Mountain View trying to curb free meals for tech workers to help businesses

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- There's no such thing as a free lunch. Unless, you work for a large tech company. But now the city of Mountain View has made moves to change the practice of free in house meals. It's an effort to help local restaurants in the area around Facebook's new offices.

The goal for Mountain View city leaders is to make sure the couple thousand employees who will work there actually leave the buildings and go into nearby businesses.

The Milk Pail Market with all of its quaint charm is now dwarfed by two modern office buildings.

"Things have changed a lot even in the short amount of time that I've been around," said Erika Rasmussen, Milk Pail Market manager.

Rasmussen's father started the business 44 years ago, but soon Facebook will be the market's neighbor.

"I think it's a really cool opportunity for us to change how we do our business in a way that kind of brings us into the 21st century," said Rasmussen.

The City of Mountain View is trying to make sure tech giants don't swallow small businesses with their practice of free in house lunches. City Council passed rules restricting the practice of employee cafeterias at the Village at San Antonio Center project.

No food service on a daily basis.

"The company could do a fifty-percent subsidy, but the idea is for them to go out to eat or patronize the businesses," said Margaret Abe-Koga, Mountain View City Council member.

Nearby restaurant managers are pleased.

"It's very good. It's very good," said Mayeli Olvera, Sajj Mediterranean manager.

Sajj Mediterranean is within walking distance of Facebook's office, which is expected to hold 2,000 employees.

"It is easy for everyone. It is maybe, what 10 minutes about," said Olvera.

There was pushback from the developer of the property initially, but City Council says they'll have an opportunity to revisit the issue after it goes into practice.

Abe-Koga says the idea of restricting free lunches came-up during the economic recession. Restaurants that surround Google struggled to survive and came to the City seeking help.

Also of note, Linked In was the original tenant for the Village space. When that deal fell through Facebook stepped-in so this is a general policy aimed at the tech industry not just Facebook.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.