In the San Francisco Chronicle last week was an article about the Google cafeterias — five gourmet restaurants on the Google campus in Mountain View.
With its dedication to providing free and largely healthful, organic and artisan-produced meals three times a day to its employees, Google may well be leading the way in corporate food-service programs
Besides the impact on the local economy and food producers, Google is creating a new model for how corporate cafeterias serve their employees, both by the wide variety of offerings and the creative freedom allowed its chefs.
The article explains that Google runs its own food service, rather than contracting it out, as do most companies. I'd like to think that it is, indeed, "creating a new model", but I doubt it. IBM used to run its own, back when I started working here in 1977, and the cafeteria gave both good food (if not the sumptuous array described for "Cafe 150" at Google) and good value (not free, but close to it). So this isn't so much "new" as "retro", and I wonder whether Google might eventually have to give in to the financial realities and turn their on-campus versions of Chez Panisse over to catering companies. For now, though, I bet it's a nice recruiting tool.
Alas, the cafeteria in my building is mundane, in the "flipping burgers and cranking out volumes of food" mold (as quoted in the article). It's not for lack of caring or trying; our (contracted) cafeteria staff do care, and do try, but they have limited money and resources to work with and we wind up with increasingly dull fare for increasingly higher prices (though it's still cheaper and faster than going out). More significant than who runs the place is the fact that Google is pumping money into it, and that's what I question the longevity of.
But, hey, why don't we all show this article to those who manage our cafeteria contracts, and say, "We want this too!"? It might just work!
Food, glorious food,
We're anxious to try it!
Three banquets a day,
Our favourite diet!
Just picture a great big steak,
Fried, roasted or stewed.
Oh, food, wonderful food,
Marvellous food, glorious food!