October is Restaurant Appreciation Month in the city of San Francisco. It might seem like every month is Restaurant Appreciation Month around here, but last year, the Board of Supervisors chose October in particular as an occasion to commend food establishments that have contributed to their communities in significant ways.
This year’s honorees are scheduled to be announced at the Supes’ regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct 25. But we got a preview last Friday when Supervisor David Campos stopped by Mission Pie, on Mission at 25th Street, with a commendation for exemplary labor practices.
“People come to San Francisco to enjoy the amazing food,” said Campos. “The gastronomic experience is an important part of the appeal of this city. There are places like Mission Pie that are successful in providing delicious food, and at the same time treating their employees really well. There are some restaurants, in the minority, that don’t do right by their employees, but I think it’s important for us as we combat those practices to recognize those restaurants that are doing things right, not only complying with the law but going beyond it.”
The bakery-café also gets high marks in a pamphlet called “Dining With Justice,” from Young Workers United, whose members interviewed restaurant workers from 35 eateries in San Francisco. Their criteria included fair wage and hour treatment, opportunities for promotion, job satisfaction, concern for worker health and safety, and job security. Eleven other restaurants also made the grade, ranging from El Castillio Taqueria in the Mission to Poesia in the Castro.
Mission Pie, in addition to their regular staff, runs an internship program in cooperation with community-based nonprofits that serve at-risk teens. Co-owner Krystin Rubin has been working in kitchens since she was 13, and wanted to help a new generation of aspiring cooks, bakers, and servers start out on the right track.
“Most young people's first job is a food job, and that job is usually not so great, even degrading,” Rubin said, “and it’s dangerous for all of these young people to have their primary work experience be negative. Your bosses don’t trust you, you’re taken advantage of, very little achievement is expected of you, but you’re expected to fail and cheat and be dishonest.” Rubin says four of their current staff started out as interns, and that the bakery has significantly lower turnover than the industry average, which saves money on training. She hopes more Bay Area food businesses will start paying the same amount of attention to the well-being of their workforce as they do to the sourcing of their ingredients.