Corporate Cafeterias

I did a lot of internships during college, and as a result, I worked for a lot of different companies. I worked for a Fortune 500 company, a quasi-governmental organization, a start-up with 3 employees. I've pretty much experienced the spectrum of workplaces. Some of the places where I worked had caffeterias in the offices, others didn't. Admittedly, the cafeterias were convenient; but ultimately, that might not have been such a great thing.

(from iwouldstay on Flickr)

Not all companies, or all cafeterias, are created equally. An office deep in suburbia, or in an urban wasteland, simply might not have any lunch options within easy walking distance. In these cases, a cafeteria would provide a lunch option that differs from the typical brown bag from home.

But what about a company in a downtown skyscraper? For people that work in these buildings, there are plenty of lunch options within easy walking distance. The cafeteria is one of many options available during the lunch hours.

Even in downtown areas that aren't particularly vibrant, lunch hour is the one time during the day when people actually make their way out onto the street. It's the time of day when downtowns really come alive.

I have a hard time getting behind cafeterias in downtown office buildings. Yes, they're very convenient for office workers; but the food is rarely amazing and the prices aren't much cheaper than what you'd find at a typical lunch spot. From an urbanist's perspective, a cafeteria that incentivizes people to stay in their offices all day isn't good for street life. It isn't good for local businesses, and it isn't good for the city.


    On October 12, 2010 Peter Smith said...

    Makes me wonder about some of the upper-echelon companies here in the Valley -- Google, Facebook, and a plethora of other companies that offer full or part-time lunches/dinners/breakfasts/etc. Maybe they could also do deals w/ local businesses so that everyone benefits from those business's presence?


    I've always heard that the main reason the high tech high flyers serve food in the building is that they prefer that the employees stay in the building because they work more hours that way.