The San Francisco housing market is so absurd that restaurants are putting diners to work because they can't afford to pay workers

Business Insider | 6/26/2018 | Melia Robinson
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Housing in San Francisco is so costly, restaurant workers are leaving the city for more affordable regions, according to a report in The New York Times.

Some of the city's restaurants can't find — or can't afford — front-of-house workers. They're finding solutions for operating without helping hands.

Restaurant - Spots - Diners - Water - Table

Some restaurant that look like full-service spots have diners seat themselves, fetch their own water, bus their table, and more.

There's something different about San Francisco's restaurant scene these days.

Workers

Its workers are vanishing.

A new report in The New York Times posits that in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in America, rising rents and labor costs have forced some restaurants to go without servers. In their absence, diners at popular restaurants such as Souvla and RT Rotisserie seat themselves, fetch their own water, bus their table, and more.

Restauranteurs - Model - Dining

Restauranteurs call it the "fast-fine" or "fine-casual" model of dining.

Part of the problem is that restaurant owners can no longer afford staffing their front-of-house. Commercial rent prices have soared alongside housing costs.

Bay - Area - Shortage - Workers - Place

But the Bay Area also faces a dire shortage of restaurant workers, as those who can't afford to live near their place of work move away to more affordable regions.

Restaurant workers in San Francisco earned a median income of just over $30,000 in 2017. That makes them some of the highest-paid restaurant workers in America, according to a study by real-estate site Trulia. But their income still isn't enough to buy a home.

% - Homes - Market - City - Workers

Approximately 0.1% of homes on the market are affordable for the city's restaurant workers, Trulia found. The median list price in San Francisco was $1.477 million at the time the study was conducted. By comparison, restaurant workers in Detroit can afford 50% of homes on the market, while only 2% of homes are affordable in New York.

"We can sit around here, and we...
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