Tag Archives: Restaurants

The Last Fast Food Worker in California

Who will be the last fast food worker in California?

Yesterday, California passed a new law dramatically raising fast food wages.

It sounds like a victory for the working class. But it’s likely to put them out of a job. 


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From Bloomberg:

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the fast food recovery act into law, giving restaurant-chain employees more input over wages and working conditions even after strong protests from the industry.

A study by Harvard Kennedy School and UC San Francisco showed that wages for California’s fast-food workers hover around $16.21 an hour, or 85 cents on the dollar compared with other service sector workers in the state. AB 257 could raise wages as high as $22 an hour next year for chains with 100 or more locations across the US. It’s the first US law of its kind, leading the way for other states.

Let’s see how this will play out at a restaurant. And where better than the oldest McDonald’s in America, in Downey, California?

In business since 1953, the Downey McDonald’s is one of the area’s biggest tourist attractions. And it still serves Big Macs and fries, 7 days a week.

The Downey McDonald’s is open from 6am to 10pm every day. That’s 112 hours a week.

McDonald’s employees in Downey actually do a little better than that $15 minimum wage. They average $16.41 per hour.

Increasing that to $22 means every employee-hour costs $5.59 more. Staffing the restaurant for those 112 hours now costs $128,000 per person per year, instead of $96,000.

Instead of paying that, restaurant owners may hire Flippy

Flippy is a robot from Miso Robotics that runs an entire fry station. It can make french fries, onion rings, and even chicken tenders.

It costs about $36,000 a year. And unlike humans, it never comes in late, gets sick, or tries to unionize.

Flippy can’t do all the jobs in a McDonald’s — yet. But in combination with order kiosks and automated drive through lanes, there may soon be few fast food jobs left. 

Is all this fair? I don’t know. 

But it’s going to happen. And blunt instruments like this law only bring our robot future closer. 

Instead, politicians like Gavin Newsom should focus on helping working class people get more skills. This is a durable path to better wages and a better life.

I hope for a future where humans do stimulating, meaningful work. Let Flippy handle the rest.

What do you think of the California law? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on tech: 

COFFEEBOTS AND THE SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT CUP

GROWING VEGGIES ON MARS

I PITCHED A ROBOT VC

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

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Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $15 on your first order. 

Robot Pizzas and the Future of Fast Food

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Inside a gleaming metal structure the size of a shipping container, robotic arms pull out a disk of dough. They carefully apply tomato sauce, then the cheese.

Pepperoni, anyone?

This store was created by Hyper Robotics, an intriguing startup from Israel that makes automated pizzerias. Its technology is in use today at a Pizza Hut in Israel.

The robot can even cook the pizza, cut it, and put it in a box! But for now, there’s still one employee there to hand the box to the customer.

Hyper Robotics isn’t the first company to attempt robotic pizza. California-based Zume made pizzas autonomously and even baked the pizza en route to you.

But Zume burned cash at a rate of over $10 million a day. Despite a $375 million investment from Softbank in 2018 the company exited the pizza business in early 2020.

The most interesting implications of robotic restaurants may be for the labor force. Over 5 million people work in fast food restaurants in America today.

In a weaker labor market, robotic restaurants could pose a real threat to the livings of working class people. But in today’s world of rock bottom unemployment, the robots may simply be taking a job no one wants.

Many restaurants are cutting hours or reducing service due to a lack of employees. Perhaps if people want to eat pizza but no one wants to make it, robots can help.

Since the pandemic, many former fast food workers have found higher paying jobs at e-commerce fulfillment centers, shipping companies, and the like. For a group of workers that so often struggled, I count this move up the value chain as something to celebrate.

Would you try a robot pizza? And what impact do you think robotics will have on restaurants and the labor market?

Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on tech:

Robot Hands, Vertical Farms, and the Future of Food

Judging a Startup Pitch Competition

Male Contraception With an Ultrasound Device?

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This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been great so far.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me.

Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor.

I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

Manhattan’s Burger Baron

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I’ve been going to this restaurant so often, I might have to move in and save the bus fare.

Schnipper’s in New York City is American food done right. Done with respect.

On Thursday, my wife and I rushed in for the third time in two weeks. From a mouthwatering burger to artistic salads, everything they make uses the best ingredients and technique.

I had a massive, juicy bacon cheeseburger. The meat is incredibly fresh.

It’s telling that even the lettuce isn’t some sad, wilted vegetable. Instead, they use crisp bib lettuce that snaps as you bite into it.

You might even be able to convince yourself the burger is health food.

My wife had a beautiful fried chicken salad. It was topped with beets, sweet corn, and housemade sourdough croutons.

A triumph!

I also heartily recommend the tuna melt. I made sourdough for years and alas, the bread in that sandwich is better than anything I ever produced. 🥲

Schnipper’s also makes an outstanding milkshake. I had sip after sip of the one my wife ordered.

For research purposes.

You’ll notice that the food takes a little longer to come than most fast food places. It’s worth it; they’re actually making your meal from scratch!

For years, I walked past Schnipper’s and smelled ambrosial odors wafting forth. Why I never stopped in until now is beyond me.

Schnipper’s has two locations in midtown Manhattan, both east and west. If you’re in the city, stop in for a reliably outstanding meal.

More on food:

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

Alphabet City’s Best Pizza

The Best Bakery in NYC (It’s Not Levain)

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Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been great so far.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me.

Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor.

I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

Alphabet City’s Best Pizza

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Last week, my wife and I found ourselves in New York’s Alphabet City for reasons obscure. It was dinner time, and we were peckish.

As we crossed 14th street, an inviting sign came into view. It spelled out the two most beautiful words in the English language: Burrata Pizza.

We raced across the street heedlessly, moths to the neon flame.

You know we had to order the signature burrata slice. I accompanied it with a Hawaiian (no Twitter mentions, please).

The missus added a chicken slice. Nontraditional, but intriguing.

We sat outside the restaurant on a bench like true New Yorkers.

As I dug into my slice, the balls of soft burrata burst in my mouth like little water balloons of flavor. The crust was crisped to perfection.

On to the Hawaiian. The slight char on the Canadian bacon really made this pie.

Bravissimo!

One of the things I liked best about Burrata Pizza was the service. The owners are very cordial and make sure your slice comes out piping hot.

This is a joy after receiving far too many lukewarm slices at lesser pizzerias.

If you’re in lower Manhattan with a jones for a pie, I strongly recommend Burrata Pizza!

What are your favorite pizza spots? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

There will be no blog on Monday. I’ll be filming an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!

Have an awesome weekend and see you Tuesday! 🙂

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More on food:

A Frozen Valentine in New York

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

The Best Bakery in NYC (It’s Not Levain)

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been great so far.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me.

Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor.

I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

A Frozen Valentine in New York

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Considerate husbands begin planning Valentine’s Day months in advance.

Flowers are ordered. Reservations made. Wine chilled.

Yeah, I didn’t do any of that. 🙂

So I was left scrambling to find a dinner reservation in New York City on what is probably the busiest night of the year!

The wife and I wound up eating outside in temperatures of 23 degrees. Winter wasn’t going to keep us from the meal of our dreams!

Fortunately, the food at Bar Boulud made the cold an afterthought. I thought I’d share this amazing experience with you guys so you know where to go next year!

The appetizers:

Ora king salmon tarte with avocado, crème fraîche, and caviar. My wife being willing to give me a bite is the definition of true love.

The caviar was the best I’ve ever tasted, with an earthy quality a little like truffles.

Lobster Bisque. Unctuous, delicious. The little bits of lobster swimming in the soup were a nice touch.

The entrees:

Halibut with farro. When I sampled this, I marveled at the perfect, soft flakiness of the fish.

I had never had farro, but with this champagne beurre blanc sauce, I shoveled it in eagerly!

Beef duo. Braised short rib and tenderloin.

The short rib stole the show. It fell apart in my mouth, full of moist, fatty, umami flavor.

Dessert:

An assortment of ice creams for the missus: brown sugar, vanilla, and a pear sorbet.

Every Boulud restaurant has ridiculously good ice cream, made in house. The depth of cream and vanilla bean flavor made the vanilla my favorite.

A dark chocolate entremet for me. Don’t ask me what an entremet is.

All I know is this yummy chocolate mousse, along with hazelnut ice cream and some kind of little chocolate crumbly things, was amazing.

I’ve never seen hazelnut ice cream anywhere else. This needs to be in stores!

If you like Nutella, you’ll love this.


In all, outdoor dining, even in frigid temperatures, was pretty comfortable. A well-built shelter to block the wind plus patio heaters go a long way.

After a tough two years for our little blue planet, I was grateful just to sit down with someone near and dear and enjoy a good meal, both of us healthy. I hope that once this crisis recedes, I can maintain that gratitude.

How was your Valentine’s Day? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

P.S. This place also has the best burger in NYC.

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More on food:

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

The Best Bakery in NYC (It’s Not Levain)

New Jersey’s Jelly Donut Heaven

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been great so far.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me.

Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor.

I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

New Jersey’s Jelly Donut Heaven

I just had a jelly donut. And it changed everything.

You guys are going to start thinking I work for them. I don’t. But I could be persuaded for enough free donuts.

Francesca’s Bakery has locations in Clifton and Pequannock and also pops up at farmer’s markets across New York City. It was at a farmer’s market in midtown that I first encountered their scrumptious baked goods.

As you bite into their jelly donut, your mouth enters a cloud of cinnamon sugar. The outside is crisp and sweet. The inside: pillowy, soft and moist.

When you reach the jelly, you’ll find an intense flavor of fresh strawberries. And don’t worry, they don’t skimp on the jelly.

Other fine offerings from Francesca’s

With Hanukkah coming up, I can’t think of a better place to get the traditional jelly donut. I may be a gentile, but something tells me I’ll be scarfing a few anyway.

Have a great weekend everyone!

More on food:

NJ’s Best Apple Cider Donut

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

The Best Bakery in NYC (It’s Not Levain)

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! 

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

NYC’s Best Chinese Noodles

A wiry young man takes a small baton of dough from a tub. He flattens it and gives it a little stretch. Then, he quickly yanks it out to a length of several feet and dramatically slaps it back down. Whack, whack!

This is Very Fresh Noodles in New York City. Found inside the cavernous Chelsea Market, it’s served chewy, hand pulled noodles to drooling patrons since 2016.

I visited last Friday with my wife. I pretended to pore over the menu, but I knew what my stomach really needed: La Mei Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup.

The bowl was soon in front of me, steaming and filled to the brim. Just picking up the noodles with your chopsticks will whet your appetite. They’re thick, luscious, and glistening from the broth.

I greedily shoveled them into my mouth. The texture and flavor were perfect. The soup was aromatic and spicy, tasting of star anise. The beef is rich, incredibly tender, and falls apart in your mouth. At first I looked for extra chili oil, but soon realized I didn’t need it. These spices have a delayed reaction!

Very Fresh Noodles also has a scorching Dan Dan Mian and numerous vegetarian dishes, including the toothsome mock duck my wife ordered. There is counter seating inside and lots more comfortable seats along the sidewalk, some covered.

I’ve never had better Chinese noodles. If you’re in the area, give it a try!

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone!

More on food:

The Best Bakery in NYC (It’s Not Levain)

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

NJ’s Best Apple Cider Donut

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! 

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

On a quiet side street in Union City, NJ is a small storefront. Inside: some of the best Mexican food in the country.

La Piedra del Sol is run by a lovely family from Oaxaca, Mexico, a region known for its cuisine. While we often think of California or Texas as the best places for Mexican food in America, I submit this may be the best Mexican north of the Rio Grande.

Chips and salsa are no afterthought here. Everything is housemade.

I first tried this wonderful restaurant on a frigid Valentine’s Day night. The shrimp fajitas oozed flavor. The guacamole was creamy and delicious. Simple chips and salsa were an incredible experience: multiple salsas with deep, rich flavors and crispy tortilla wedges, all housemade.

Guacamole served with flair!

Service is attentive and friendly. Everything is done in-house. As the end of our meal came, the owner sent out a delicious tres leches cake, free of charge. It was moist, milky, wonderful. This happened to be one of the last meals out my wife and I had before COVID, and it was memorable.

I visited again on a recent evening and the food was better than ever. I’m very grateful the shutdowns didn’t force this wonderful spot out of business.

La Piedra del Sol is open every day but Sunday and in addition to wallet friendly prices, it’s also BYOB. If you’re in the area, you’d be crazy not to visit.

Have a great weekend everyone!

More on food:

THE BEST BAKERY IN NYC (IT’S NOT LEVAIN)

I ATE THE BEST BURGER OF MY LIFE OUTSIDE IN THE DEAD OF WINTER

HOW I LEARNED TO COOK

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

The Best Bakery in NYC (It’s Not Levain)

One evening, my wife came home and presented a bunch of small, colorful bags. Inside: some of the most delicious baked goods I’ve ever had.

Their outstanding chocolate chip cookie. Don’t worry, I was gentle.

Eclair Bakery, founded by French pastry chef Stephane Pourrez, is on a side street near the United Nations. Despite eight years in the city, it’s fairly obscure, especially compared to famous spots like Levain. But I’ve never had a Levain cookie as delicious as those from Eclair. They’re moist, chewy, and deeply suffused with brown sugar and butter.

Their namesake eclairs are also the best I’ve ever had. A caramel version I tried had a light, airy pastry filled with rich, smooth caramel cream. It was beautiful to look at and even better to eat!

If you’re in New York City, I strongly suggest giving this under-the-radar spot a try!

More on the NYC area:

THE BEST NYC COMEDIANS YOU HAVEN’T SEEN (UNTIL NOW)

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ON LAW & ORDER: SVU

I ATE THE BEST BURGER OF MY LIFE OUTSIDE IN THE DEAD OF WINTER

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Restaurants’ Newest Struggle: Finding Workers

Reopened restaurants are finding it increasingly difficult to find workers:

Capacity restrictions and distancing requirements have drastically cut wages for workers like servers, who rely on tips to make up for an hourly wage at or near the federal tipped minimum of $2.13 in many parts of the country, prompting them to find better-paying work. Others shifted to better-paying jobs in fields that boomed while dining imploded, such as retail fulfillment, especially as companies like Amazon and Target pay or have raised hourly wages to $15.

The problem doesn’t just affect independent or higher-end establishments. Fast-food mega-chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell are pushing to hire thousands of workers in an effort to reopen dining rooms, even holding drive-up spot interviews in parking lots.

More here.

If restaurants are beset by capacity restrictions and closures, impacting your tips, you may be reluctant to return. Especially if you’ve left for a job at, for example, an Amazon fulfillment center, which is never subject to those restrictions and pays a predictable wage. You’re also far more likely to get benefits working for a major company than a small restaurant, which is particularly relevant in the middle of a health crisis.

With e-commerce growing rapidly, I see little incentive for restaurant workers to return. Perhaps the industry will wind up permanently smaller, more automated, or both.

For more on business and the economy, check out these posts:

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Photo: “waiter” by zoetnet is licensed under CC BY 2.0