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Can't compete with free eats

Original post made on Jul 11, 2013

A group of restaurant owners north of Highway 101 say they have been watching their customers disappear as Google expands in the area, bringing them to the brink of closure unless Google is willing to pay for its employees to eat off-campus.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 11, 2013, 11:44 AM

Comments (70)

Posted by Deb
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

You know what would help these businesses? Housing. If more people could live in North Bayshore (beyond Santiago Villa mobile home park), these restaurants would have a steady supply of business 24/7. Too bad City Council cut housing from the plan for the entire area.

Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hard to blame Google on this one. Employee lunches on campus probably take half as much time as when the employees drive to an off-campus restaurant. Since employees are earning $50/hour and up, that extra 30 or 45 minutes of productive time is well worth the cost of free on-campus lunches. What these off-campus restaurants need to do is think about ways to open up branches that are no more than a 5 minute walk from the major Google buildings. Or maybe go in to the catering business.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm

It's Flint, Michigan, circa 1964. Watch & learn.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm

"Kasperzak said Google should be concerned with public opinion.

"Google does need to be concerned about the perception of the public as well as the City Council," Kasperzak said.

Council member Jac Siegel said ...businesses around the city providing services that Google provides on campus are also struggling, especially as rents rise dramatically.
I've gone on record telling Google they are underwhelmingly generous to our city."

Another reason why community organizers should not be on council. Always concerned about perception and not substance. The self-interested, what are you doing for me attitude so I can look good on council is silly.

Google is a private business. It is their business decision to spend millions on providing food, dental care, recreation, car washing, haircuts, etc. on campus for their employees. City council members should not be in the business of selecting which business's survive.

Another example of poor government. Unfortunately it starts at the local level and then permeates the state and federal level.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Google provides free breakfast, lunch and dinner, most people love the sound of this benefit. How does one compete with free?

Posted by Mrs G
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 11, 2013 at 1:23 pm

The impact of this is not only on the restaurants listed in this article but also spreads to the several venues on Castro street.
This is going to end up being a citywide problem. In most cases, the Mountain View residents dine out on the weekends or evenings but the majority of the business and revenue for the restaurants comes from the "lunch crowd".

I sincerely hope the city leaders reconsider the physical footprint of Google and its exponential impact on other business and the community.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm

"Google does need to be concerned about the perception of the public as well as the City Council," Kasperzak said.

He should be more concerned about the perception of him accepting free joyrides in a Google jet.

Posted by JJ
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Up next, MV gas station owners request that Google subsidizes their business because they are losing revenue to Google’s employee shuttle service. Where does it end? MV is much better off with Goggle there than not. Restaurant owners need to learn to assess and adapt to competitive forces just like any other business.

PS: I am not a Google employee.

Posted by Cartman
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Mountain View City Council is Anti Restaurant Business period. Just look at our selection of Places to go. We have no major chains and to many ethnic places. Sunnyvale is way better. Now they are even getting a chick fil a

Posted by Mike
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:23 pm

It is sad for these businesses that circumstances changed and demand dropped in their area. This is a thing that happens to businesses, and a risk you take when you sign a lease.

Similarly, it was sad for buggy-whip makers when the creation of the automobile drove demand for their business down.

In such a situation, one does not typically expect the business that has provided a better alternative to the dying business to provide a subsidy. Sometimes you hear arguments that the government should subsidize the dying business; if anyone should be helping these businesses, it's the city of Mountain View. That doesn't seem like a good use of my tax dollars, though.

Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:29 pm

What is this about the Century Theaters closing? Is this just a scare comment, or is there actually anything factual behind it?

Posted by Anon
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm

The Theater's not going anywhere for a while. Big thanks to the City Council for saying no to housing....those restaurants should have been advocating for more housing in North Bayshore. Besides, Google is under no obligation to help them out, by even meeting with them is already a step above what they are doing. Never mind that Google employs hundreds and thousands of people who then put that money back in the economy.

Posted by AnnaBee
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I think any business has to adjust to local demands that change over time. Businesses must find new ways to attract and retain clients (new, fresh offerings, better decor, etc), or they will go out of business.
On a personal note, I have been to some of the restaurants listed in this article and have not been particularly impressed with the quality of their food - if they aren't offering as quality food as restaurants elsewhere in the city (such as Castro), then I will continue to choose to go downtown to eat. That is not Google's fault, the restaurants need to up their game to survive. It seems silly to me to suggest that a corporation should subsidize or pay for businesses that aren't high quality enough to compete.

Posted by ponderer
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm

It makes you wonder what cities are thinking when they court these large tech companies to build their headquarters in their cities. They get increased traffic from the employees driving to and from the company site. However these company sites are like walled cities. The employees do not need to ever leave the walls after they enter and therefore do not need to ever interact with local retail establishments. If the site is already an abandoned lot, then that may be the only downside. However if the company site displaces people that would normally interact with the local community retail business, then a retail wasteland will appear around it. My employer lets us expense our lunches so the local retailers share in our benefit. More companies should do this.

If I were a finance guy though, the walled city model would seem to be more efficient for the employer and employee. The city brought this problem upon themself.

Posted by hungry
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm

One thing those restaurant owners forget is that their food isn't terribly appealing to begin even if Google subsidizes, there is no promise of increased patronage.

Posted by Zoner
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Local government has the right and responsibility to control land use via zoning and project approval, including concessions from developers that benefit the general population. Examples of this include creating park spaces, upgrading roads and commuting mediation (e.g., giant white buses.)

Google's and other commercial operations' impact on the area are certainly reasonable issues for the council to address. For example, another deterrent to going to the affected businesses is the traffic caused by these companies' employees. Unfortunately, these should have been addressed during the planning approval phase. It is probably too late to fix it in time to save these businesses.

Be careful who you vote for.

Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Looks like those restuarants opened up in the wrong area.

They should close and get into the food services business, then get contracts to feed Google employees on campus.

The idea is to keep your employees on campus. Google won't be paying for them eat off campus. Doesn't make any sense.

Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I think this is a very biased, one-sided view. Personally, I know many Google employees who regularly dines at the restaurants near campus and are happy to pay for their meals.

Some of the businesses in North Bayshore have clearly done well - the Sports Page, for example, is ALWAYS packed in the afternoon/evenings. The Sunny Bowl restaurant has done so well that it's expanded into a larger space.

I think the restaurants need to look at their food/service offerings, and perhaps up their game? If the food is good (and a good value), people will come!

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm

@ Garrett, "Google provides free breakfast, lunch and dinner, most people love the sound of this benefit. How does one compete with free?"

It not free. The company pays for the food and other on campus perks. It all counts towards the total compensation package towards the employees.

Posted by nearby resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm

"Siegel added that it probably won't be too long before the 16-screen Century movie theater in North Bayshore also closes."

And this is why we don't need another movie theater at San Antonio Center, where the old Safeway was. If the Shoreline movie theater is barely hanging on, then how does another one nearby make it?

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I am all those Google employees have to work hard for their free food or not so free food and perks.

Sure beats having to drive, bike or walk down and pay for food out of pocket.

Most important Google keeps all their employees on campus, time is spent being productive and being productive is money.

Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

Good thing Google doesn't provide their employees with free guns and ammo!

@Steve: It wasn't Kasperzak that went for the jet ride.

Posted by What is really needed is here
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:21 pm

What is really needed is a CHICK FIL A!!!!

Posted by CorpGreed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Political Insider's response to Garret's comment is remarkably UN-insightful:

"It[sic] not free. The company pays for the food and other on campus perks. It all counts towards the total compensation package towards the employees."

What Garrett was referring to was the choice that Google employees are making. Take the zero cost to the employee lunch benefit by staying on campus or pay out of their own pocket for dining out. So, yes, it costs Google some money to pay this benefit, but that is a side issue.

If you want to bring the side issue to the forefront, then why is the employee not taxed for this benefit? As you have said, this is part of the employee's "total compensation package"...and should be taxed. Again, Google's business decisions are shortchanging the community.


Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow, Esq.
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm

This falls under unintended consequences. Google executives have a legal requirement to do what is in the best interest of their shareholders (BTW@ I have no financial interest in Google). It appears that Google uses its free meals as a recruiting tool and to minimize employee time away from work. I don’t see Google as trying to shut down restaurants. Didn't City Council just approve another office building for downtown? Won't that make a larger lunch crowd? Go where the business is.

Posted by Jen
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Happy to offer some perspectives as a Google employee.
- I've personally eaten at nearly every one of those restaurants. Some had absolutely abysmal food and service; perhaps that's why they're struggling. One of them is great, and I've not only patronized it many times monthly, but I've also brought friends and posted very positive reviews.
- I believe most Googlers (including the thousands with families) don't eat at Google in the evenings, and most certainly don't eat at Google on the weekends. As you can imagine, this undoubtedly creates a lot of demand for high quality restaurants at every price point.
- I'm a bit surprised by the tone of this article. Frankly, it doesn't feel very balanced to me.

P.S. -- Many of us Googlers not only live in Mountain View (thus putting a lot of money into the community overall), but also spend time volunteering here. We care about the city, we care about the people and small businesses here, and it's frustrating to be the target of blame in this situation.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm

"So, yes, it costs Google some money to pay this benefit, but that is a side issue.If you want to bring the side issue to the forefront, then why is the employee not taxed for this benefit? As you have said, this is part of the employee's "total compensation package"...and should be taxed. Again, Google's business decisions are shortchanging the community."

Its not a small side issue since google employees tradeoff lower wages for tax free perks. They shortchange the community like any other firms that offer tax free perks. Many companies beside Google provide free lunch to employees. Companies that offer no perks will have to offer higher wages to compete.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm

"I've gone on record telling Google they are underwhelmingly generous to our city."

Right. Maybe they should just move to another city. How would you like that, Jack?

Posted by BW
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm

It seems to me that if these restaurant tenants are seeing a reduction in business due to Google then they should be going to their landlords and asking for a reduction in rent.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I think Google does pay something in taxes down the road which I don't know? I don't work for Google nor have any dealing, I can go only go on what I hear in the business news.

I don't think the employees are tied, chained or locked in their offices or expected to stay on campus. They are free to eat, shop and travel to other parts of Mountain View. They aren't tied to Mountain View either but they are welcome to my home town,

Posted by Dee Dee
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Would anyone complain if Google's free wi-fi to the City of Mountain View put a local wi-fi service provider out of business?
Did anyone complain that Google volunteers helped paint our classrooms at Mariano Castro Elementary instead of using your taxpayer dollars to hire a local contractor to do the job?
Did any of you taxpayers complain that Google gave a Million $ grant to the Whisman School District to improve math and education?
I see Google employees volunteering at many Mountain View events.
I personally enjoy the culture that Google brings to Mountain View.
AND - I am NOT a Google employee nor shareholder, but I AM a proud 35-year resident of Mountain View, and dine at least 3 times a week at Castro Street and San Antonio area restaurants. I tried several restaurants in the North Bayshore area and was not impressed.
Perhaps the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce can provide the struggling businesses with business education.

Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 11, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Perhaps a Chick-fil-A in the San Antonio Center---or to have Boston Market come back to Mtn. View.

Posted by Nick
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Replace them all with a Chick-Fil-A, and you'll see a successful restaurant.

Sunnyvale is lucky to have a better City Council; guess we'll all have to drive down El Camino to get the good chicken.

Jac Siegel is an idiot: he wants to rescue mediocre restaurants north of 101, but doesn't want housing there? Complains about rents going up but doesn't want to see housing created -- near the jobs and restaurants -- that would help bring rents down, and bring business to those restaurants? Needs a lesson in economics and common sense.

Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Well I disagree with all of the above comments, they are all unfriendly and anti Mountain View small business. Google should lighten up and find a way to live with and help the restaurants in their area make money. If the restaurants don't live up to the Google food standards they should help them improve and give them help until they do better.

How about holding small Google meetings at these restaurants.

As for Jac Siegel he is trying to keep Mountain View from turning into border to border high rise office buildings, condos and apartments, I wish we had 6 more on the Council like him.

Posted by Angela Hey
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2013 at 12:56 am

The restaurant business is changing but there are opportunities.
1. There are many Meetups that need food delivered - they need innovative finger food at reasonable prices
2. Many engineers in startups work late - they need food delivered to offices
3. The quality of food in the Bay Area is getting better - fresher, Farmers' Market produce, more sophisticated tastes - so restaurants need to change their menus frequently - the same old food doesn't cut it.
4. Food trucks - maybe shutting down a restaurant and having a food truck is an option.
5. Conference space - groups need meeting places that provide a good sound system, big screen, excellent WiFi food and drink - some restaurants could convert to provide conference facilities. Remember the world cafe that had internet on its tables - well something like that - have some free Internet time.
6. Coffee/offices - a recent article noted that coffee shop owners are getting peeved at people who use a cafe as an office - but that is a trend - how can a restaurant be used as a comfy place for collaborators - maybe there's a membership fee and free limited food menu then you get paid for the drinks - think Freemium.
7. Market - many restaurants are poor at marketing - tech companies, organizations and clubs need offsite meetings - maybe a restaurant can host one - I've run alumni groups and I don't think a restaurant has ever contacted me and asked if they could host a dinner for us, for example. There are all kinds of groups that could be invited into a restaurant as if it were an invitation to someone's house or club for dinner.
8. Maybe restaurants should randomly ask a few Googlers to come over and answer questions as to why they do or don't eat there, what they like - how many restaurants ask their customers for menu suggestions and dishes
9. Train chefs on using Epicurious or some website with good food.

Where I see gaps in the market are low fat, fresh, nutritious dishes - too many restaurants fry or grill - rarely do you see plain steamed food. Readers of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential are wary of restaurants.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 12, 2013 at 2:01 am

No reasonable sapient being wants to eat GMO food. Certified organic, preferably local. Then you can compete. Everything else is toxic swill.

Posted by Steven A.
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:28 am

The idea that Google should subsidize greasy tacos, when it provides gourmet, organic food to its employees, seems laughable.

The rent in this city is out of control. How about some attention to that, and less on what kind of gourmet food the Googlers are dining on this week?

Posted by Cassie
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 12, 2013 at 9:14 am

Sounds a bit like extortion. Be a bit creative and dress up your menus. You will then get people there. Don't expect handouts from someone who is successful. Don't resort to the tactics our government does.

Posted by Sarah
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 12, 2013 at 9:29 am

They better make adjustments because when Google moves into their new digs at Moffet Field when completed that area could be a ghost area unless smaller companies take their buildings. You have got to change with the times.

Horse and buggy days lasted only so long.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2013 at 9:35 am

I don't mean to sound anti small business but how does any kind of business compete against lower prices in this case no prices. Big box stores, changing trends in retail, services and food.

See Tower Records, travel agencies and donut shops which I will just name a few.

Would love to see more small useful fun exciting retail, services and food, instead of nail salons, phone stores and fast food.

Posted by FW
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 12, 2013 at 10:28 am

I don't think you can fault Google for providing the extraordinary benefit of free high quality food service for its employees. It is a perk that I'm sure helps attract and retain talent for the company.

I'm a small business owner in the Shoreline Park area near Google (although not a restaurant owner). The challenge AND opportunity in small business is to be able to offer a unique, differentiated product or service that compels customers to do business with you.

I agree with John Igoe in that the restaurant owners have to craft business models that will attract the Google employee. Every small businessman has to adjust to and combat competitive threats or risk going out of business.

Sure, it would be great if Google did more for the local business community but I think they do a lot more than other corporate businesses and I think they made efforts here to help the restaurants although they were not obligated to.

Posted by Kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I agree with FW. Business have to be creative to attract their customers. Google doesn't owe one red cent to these restaurants. I heard that only 10% of business that start out survive past 2-3 yrs. No business is guaranteed success. If the client tell is not there then they need to figure out a better business plan.

About google and taxes, I guess everyone forgot about their offshoring their money in other countries so they don't have to pay US taxes. That was a past Voice article. By doing that guess what, the rest of the American citizens need to make up the difference.

Govt and Big business are in bed together, each trying to figure out how to screw the little guys, while lining their pockets full of gold.

Govt needs to make sure that Big companies pay their share, period. NOT Give them big tax breaks. Until that happens, lowly taxpayer will need to make up the difference.

As for Big Budget HSR garbage, they need to move that money to local schools and roadway fixes and not Beg for property taxes increase.

But all this makes too much sense for the morons in Govt.

That my ranting for today.

Posted by Tiny
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm

"Siegel added that it probably won't be too long before the 16-screen Century movie theater in North Bayshore also closes."

I call Bull---- on that! I have a family member working at the theatre and it's doing just fine, thank you very much. In fact, the marquee for the theatre currently reads "now hiring".

I don't work for Google, but I'm offended that Siegel would try to lay any blame on Google for this 'alleged probable closure'. Does he know how often Google buys out entire showings for their employess? Well I'll tell you......... A LOT! And they aren't buying out prime time viewings of entire theatres either, they fill those seats with their employees during the slowest time of a standard movie day, bringing in valuable revenew without taking away from the standard evening crowds. If the city council is so worried about the impact on this theatre, that is well loved and convenient in our community, then WHY do they desire to put a theatre into the San Antonio Center, where the increased traffic and parking is neither wanted nor can it be logistically supported?

I am a resident of this specific area, and I'll tell you, if the food establishments didn't SUCK, as their neighbor I'd frequent them more often!

PS. Props to Pizzeria Venti, Subway and the Sports Page Bar & Grill, you guys definately DON'T suck and I love you!!

Posted by Anon
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 12, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Restaurants just have count out Google. It's similar to businesses that operate around military bases. There are plenty of places around Silicon Valley in need of lunch restaurants. I've worked at office parks in Santa Clara where the only nearby lunch choices were the greasy canteen or corner McDonalds.

Posted by sp
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Just had dinner at Pizzeria Venti aka Cucina Venti. In the shadow of the dreaded Google. Full dining room, delicious food, happy customers.

Why do restaurants think they need to succeed based on their lunch business? Serve dinner, host happy hour, provide a space for meetings, be creative.

Most importantly, take a page from Cucina Venti and serve great food. A restaurant with good, well priced food served by accommodating staff will be fine.

Posted by Taxing Problem
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2013 at 5:57 pm

This problem has many causes, and not the least of them is the fact that Google is illegally making the free food available without withholding any income tax from the employees' pay checks. The IRS has woken up and provided notice that this practice is under scrutiny. There was some coverage of this back in April, for example: Web Link and Web Link

It is supposed to work like this: Web Link

It boggles the mind that some of the most highly compensated employees in the world get this tax-free benefit at the same time that Congress keeps talking about reducing food stamps and many states are imposing regressive taxes of all sorts on poor people.

It's not as much the quality of the food that is winning Goggle cafeterias customers as it is the tax-free nature and the extra hidden compensation involved for the employee. These restaurants got along just find when previous companies were present. Silicon Graphics operated many of these buildings and they had cafeterias but the employees had to pay for breakfast and lunch, and free dinner was limited specifically to those working extra hours. Also there is the matter of free car detailing, free dry cleaning, free coffeehouse style drinks and snacks, and many other untaxed perqs.

Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I mean, who wants to pay income taxes anyway? The thing is we would all prefer not to, but why should some pay and some get free lunches and other dependable free cost of living subsidies from our employers?

Posted by Luca
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

If those restaurants offered quality food and a good ambiance, they would have business. A stroll down Castro Street in the evening will tell you that good restaurants have more business than ever. The fact is, many of those restaurants are little more than fast food places.

In fact, I am very grateful to Google for raising the quality bar and expectations for restaurants in the area. I am hoping that this will also translate in better restaurants all around.

Furthermore, Google subsidizes lunches so that their employees' lunch breaks stay reasonably short, and so that confidential discussions stay on the Google campus. Google is entirely within its rights to do so, and the fact that somebody believes that they should subsidize local fast foods because nobody wants to eat there any more is beyond comprehension.

Note: I am not a Google employee (but I have been for a while, so I know how much better the food there is, compared to a fast-food place)

Posted by Frank Ski
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 14, 2013 at 11:52 am

Thanks @Jen for lending your comments/perspective as a current Google employee. Your words were not missed on me. :)

The businesses in the area should heed comments and reviews such as yours, and strive to do better...and NOT look for a handout from the Corporate giant.

I, too, frequent local businesses (restaurants included), but not those that I find to be inadequate. For example, I LOVE Overtime Fitness, and appreciated the fact that the owner remains open, even though she faces competition from bigger fitness centers close-by, including free gyms for Google employees.

Thanks again.

Posted by anna
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 14, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Besides Sunnybowl, the other restaurants in that shopping center serve mediocre food. If those places serves better food, I would go there more often for dinner and on the weekends. Improve your yelp rating and non-Google employees will come. Stop blaming Google. Instead take up all the free support Google offered to provide and IMPROVE THE FOOD!

Posted by Food Quality
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm

It's still a mixture of a socialized economy and a free market one up there north of Bayshore. It doesn't matter how much nicer the food is at Google so long as it is still not only free but tax free as well. Google can have its secret discussions on campus just as well with food that pays sales tax and also if the employees pay income tax on the value. Saving the 9% on-site restaurant sales tax is an impact to the local governments as well. These remaining restaurants are contributing this tax revenue.

Only some of the food places are fast food. Some of the nicer places have already gone out of business. It is actually easier for fast food places to survive than for better quality restaurants because they take less space and have less overhead. One place I remember well is the Old Country Deli. That place makes good sandwiches for lunch and their business had dwindled to a trickle. I am not even sure they are still in business.

I contend it is not caused by Google having food on its premises, but rather from the fact that the food is free of any tax. With marginal income tax rates of 40% state and federal and 9% sales tax, these resturants prices look twice as big as they are, whether they are fast food or more expensive. It's all effectively marked up by the thoughtless selfish no-tax policies of Google and other employers in the area who are matching what Google does.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Think of it this way. Lets say most of those buildings were empty, void of employees and visitors. You wouldn't have any need for restaurants.

Also want to mention that MEW is being built up with offices and all those planned apartments on El Camino Real. Take Away, sit down or have food delivered right to your door.

Posted by Food N. Of Bayshore
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Apparently Michael's at Shoreline is one of the eateries suffering a drop off in customers. This place does not mainly serve the companies in the area. It is located at the regional city park at Shoreline. Could be that all the traffic from the business North of 101 is discouraging people from driving up to Shoreline. I wonder if the overall Park visitors have declined? Certainly this traffic is not just from the industrial park that has been mostly taken over by Google. There should be some sort of mass transit connecting the downtown area to N. of Bayshore. There is a nice bike path but it's kind of off to the South versus hooking in over by Rengstorff centrally, and certainly up along San Antonio there is too much traffic to make access to the North of 101 area easy.

I don't think we would have terrible vacancies absent Google. We have seen the square footage basically double up there because Google vacuums up all the land and triples the employee density. We might see a much lower population without Google but this could still see more business for these food places. I'm kind of sick of the way Google has taken over. When they eventually have business issues the entire community will suffer--no diversity of enterprise.

Posted by Roger
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2013 at 8:53 am

I read the same in 2012: Web Link

Maybe the Mountain View Voice and these restaurants have the same problem: serving the same thing all the time.

Posted by Eater
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 15, 2013 at 10:31 am

The reason I stopped going to Michael's is because of the poor quality of food(IMO). I would easily, EASILY go to Michael's for food if it was better. In fact we often wished it was better since it fits so perfectly with a bike ride into Shoreline. Sometimes blame gets put where it doesn't belong. I really don't think Google has influenced my decision to go or not go to Michael's one bit.

Posted by Brown Bag
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm

So if a restaurant in this area goes under, its always Google's fault?

Posted by Food
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Google is displacing all the other businesses and so there are few customers left for these restaurants. That is, there are few customers who do not get tax free gifts of food breakfast lunch and dinner from their employer. It's like asking if a tree falls in the woods with no one to hear it, does it still make a sound? It's bad for the city to have a huge industrial park like that dominated by one single employer, the old style factory town.

Posted by Sales tax
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm

And of course, with 20,000+ tax free meals being served to Google employees and contractors daily in Mountain View, that's a lot of sales tax revenue that doesn't feed the city and state operations.

Posted by Paul
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm

The Italian place across from the movie theater should fix their dishes so everything doesn't have 5 tons of salt. I can't imagine they have a lot of repeat business with the way they overload the salt there. Starbucks on Pear is always crowded. Does Google not have free coffee for their staff??

Posted by John
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm

The movie theatres still sell a lot of food.

Posted by Free food?
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Does Google give free food to all of its contractors? How about the janitors that were demonstrating for better salaries? Feeding for free the $125K programmers is one thing, but what about the $8/hr Janitors?

Posted by Reviews
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm

The Voice could help out local restaurants by doing restaurant reviews of Mountain View establishments. It's been a pet peeve of mine that The Voice seems to do at least half of its reviews on restaurants outside Mountain View. Don't we have hundreds and hundreds of local eateries?

Posted by You are so fooled
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2013 at 7:07 am

Free food at Google tricks a lot of kids into staying on campus. Let the newbies fritter their days away at work. Those who have earned their stars don't hang out at the office all day. Free stuff does not equal work/life balance. Give me a company that embraces flexible work hours and working from home a couple days a week over one that gives me free stuff to keep me chained to THEIR desk. All the Google dad's I know wish they had more time to spend at home with their families. I never want to say "I wish" that...too important. Google might be a good incubator for talent, but the corp work environment is like a hostage house for anyone that has experienced a company that treats its employees like adults. The slaves that rowed the Roman ships got free food at work too.

Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

I would be very sad to see the restaurants in North Shoreline close. As has been mentioned by a few others here, these restaurants have been severely impacted by the fact that Google has been buying up seemingly every bit of property there and displacing the businesses that supported the restaurants. Whether you think the restaurants server good food or not, the bottom line is that they are face with the double-whammy of a shrinking market and the fact that there is no public transportation to get you to and from the area easily.

Most people want to go to restaurants that are within walking distance or are easy to get to, or that are located in energetic areas such as a downtown or a mall. The North Bayshore has none of these advantages. Also, restaurants need lunch business to generate a profit because for most restaurants, dinner service doesn't even get them to the break-even point.

As for Starbucks success, they are an International chain that can spend billions on advertising and developing new products. These restaurants are owned and operated by individuals so to compare them makes no sense.

Lastly, they city should be involved as they approve all the zoning for the businesses. In any area where one business has such a dominant footprint, it is nearly impossible for any other business to compete with them, especially if they are giving away the competing product for free. This is why anti-trust laws were developed, but because of the scale we are talking about here, anti-trust laws do not apply, so the restaurants do not have that protection either. The city and the residents are the only protections they have and if people want to save these businesses, the best way to do that is to write to the City Council about your concerns and to go out of your way to patronize the restaurants!

Jim Neal
Old Mountain View

Posted by Not a Googler
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I work in this area but not for Google. Those of us who are not Googlers find we have to go farther away on days we don't bring our lunch. I love the Country Deli (only open for lunch) and worry that they will be gone soon and leave us mourning for their wonderful caesar salad. For those who suggest that these restaurants should ask their landlords to lower the rent, ironically, Google is the Country Deli's landlord. Maybe driving the deli out of business is their way of clearing the way for more office workers.

Posted by ONE more
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Its much more than just Google taking lunches away, its everything. Its a rush to development and a Moratorium would stop that. We need manufacturing around Pear not housing. Something these restaurants can have a footing to survive. But no. Good news is we can never build housing over there it is in a flood plain that's why no housing is there and should never be built, it is a Global Warming hazard as most areas in Mt View already are. Its acute in North Bayshore. Whew.

Another sore spot Universal Health Care. Business got a break but we the people did not. We will be forced to buy health insurance whether we want it or not. I fully understand the arguments for but why is business getting a pass, Congress gets it for free, and we all will be forced to take it or be stigmatized into Medicaid a witches brew of distasteful health care. We need to do it like Massachusetts but no we are trudging forward because its been shoved in California's face whereas Massachusetts voted for it. I urge everyone in the state to tell their representatives and state government we want 200 insurance companies like Massachusetts has and a health care system for everyone and not this three boxes: 1. Employers, 2. those who can afford it, 3. Medicaid for everyone else. I have not seen health insurance costs go to their target of $100 per month, instead its rising fast. And no mandate? Don't kid yourself its money out of our pockets if we refuse unless we are Native America, on SSI, or a church. The state likes this method, why? Because those taxes will go into their pockets. In year 4 it rises to almost $500 penalty (which is illegal) and if 7 million uninsured continue that is a whopping 3.5 billion dollars the state will take in as a windfall in taxes. Tell your representatives, we want universal health care but done right and Massachusetts did it right.

Like I say its everything and its Snowden who was right, yet the government says he is wrong, who do you trust? I do not trust our government anymore. They are out to get us, just like they are out to get Snowden. Being a US citizen is not what it used to represent, our government just sees us all as serfs to their greed driven wishes.

Posted by Two more
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 20, 2013 at 11:43 am

Its even worse than I suspected. Watch HBO's Gas Land. The country is toast, its far worse than any of us know because we do not allow Fracking in California. I will refuse to ever use any natural gas when and where I can. Where are all the liberals on this, absent, fcing absent. I have friends living in Louisiana telling me they have a natural gas pipeline under their property and can do nothing about it. They are living with our greed in California. We should all be very ashamed. This is an ecological disaster that pales 3 mile island and nothing is being done. It truly is a terrible day to call ourselves citizens.

Posted by Tom Foremski
a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google recently said that perks such as free food are not necessary to recruit top talent. He said no one accepted a job offer at Google because of the work perks...

Web Link

Posted by Laura
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 23, 2013 at 1:34 am

"Free food?" wrote:
> Does Google give free food to all of its contractors?
> How about the janitors that were demonstrating for better salaries?

Absolutely. Anyone with a Google badge that gets them in the buildings can eat at the cafes. I see janitors, security guards, parking attendants, etc. in there all the time.

For me the fact that Google does or doesn't pay taxes on the food benefits matters not a bit. I eat in the cafes because the food is usually good, the ingredients are very high quality, and there is lots of variety. The convenience can't be beat, and it's easy to go to lunch with my friends and co-workers. Having the food on campus lets me spend less time traveling to/from lunch, which means my overall work day can be shorter.

My prescription for the small businesses in North Bayshore would be:

1) Most of the restaurants need to fix their menus and improve their quality. If you're losing business now that you no long have a captive audience, that should be telling you something.

2) Add housing so the businesses aren't completely dependent on office workers. (And so some employees can live in the area and reduce the number of commuters.)

3) Get a sane city council. Mountain View has the most bike-shedding I've ever seen in a city government. (Web Link Why are they trying to cram more and more housing into parts of the city that already have plenty of housing (e.g. the 400 unit apartment complex proposed for the Peets / Rose Market site), when they won't allow it in areas that have none (like North Bayshore)? I'm a new Mountain View resident (just moved from Sunnyvale) and so far I am completely unimpressed and can't see myself voting for any of the current councilmembers.

Laura, Google employee

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Martens-Carmelita

on Sep 26, 2017 at 9:04 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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