The gig economy is making it harder to staff restaurants

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For every benefit provided by rideshare apps (convenience most of all), it’s worth considering the sizable trade-offs. This article from SFGate explains how staffing a restaurant has become more difficult in the age of Uber and Lyft, when workers can opt for the more flexible hours of rideshare driving versus the more traditional path of working as a line cook or dishwasher—jobs that usually pay less than driving.

Old Mandarin Islamic, open since 1997 in the Sunset District of San Francisco, is one restaurant that’s hurting from a lack of kitchen staff. SFGate’s Dan Gentile explains that, while entry-level restaurant jobs tend to pay minimum wage, “the average SF [Uber] driver earns $20.45 per hour, with the hardest hustling drivers making over $30.” The owners of Old Mandarin, however, have seen those who started in their kitchen go on to run restaurants of their own, and they consider cooking on a line to be an important step for those who want to make it in the food industry. “Here you get a skill set that helps you in your future, but people don’t look at this long-term these days,” says Shuai Yang, son of owners Feng Wang and Xuqun Yang.


The article brings up a lot of big questions about the restaurant industry’s relationship to technology, from companies like DoorDash taking a cut of the restaurant’s profits to the good Yelp reviews that threaten to overwhelm small family-owned restaurants. Read the whole thing here, and tell us that Old Mandarin’s braised lamb ribs don’t look amazing.