Town Square

Post a New Topic

Local restaurateurs battle labor challenges

Original post made on Mar 11, 2017

Last year, Omar Piña's Menlo Park restaurant, Mama Coco, was so short staffed, he had to return to the kitchen for several months. His wife often came in to help serve food.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, March 11, 2017, 10:02 AM

Comments (20)

11 people like this
Posted by Martin Lamarque
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 11, 2017 at 8:39 pm

Great article. Thank you.

Unfortunately, for the restaurant industry so much development has been a double-edged sword: Scores of tech employees with lots of money to spend, and lots of new restaurants competing with each other to cater to them.

If owners of restaurants themselves are having a hard time affording housing, it is easy to imagine what low-wage employees are going through.

An article focused on those employees would be a good follow up to this story.


17 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2017 at 8:08 am

FYI. You don't just have to be in the food business to feel the pain. Most shop owners work in their stores anyway, sometime without any pay, If you own a business you can't just sit at home & watch the money roll in. Not only are pay scales going up, but also are rents, health insurance, workman's comp. etc !! With parking at a premium in some of the towns, no wonder people are finding shopping online easier. Where does this circle end ? I think it is important for people to support their favorite local shops, food or otherwise or we will lose out "downtowns"


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 12, 2017 at 8:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Very informative article - Thanks.


8 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2017 at 7:09 pm

I agree. It's a shame that workers need to live so far away from their places of work and that many of them are paying bridge tolls. I don't have a solution but certainly would like to see a few more restaurants opening in Menlo Park. We desperately need a really good seafood restaurant...not just a place which simply sells fish retail. What can we do to those greedy retail property owners in Menlo Park??? Do they really need the money?


10 people like this
Posted by Srini
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Good article. A real dilemma. The came the comment from "local". Imagine, a landlord charging market value for rent. Hey, local, go out and buy a property, and then you can subsidize the rent for your tenant. You can be the martyr you want everybody esle to be. I'm sure if you were in business, would you charge market value for your products or services?


6 people like this
Posted by Greedy Property Owners
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 13, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Maybe Local can take out a loan, mortgage everything he/she has in the hopes to turn a profit on your investment. Better yet, how about overtipping so that workers can leave in the area. No one is stopping you from giving away your money. Why not try it?


8 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 13, 2017 at 12:59 pm

"Local" seems to feel strongly that property owners are greedy and their money should be taken from them and used in ways that "Local" approves of. I, in turn, feel that "Local"'s money should be taken from him or her, and used in ways that I approve of. For example, we could mount an educational campaign about why socialism and communism are harmful to society.


7 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 13, 2017 at 1:16 pm

@local here's the solution, Build more housing. It is the one thing no one really wants to do, but that is the solution. The Peninsula has courted offices and their workers for decades without building enough housing or infrastructure. This is one the consequences.

side note - no one 'desperately' needs a seafood restaurant. What people do desperately need are affordable (not low income) housing and decent wages.


6 people like this
Posted by Legalize Housing
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 13, 2017 at 9:48 pm

How is retail rent even related to this article? The whole point is about the high cost of living of the employees themselves. Build more housing, at all levels!


9 people like this
Posted by market rent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2017 at 12:18 am


I rented a 3 bedroom one and a half bath house 7 years ago to a young lady who supports her child and mom. She owns a restaraunt, works many hours and mom takes care of her daughter. They keep the house clean and have only complained once about a clogged drain. While the rent is way under market I see it as a win win. BTW I am not wealthy and if I charged more 50% would go to the government automatically, I think this is money better spent.

I know a couple other people who do the same thing

Just saying if you can afford it pay it forward.


2 people like this
Posted by PV resident
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 14, 2017 at 6:31 am

There are 2 "local" comments. They don't even sound like the same person who wrote the comments. #1 is in touch w/ reality & #2 sounds like one of those landlords. I think #1 makes more sense.


2 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 14, 2017 at 7:33 am

pogo is a registered user.

We are fortunate to live in an area that is thriving.

Facebook, Apple and Google are the most successful companies in the world. They are growing at fantastic rates. They are hiring people and the surrounding communities will grow and expand with them.

As people flow into our region to fill these jobs - and fill the jobs that service these new employees (like restaurant servers, line cooks and bussers) - it obviously puts pressure on housing prices. It would be difficult for anyone to miss the massive buildings being constructed to house this influx of new residents. Rents rise as this demand outstrips our supply. But eventually, supply catches up and we will witness a correction.

This growth, while inconvenient for many, is certainly preferable to the depression that many cities and towns in our country are experiencing. I'd rather be building apartments to accommodate new, highly trained and well paid software engineers than figuring out what to do with abandoned KMarts and their laid-off employees.


5 people like this
Posted by My 2 cents
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 14, 2017 at 6:12 pm

It's obvious that supply has not been keeping up with supply, as the housing crisis has been mostly increasing for over 20 straight years (with a dip in each recession).

How long are we supposed to wait for housing supply to catch up? Another 20, 50, 100 years? Can my young kids ever afford to live here? Doubtful, even with a great education. Privilege passes to those that inherit.

Society needs contributors across all industries and pay grades, not just highly trained engineers. Who will teach, serve, protect, build and far more if all we have are engineers? I prefer a society with artists, writers, craftsman, chefs, and more in the mix.

The greedy landlord title applies primarily to long-term owners that have small fixed costs, low taxes, and yet increase residential or commercial rents to rates far above what most people can pay. They're cashing in. I understand why they do it, but it has a huge, negative cost. In such cases the title is deserved. It's within their rights, but it's still greedy.


4 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 14, 2017 at 6:38 pm

pogo is a registered user.

"Who will teach, serve, protect, build and far more if all we have are engineers? I prefer a society with artists, writers, craftsman, chefs, and more in the mix."

I agree, of course and fortunately, economics and the laws of supply and demand apply equally to them. As these people become more scarce, their wages will increase as we have to pay more to get them to do these jobs.


2 people like this
Posted by Srini
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2017 at 12:46 pm

My 2 Cents: Many landlords go for many years without a positive cash flow, hoping that both property values and rents increase in their later years. If they do, their gamble paid off. If not, are you willing to subsidize their miscalculation, just as you are suggesting they do for their tenants now?


Like this comment
Posted by Many?
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 15, 2017 at 12:50 pm

"Many landlords go for many years without a positive cash flow"

Many? Can ya get a little more specific?

Many people say....


2 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 16, 2017 at 3:19 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

If true, why have so many vacant spaces in the downtown?


10 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Mar 20, 2017 at 4:49 pm

What Pogo calls a housing "inconvenience" has been negatively life changing and devastating for many thousands of residents and former residents in this area. I'm a residential landlord that has been happy to not charge market rate rent. Some of the worst commercial and residential landlords I've had to do business with are in Menlo Park and Palo Alto.


7 people like this
Posted by My 2 cents
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 21, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Yes, landlords that have extremely low fixed costs should NOT be charging market rent and driving people homeless or out of the region.

Unless they want to be known as Trumpettes. Profit at all cost. Humans are disposable.

We are in a crisis. This is NOT business as usual.


Like this comment
Posted by Housing glut will fix it
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2017 at 12:25 am


What we have is a jobs glut with respect to housing. We need a housing glut.

Unless and until more of us adopt a YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) attitude, this problem will only get worse.

It's hard to do, but imagine a housing glut ... prices and rents are forced down.

Contrary to concern-troll NIMBYs that scream about anything that isn't below market rate (i.e. subsidized by someone) ... even upscale apartments help. It's easy to see why: without new housing units to absorb people with money, those people are going to live where they want by outbidding those with less for the existing housing stock. Voila, you get rising rents and displacement of the lowest income tenants.

Build, baby build! Redwood City is the shining example of what needs to happen up and down the Caltrain/ECR corridor.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Fu Lam Mum shutters temporarily in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 6 comments | 3,155 views

How Does Silicon Valley’s Culture Affect Your Marriage?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 628 views

 

Readers' Choice ballot is here

It’s time to decide what local business is worthy of the title “Almanac Readers' Choice” — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 29th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 19th issue of The Almanac.

VOTE HERE