Posts Tagged ‘restaurants’

Food stories of the year

Baylen Linnekin asked several food policy wonks what they thought were last year’s and next year’s biggest food stories, and here is part of my reply:

The troubles at Chipotle (whose food I like and buy, despite its dumb anti-GMO stance) brought home two points: local and handmade and every other good thing bring real tradeoffs, and food hazards aren’t just the result of moral laxity fixable by replacing “them” with educated idealists like “us.”

I also predicted that food commentator Mark Bittman, often criticized in this space, would find few takers for his notion of carding kids who want to buy a Coke. Read the whole thing here, and unrelatedly, if you are interested in food issues, check out this Russ Roberts interview with outstanding food scholar Rachel Laudan (earlier).

Tipping as progressive bugaboo

The current trend in social justice circles is to disapprove of tipping, and not coincidentally wage and hour law has been ratcheting up the pressure on tip-based compensation arrangements, both by curtailing employers’ leeway to count tip income as a credit toward regular wages, and by more intense litigation pressure on tip pooling and similar arrangements. Such changes alone will probably not suffice to kill the custom, so we can look forward to continuing innovation in other legal weaponry aimed at it, such as — for instance — theories that tipping aids and abets pay discrimination [Workplace Prof]

“Own A Business with a TV in Portland? Fire Up that Closed Captioning.”

“Every public place in [Portland, Oregon] with a television set will have to display closed captioning during business hours beginning next month, or face the specter of hundreds or thousands in fines.
… advocates for the deaf cheered, and restaurant lobbyists shook their heads in frustration.” The Portland City Council vote was unanimous. [Dirk VanderHart, Portland Mercury]

“Are Proposition 65 Warnings Required for Meat?”

California lawyers, to your battle stations! Now that the World Health Organization has labeled meat (especially preserved/processed meat) as a substance likely to cause cancer, it could be headed for California’s list of probably carcinogenic things that you can be sued for exposing consumers to without posting warning labels or signs. (The Prop 65 regulations formerly covered only “chemicals,” but were lately enlarged to cover “substances” as well.) In this particular case — as in the case of pharmaceuticals — principles of federal pre-emption may shield retailers and manufacturers from liability, because the federal government closely regulates what can be said on packages of meat for human consumption. But what about restaurants and delis? Prop 65 lawsuits in the past have been aimed at sellers of grilled chicken, roasted coffee, and french fries. [Cal Biz Lit]

L.A. eateries adopt surcharge for employee health, get charged with price fixing

Trying, they said, to be responsible employers, a group of Los Angeles restaurants banded together and adopted a 3 percent surcharge on bills to help secure healthcare coverage for their employees. Now San Francisco attorney Daniel Sterrett — who does not deny that the surcharge is going toward the announced purpose of employee healthcare — has filed an intended class-action lawsuit saying the owners have violated California law against price-fixing. [CBS Los Angeles, ABA Journal]

NYC mandates high-salt symbols on chain restaurant menus

Bloomberg-era nannying continues under Mayor Bill de Blasio: “The [New York City] Board of Health voted unanimously to require chain eateries to put salt-shaker emblems on menus to denote dishes with more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium.” [Associated Press] There are several problems with this, beginning with the coercion: it’s not the proper role of government to force itself on the marketplace as a diet and health adviser. The salt guidelines themselves, moreover, are so rigorous in their demands for salt restriction that only one in ten Americans currently succeeds in meeting them; while some persons (notably cardiac patients) can lower their risk by going on a salt-restricted diet, it seems to confer no benefit on many others and may even bring health risks of its own. Aside from breeding “warning fatigue” that encourages consumers to ignore increasingly complicated signage, the measure brings serious compliance costs, especially if restaurants try to introduce new offerings frequently or vary their offerings to reflect local or individual customer preferences. Finally, the de Blasio administration bypassed the City Council (which by design is answerable to the entire city, including consumer and business voters) in favor of going for an edict by the Board of Health. Mayor Bloomberg tried the same tactic with his soda ban, only to see it struck down by the courts.

Last night I discussed the news on Fox News “Special Report” with Bret Baier. Update: here’s a link.

September 2 roundup

  • “Lawyer Threatens Yelp Reviewer With Lawsuit, Is Wrong” [Popehat, related Ken White on cease and desist orders]
  • “Winghouse restaurants only serve chicken wing parts, not the full drummettes, flappers and wingtips combination that traditionally defines a chicken wing, a class action lawsuit claims.” [Courthouse News, links to paywalled document]
  • Claim: what really ails law schools is lack of aggressive PR push. Readers push back in comments [Caron/TaxProf, Joe Patrice]
  • I was hoping Sen. Rand Paul would take a harder line against wildcat public employee strikes [Dave Weigel on Kentucky clerk case]
  • California’s Central Valley hit by ADA mass filings: “Griffiths said the Moore Law Firm has filed [accessibility] complaints against about 200 businesses in Fresno.” [Hanford Sentinel]
  • If the “system is rigged,” it’s not in the way Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders seem to think [Cass Sunstein, Bloomberg View]
  • Up jumps the swagman, files a claim in copyright: origins and ownership chain of “Waltzing Matilda” are murky [Sydney Morning Herald via @ContentLawyer]

Seattle’s “Fight for 15” — in 1907

In 1907, unions helped convince Seattle to enact a 15-cent minimum price for restaurant meals, part of a backlash against inexpensive Japanese-run eateries that were providing unwelcome competition for existing restaurants and unions representing their employees. In San Francisco the same year, a mob attacked and destroyed the 10-cent Horseshoe Restaurant on Folsom Street, causing a diplomatic incident between the United States and Japan [H.D. Miller, Eccentric Culinary History; part 1 of his story]