Oakland, Berkeley, And East Bay News, Events, Restaurants, Music, & Arts
As a falafel fiend (and alternative press newshound) living in the "financially innovative" CARTOPIA of Portland, Ore aka Po'Town, I appreciate the coverage of brave Gail Lillian's attempt to make a go of both her LIBA Falafel food cart and her brick & mortar restaurant. However, reporter Luke Tsai is way off-base to jump on the national Chamber of Commerce line that LABOR SHORTAGES are causing U.S. businesses to suffer. THERE IS NO LABOR SHORTAGE for any type of job in our diverse U.S.
Up here in Po'town one of our otherwise admirable alternative weeklies, namely the PORTLAND MERCURY (sister indie of Seattle's alt weekly THE STRANGER) also ran a food feature this week by Andrea Damewood trying to explain the latest "financial innovation" of 'Pop-ups' in the restaurant biz by blaming this phantom LABOR SHORTAGE. Damewood explains:
"The result is a ballooning number of pop-ups, carts, and other low-cost entries into the food scene, like Cho's hybrid restaurant Han Oak, or Mae, chef Maya Lovelace's twice-weekly Southern feast run out of the back of Northeast Portland's Old Salt Marketplace."
A Commenter using the moniker GB1 weighed in before me briefly noting:
"The only labor shortage described in the article is line cooks. There are many people looking for work in this city, the easy solution is to train your own line cooks, which restaurants used to do."
My own reply to GB1's concise analysis and response to the national canard of any actual U.S. LABOR SHORTAGE is as follows:
GB1's Comment above about there being NO LABOR SHORTAGE, however, NO LINE COOK training anymore seems about right. Yet, it begs the question: With all the culinary academies turning out graduates, and not much access to start-up capital available, how low is the pay being offered to line cooks?
Not only can nobody live on $9.25 per hour minimum wage in Po'town, but with the remedy we've chosen of phasing in the climb to $15.00 per hour being years away, no current or new venture seems likely to survive to see what a $15.00 minimum wage will mean in 2022, or whenever the few states phasing in token minimum wage increases take effect.
Unlike Seattle, where with the sensible exception of businesses with fewer than 50 employees their $15.00 minimum wage enacted 4 years ago has created more money circulation on the city's streets (unlike the FEDERAL RESERVE's QUANTITATIVE EASING or QE I and II that only fed the banks and other lenders who did not improve cash circulation on Main Street, only on Wall Street). Even the PUGET BUSINESS JOURNAL which cried Cassandra in greeting Seattle-Tacoma Socialist Alternative council member Kshama Sawant when she and her fellow labor activists launched the $15.00 NOW! minimum wage movement, the same PUGET BUSINESS JOURNAL went back after 2 years to study the results and headlined their own admission of error in screaming there'd be a mass exodus of locally-owned businesses from Seattle by declaring "APOCALYPSE NOT."
Moreover, this week's EAST BAY EXPRESS down in Oakland-Berkeley-Richmond-Albany-El Cerrito-Emeryville etc ran the same scare tactic of floating the ridiculous claim of a LABOR SHORTAGE in explaining why food carts are not the low-overhead remedy to the boom\bust cycle of commercial real estate markets. THE EB EXPRESS' reporter Luke Tsai used long-time Oakland food cart and restaurant entrepreneur Gail Lillian as his illustration of why a LABOR SHORTAGE was forcing her to close her popular LIBA FALAFEL food cart. See: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/li…
I support alternative weeklies that try to broaden coverage, but both the MERCURY & EB EXPRESS could use a BUSINESS section that broadens the discussion of failed local businesses to the wider trends of the 1/10th of 1% that can access capital to start up businesses without resorting to Kickstarter friends in shifting the risk of a new venture. Even the mainstream business community, so slow to recognize the Reagan-Bush-Norquist-Wanniski SUPPLY SIDE HOAX, TRICKLE DOWN FALLACIES and the laughable LAFFER CURVE (you can buy used LAFFER CURVES on Ebay autographed by Ted Koppel of ABC's NIGHTLINE which lent Arthur Laffer the credibility to sway even DNC legislators) are, with the possible exception of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback coming around to acknowledge the snake-oil about WHO REALLY CREATES JOBS and who should be able to shift costs & risks to the public while keeping all the profits. Why even SUPPLY SIDERS (except for Gov. Brownback and the GOP field of unfettered capital dreams) are facing the contradiction of cutting costs of LABOR so much over 40 years of Stag-flation on worker wages that DEMAND has dried up because there is no money left for working folks to spend.
All those GLOBAL TRADE DEALS never did create a middle class demanding anything but high-tech weaponry (our last surplus trading export) in kleptocracies or slave-labor states like Mexico and China. DEMAND has never been made up to counter our TRADE DEFICITS from where the NIKE's and other off-shore labor-seekers have gone in shredding our hard-earned Social Contract and reasonable tariff and trade barriers that once made U.S. internal markets, diversified manufacturing base and the growing middle class the envy of the world.
(Creative Commons) Mitch Ritter
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
Nike-Town, Intel-Land LLC
Pheudal Phiephdom of Phil, Ka-ching
In Anti-Trust PERP-E-tuity Throughout the Universe
there is alot of responsibility in being a serviceman/women, we defend and protect, while most just sit on their fat ass and reap the rewards!
I dont give a damn about him or his ideas, I am a strong supporter of the Bill or rights, all of them. I served 23 yrs in the military, and if I could afford a assault weapon I would have one, but I cant, so I keep a AR15
About half-a-century ago advertising agencies came up with the same principle: "sell the sizzle not the steak."
Folks in Oakland who like coffee should look at local coffee importer Sweet Maria's website. You can buy green coffee from all over the world there, roast it at home and have a fine cup at a lower cost than buying grocery store coffee.
One of the major problems with commercially-produced coffee is that it is 'way over-roasted so that it has nothing other than the taste of burnt beans. Then you add milk, sugar and other flavorings to make it palatable.
Obscene first world pricing or not, if coffee was grown commercially in California it would cost as much for 12 ounces as you pay for a good glass of red wine in a 6 ounce cup. Get accustomed to paying more for coffee as the coffee producing world (read: dveloping world) develops and wants what we have had for decades. Namely, a living wage.
Sorry, but I think this is an obscene first world price to pay for a cup of coffee no matter how difficult it is to get it here or how good it tastes. Enough is enough. I had it last year with the "warmed toast" for several dollars story. Leave our coffee excellent but reasonable, say the 99%-ers. Thank you - end of mini-rant.
Go again, Michael. Every restaurant, as you mention, takes a couple months to hit its stride. It's coming up on a year now and the service and most of the food offerings are wonderful. I go all the time and take all my friends. We love it. Don't miss the amazing garlic cucumbers, but don't eat them before a date...unless your date is going to eat them, too!
The veganism of hipster bearded gentrification.
So overrated. I find it so odd that so many people are falling all over themselves to heap praise on this food. Everything at the Butchers Son tastes exactly the same. And does a real NY Deli charge $9+ for a bagel with a couple pathetic toppings?
And while the taqueria does much better, especially with regards to price, the well to do white kids waiting in line kinda takes away the idea that you're magically being transported to Fruitvale...
Glad there is algerian food around , it has been 4 months for me here , struggling to cook algerian recepes, I live in oakland and I will definitely pass by for couscous and mhajeb, I'm from setif by the way , good luck guys and I'm really proud of you
I liked the Greek place, but since now gone, decided to check-out the new. Appreciate that Butcher's Son is giving neighborhood vegans a fun alternative to Herbivore for faux philly cheese steak and other faux meaty goodness. EXCEPT: over-priced AND got a big hair (not mine) in half my sandwich. Was hair of man doing food prep in area behind cash register/ordering counter--YUCK! I didn't say anything at the time because needed to shortly leave and they were in midst of lunch rush. TIP: coffee is free refills if you drink it there. Vegan donuts they make onsite were tasty, not sure how compares to Pepples.
I usually agree with you, Luke, but the Butcher's Son is way overblown. I much preferred the humble Greek place that left - their meatball sub blew this one away.
Estos tacos son una delicia, además están preparados con toda limpieza. Las salsas me encantaron. Arturo
Thanks guys and welcome
I have lived in Oakland for 56 years and I can tell there have been many, many restaurants that have come and gone. The new owner has every right to pursue his own dreams. He bought the building with the intention of opening his own business. What's wrong with that??? As for the Nigerian place, well he needs to find another location if he truly wants to continue. Don't chastise the new owner for wanting to provide some new blood into the neighborhood.
The Popey's at the bottom of Park Blvd. needs a new restaurant (and can probably get a City or OBDC loan to fix it up). There are a few extra spaces around there as well. Close to the lake to boot.
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Place with be closed by the end of the year.
Just like a dozen or more places on Telegraph in that area.
We're not at SF levels of densely to support all the semi-high priced restaurants. You can't walk out of a place like that for two and spend less than 50 with a tip.
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