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3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

Good find.

From the article:

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In some cases, not only did the surcharge money go back into owners' pockets, but employees were denied health care altogether...

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Wow. That's just COLD.

about 5 hours ago
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

Bye-bye Omelette Parlor (Main St., Santa Monica), hello...

I was curious about the breakfast hours as well, and am curious to see what their a.m. menu will be like. It'll be interesting to see if they draw as large a brunch crowd as the Omelette Parlor did.

And YES, the name prompted that very same association for me. "Bare" is just a really off-putting word in this context. Eek.

about 8 hours ago
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

Bye-bye Omelette Parlor (Main St., Santa Monica), hello...

...Bareburger.

http://www.bareburger.com/

Well, I suppose Main St. could do worse than a chain hamburger establishment, but I'm not sure it adds any new vim or vigor to the (perhaps already over-saturated) burger trade on the Westside.

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From the local online rag:

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Coming before the [Planning] commission for the first time is New York-based “gourmet burger” operator Bareburger, which plans to open a restaurant at the former Omelette Parlor location on Main Street.

No exterior changes are planned for the building except for “minor modifications” to the outdoor patio, according to the staff report.

Bareburger plans for an 89-seat restaurant that would be open Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Beer, wine and distilled spirits would be available during all business hours.

...

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(I'm assuming that they will also be open Friday and Saturday, despite the news article omitting those days of the week from the operating schedule.)

about 12 hours ago
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

You know it. The Three Amigas will be throwin' gang signs when we meet: Westsiiiiiiiide represent! (hands forming a big 'W').

And that ain't no joke (please don't sue me for copyright infringement).

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

Ok, whew...I sometimes get excited and garble my message unintentionally in a rush to post, and I would hate to have anything I say sit sideways with one of my favorite 'hounds.

I think you, westsidegal, and I should break bread together and talk about "My Hollywood" once we've all finished reading it. :-) Somewhere on Montana Avenue, in keeping with the book's locale.

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

And thus, the CH "Ladies Who Lunch" Book Club is born. I'm going to re-read it myself.

Lola the nanny is such a classic character. As much as I usually dislike serial novels, I wish Simpson would write a follow-up and continue the story just so I could get more of Lola's droll observations on the L.A. scene.

Sep 18, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

Oh, cool. Thanks for the rec. I just put it on hold at my local lending library.

It will be bittersweet to see Mr. Gandolfini's final role...

Sep 18, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

I certainly didn't mean to imply anything negative about how others compensate those who work for them. It's a personal decision, based on individual factors. In my case, my "outsourcing" takes the form of occasional, one-off tasks, vs. an ongoing relationship. I wouldn't characterize the help I receive as domestic help in the generally accepted sense -- it's more of an odd-job type deal.

I respect your position, your circumstances, and the choices you make. Vive la différence!

Sep 18, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

That's an interesting case -- I'd have to think of how I'd compensate for it (I do my own laundry, so it's strictly theoretical).

e.g. Would I pay only for the time the person is handling my clothes (putting in the washer/dryer, folding, etc.)? Or for the time they sat and watched the clothes spin, if they were also doing others' laundry?

I don't outsource much -- mainly stuff like hauling away old furniture -- so my real-world use cases are pretty limited. I'm less generous than I'm making it sound, for sure. Just your average self-interested chump, really.

Sep 18, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

Westsidegal (and latindancer, and anyone else who has a deep interest in the relationship between domestic workers and the families they help), if you are ever in need of a really beautifully written (and quite funny) look at the topic, I'd like to recommend Mona Simpson's "My Hollywood." It also happens to be a fine send-up of a certain slice of Westside culture (Montana Ave-adjacent, no less), with lots of local specificity. You might get a kick out of it.

It took her 10 years to write, and the TLC she put into it really shows. Damn book made me cry...it's very moving.

Here's the NY Times review:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/boo...

Sep 18, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

Just as an aside to this discussion, and riffing off of some of your themes, Mr. T:

I try to make sure anyone who helps me handle tasks that I could do myself makes about the same hourly wage that I do for my professional work (which, when I'm working at the top of my game, isn't chump change). You would not believe (or maybe you would) the amount of flack I get from other people who feel I am "over-paying" these people who make my life easier. Why shouldn't I? They are freeing up my time to work at my chosen trade, and/or to relax so I can be rested and ready to rock when I go back to work.

It's not noblesse oblige; it's just respect for their time (and my own).

It also helps me keep my head on straight, and encourages me to clean up my own messes, and to live within my means, time-wise; rather than live some sort of unmanageable lifestyle where I have to outsource normal daily tasks on a regular basis to support my Big Important Life.

(Just thinking aloud here...)

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

a213b is making a literary reference: specifically, to the character of Ignatius J. Reilly in John Kennedy Toole's comedic masterpiece, "A Confederacy of Dunces".

If you've not read it, you might really get a kick out of it. It has some chow-worthy food themes, even.

It's readily available at a lending library or used bookseller near you (please support your local mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar purveyor of literature, if possible; Amazon can kiss my lily-white be-hind for what they are doing to the publishing industry).

(And keeping it topical with the thread: "Confederacy" features a sub-plot involving labor-organizing rabble-rousing.)

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

Soften up.

Sep 15, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area
1

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

"This is nothing more than a piss and moan thread."

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I disagree. I think there's been some interesting back-and-forth as folks try to wrap their minds around this topic, and what it means to us as restaurant patrons.

I understand that you are disappointed that others don't share your same point-of-view on the subject, and that you've been unable to convince them to see things your way, but I don't think that merits a dismissal of the discussion.

I would also suggest that some of your participation in this thread might be fairly characterized as pissing and moaning, so I'm not sure why you object to the tone and content of the thread in that regard.

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

"I guess some people feel they are entitled to eat in a restaurant, whether they can afford it or not."

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I didn't read that in any of the responses here -- I'm not getting the sense that anyone is claiming that the 3% charge is making an otherwise affordable-to-them restaurant suddenly unaffordable, and/or that they would be reducing their tip by 3% to keep it affordable. But I might've missed something...

My impression is that some of our well-heeled 'hounds are objecting to the 3% for other reasons -- mainly, that it is line-item'd rather than folded into the menu prices, and that the restauranteurs sound (to some) like they are making a show of largesse.

(Among other objections.)

But I'm not seeing folks grousing about the affordability...

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

I'm comfortable betting money that it will happen, and happen with enough regularity to be an issue for servers. I'm basing this belief on the evidence of my own senses (what I've seen and heard in restaurants), the stories I've heard firsthand from servers re: customer 'tudes, and postings I've read online in forums written by servers.

However, I would be delighted to be wrong.

Sep 10, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

I feel badly for all the servers who are going to be getting an earful from disgruntled customers who are peeved at seeing the new surcharge on their checks. It creates a super awkward, uncomfortable dynamic for both the customer who asks to have the charge removed, and the server who has to respond to that request politely and professionally.

Servers are on the front lines and will be taking the heat every shift they work. I'm sure there will be jerk customers who go off on rants about "entitlement" and "subsidies" and "handouts" and so on...while the server has to stand there and take it.

I mean, what is the server supposed to say, "I'm so sorry, I apologize..."?

That should NOT be something they have to take on, above and beyond their normal responsibilities.

Fold the cost into the menu prices. Doing so will protect the servers, and preserve the server-customer relationship.

L.A. Dish of the Month, September 2014: OFFAL

Those look really tasty -- the texture of the breading came out great.

I'd dip those bad boys in some bleu cheese dressing (though they would be mighty fine as-is, too).

(Bet the beignets went down real smooth with a cup of coffee...ahh.)

L.A. Dish of the Month, August 2014: COCKTAILS and Bar Food

That's the one.

I've lived in the area forever, and watching the transformation of rough-and-tumble Rose Ave into a dining destination in the past few years has been a little startling. I'm just glad the La Isla Bonita truck is standing its ground.

Also interesting to see dumpy Lincoln Blvd. starting to become more of a going-out destination. It's still one of the fugliest streets around, but at least there's some movement afoot. I wonder how long the mysterious and vaguely menacing Great Western Hoagie will remain in place...

Sep 07, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

L.A. Dish of the Month, August 2014: COCKTAILS and Bar Food

It's quite the scene. I was in there one day, and over the public address system came an announcement:

"Would the owner of a black Prius..."

...and I swear, every other head looked up from what they were doing.

(Prius was apparently parked in the clearly marked Fire Lane. Gotta love that entitlement!).

I usually hit up the 99 Cents Only store next door to cleanse my psyche's palate after shopping at Whole Foods. That 99 Cents store is a really great scene, too, for entirely different reasons.

Sep 07, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

L.A. Dish of the Month, September 2014: OFFAL

More offal for the rest of us.

Dismissing foods that are staples of many cultures as being "disgusting" is narrow-minded, provincial, and frankly a rather childish outburst.

Don't like offal? Fine. Don't eat it. But please don't throw a tantrum here at the adult table.

L.A. Dish of the Month, August 2014: COCKTAILS and Bar Food

Honestly, as a Santa Monica gal, some days I feel like a walking cliche. I was at Whole Foods groping a pile of kale next to a lady in yoga pants, and I just started laughing (at myself, mostly). I sure hope they re-open that Tommy's soon somewhere nearby so I can balance out my yin/yang energy with a big ol' greasy pile of chili cheese fries to go with that bunch of kale...

Sep 07, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

L.A. Dish of the Month, August 2014: COCKTAILS and Bar Food

Late review, but on the strength of maudies5's recommendation, I finally made it to Tavern for a Sunday afternoon happy hour late in August. The food was really good! We enjoyed all of it. My favorites were the dates and the chicken. I also really liked the lamb meatballs, but felt the price was a little higher than I'd like for the portion size.

The gentleman serving us was spaced out, distant, and non-communicative. He was off in his own world. But everyone has an off day, and my sense was that he was struggling with something that had nothing to do with us, so we didn't take it personally.

I also really enjoyed the people watching, esp. the clothing and personal styling. Not sure why, but it just struck my eye in a pleasing way.

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

I have been ineligible for health benefits for ten years; and due to pre-existing conditions, have been denied coverage for most of that time. Courtesy of the ACA, I now enjoy affordable, excellent care. It's hugely improved my daily quality of life.

Given my druthers, the restaurants would pay their employees a sufficient wage to allow them (the employees) to join the grand social experiment that is the ACA, and individually choose the health plan that best suits their needs. Some, like me, might opt to "go big" and get a Platinum plan; others might opt for the Bronze plan (or if they are young enough, the catastrophic-only option). In either case, they would be ensuring continuity of care for themselves by separating their coverage from their employment. They won't feel tied to their job to keep the same plan/doctors on their company-provided insurance. This approach gives the individual more agency over their health care choices.

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

Running a few numbers here:

A Platinum individual plan via the Covered California insurance exchange costs me about $450/month. And I'm a middle-agedy woman, so my premium is most likely higher than many restaurant service professionals, who are generally considerably younger.

$450/month is 3% of $15,000. A waiter who works 30 hours a week will need to be serving about $125/hour worth of food and drink to hit that break-even point for the restaurant. Obviously, if they work more than 30 hours a week, that hourly nut is lower.

Based on the menu prices at the restaurants participating in this health insurance surcharge, I'm guessing that a typical server is generating significantly more than $125/hour in gross receipts.

Unless my math is off (always a possibility, and please correct me if so), the restaurants will be accumulating an excessive surplus via the 3% tax, unless their per-employee insurance charges are significantly higher than what is available on the exchange.

(Again, that $450/month figure I cited is for a really great plan, no deductible, full coverage, no waiting periods or exclusions, cheap co-pays, for a middle-aged person.)

Something doesn't add up.

Edit: I just realized that the 3% needs to cover all staff -- not just the waiters. So perhaps it does in fact add up. Sorry about that.

Sep 02, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

"In addition, to avoid any misconceptions, we as a group pledge to post total transparency on our websites by the end of the first quarter of each year for the previous calendar year showing the total that was collected for employee benefit surcharges the previous year, how it was spent, and in the case of a surplus how every dollar of that surplus will be applied to employee benefits."

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I'm intrigued by the level of disclosure they are promising. It requires that they reveal some interesting data about their business operations -- gross receipts, e.g. -- data that I would've assumed they would want to keep on the down-low for a variety of reasons.

I'm also curious if there isn't some issue with applying this special tax to alcohol sales, since alcohol sales (as I understand it) is sort of a special beast. Could a liquor store add a line item to the purchase of booze to cover their employee health insurance costs, for example? I know a liquor store is not a restaurant, so it may not be a valid comparison, but I'm just wondering if there isn't some sort of government compliance issue in adding a special surcharge to alcohol purchases in general.

Sep 02, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

"Those ingredient costs have increased astronomically recently so we’re already struggling with working creatively to keep menu prices down and don’t feel it’s right to try to factor health care costs into menu prices as well. We’d rather keep our menu costs as an accurate refection of our ingredient prices so that customers know that if we have to raise them it’s because we can’t avoid passing on our increased costs."

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Someone help me out here. If ingredient costs are rising "astronomically," and "we'd rather keep our menu costs as an accurate refection of our ingredient prices," then why aren't those menu prices rising astronomically (i.e., "accurately") to reflect the true cost of doing business using those particular ingredients?

I am 100% onboard with all workers being insured, healthy, and happy; I am 100% onboard with paying more for my food to see that happen; I am zero percent interested in hearing goofy justifications for line-iteming it. Hell, raise the prices 5% and offer additional benefits. I'll pay it. Just don't insult my intelligence.

3% healthcare charge: coming to more receipts near you

Funnel Mill coffee/tea emporium in Santa Monica has a similar policy. They don't accept tips. But you can donate to a dog-rescue organization, I believe. Which I don't do. Nothing against our furry friends and those who rehome them, but: I would rather have the option to share my earnings (via tips) with the humans who are earning their livelihoods and upping the quality of my life by making me delicious drinks.

It's my hope that a decent portion of their high-ish drink prices goes to any (non-owner) folks working the counter. That made-from-scratch chai is out of this world, and is very labor intensive (not to mention the care with which it is served at the table...I love the service there).

Sep 02, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

Santa Monica booze news

I'm just a bored neighborhood busybody Googling Santa Monica news on an idle holiday afternoon. :-)

You can read the news item here:

http://smdp.com/planning-commission-a...

Sep 01, 2014
spoonlicker in Los Angeles Area

Santa Monica booze news

The Planning Commission approved some interesting liquor licenses recently:

The new Starbucks on Main St. at Olympic (near Tongva Park in the new development) will have booze service after 4 p.m. as part of the Starbucks Evenings thing.

The Tar and Roses fella is opening a new restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd at 7th -- to be called the Santa Monica Yacht Club. Booze served until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday; till 1 a.m. all other days. (Can't wait to see the food menu for this one!)

And as mentioned in yogachik's post re: the transformation of Callahan's into a Misfit group restaurant, that venue will be serving alcohol until 10 p.m. only, per the Planning Commission.

(The new owners of the former Omelette Parlor space have their liquor permit hearing soon, so it will be interesting to see what comes of that. Stay tuned...)