city. You can feel the brewing rage all over the Bay Area as people react to the growing economic divide. (At least, you can feel it if you venture beyond your office walls.) We need to come together as one city. I’m talking about social networking, and not the kind on a screen. I know it seems scary to mix with people in real life. But trust me, it’s not nearly as scary as mixing with them in web comments. And get this; when you’re outside, you’re still vesting.

Third, even if you don’t care about the plight of small businesses or interacting with your city-mates, consider the the recent study that found that the proximity of snacks to beverages increases food consumption in the workplace. Yes, your Red Bull is too close to your Granola Bars. Besides, our entire industry is suffering from a serious Vitamin D deficiency. (And thanks to climate change, it almost never gets foggy here anymore.)

Every day I go to the deli in my building (boldly putting an extra 40 steps on my Fitbit) and listen to the owner complain that fewer and fewer people in our building and in the neighborhood are actually leaving their offices during the day. He sees it as a problem. And he’s right. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for our city. And it’s bad for us.

So let’s do lunch.

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.

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