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IndustryWire: LA Times Confronts SF Health Care Issue

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Though the entire health care hoopla is dying down up here, the LA Times dedicated 1,000 words this morning to the Healthy SF mandate. For the most, it's a fairly-comprehensive summary of the situation, from Mayor PlumpJack's enthusiastic support to the Supreme Court appeals, and finally, to the ways in which various restaurateurs are dealing with the increased costs. Some tidbits to be salvaged from the wreckage:

San Francisco diners are apparently OK with the surcharges: "Restaurant patrons so far don't seem to mind footing the bill for expanded healthcare. 'We haven't noticed it, so I guess it's not that big a deal,' said Stacy Wong, a Tres Agaves customer waiting with friends to lunch on Jalisco-style fish tacos."

Restaurateurs are not: "But restaurateurs are irate, saying they eke out livelihoods on profit margins as slim as two pennies on the dollar. The program is burdensome for the city's 4,200 eateries ..."

Newsom, acknowledging the law's shortcomings: "No one argues that our program is perfect, but it's better than anywhere else ... City Hall is not going to back away."

Perhaps the most enlightening item in the article involves Charles Phan. While other big-name eateries in San Francisco either tack on a 4-5% surcharge (Zuni, Waterbar et al.) or a flat per-dinner fee (Delfina, TWO), the Slanted Door slyly, slightly upped prices, without the sob stories on the bottom of the menus:

But other top restaurants, such as the Slanted Door, a Vietnamese haute-cuisine hot spot, said they simply hiked food prices, preferring not to alert patrons to the new costs.

Charles Phan, executive chef and owner of the 200-seat venue with a splendid view of the Bay Bridge, said that "customers will look at surcharges and say, 'Why do I have to pay for that?' "

Now, despite what this particular article suggests regarding diners' nonplussed reactions to the surcharges (more than a few people have expressed dismay over the surcharge games being played by many restaurants), we'd venture to say that the Slanted Door's way of handling the situation is probably preferable to the dining public, but are curious to hear your thoughts on the matter. And simply for the sake of playing devil's advocate, why is Mayor Newsom supporting a program that he acknowledges is less than perfect?

Oh, and mark your calendars: the US Court of Appeals will hear the Golden Gate Restaurant Association's lawsuit on April 17th.
· Social policy on the menu [LAT]
· Health Care Ordinance Infects Restaurant Industry [BAB]
· Full Health Care Crisis Coverage [~ESF~]

Your thoughts in the comments field, please. How should restaurants deal with the rising costs, specifically regarding the health care mandates?

The Slanted Door

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