Saturday, June 11, 2011

Raise your hands if you saw this coming....

Re: Common Table.

KTVZ has an article about some of the neighbors of Common Table being unhappy.

Leaving aside the merits of the idea. (Like I'm going to come out against feeding the poor....) This seemed predictable from the very start. I know when I first heard the idea, I sort of wondered -- hmmmm, how is that going to work?

It doesn't seem like all that long ago that the city was exploring ideas of ways to discourage loitering downtown.

Instead, we decided to offer free meals.

Again, without being against the idea of feeding the down and out, I have some questions.

Is there an actual need for a gourmet soup kitchen? A four star fine dining experience for the hungry?

What exactly is being accomplished?

Not that there is anything wrong with it.

I think the title of the restaurant tells us that it's meant as a meeting place for the average citizen, the well-heeled citizen, and the temporarily disconvenienced, and the permanently down and out? Fair enough.

Not that there is anything wrong with it....

The other possibility is that it's meant to be a way to earn enough money to pay for the free meals. Though I have to wonder if -- by the time you subtract the cost of goods and the overhead -- they wouldn't do just as well with donations.

Finally, (again I am not against the idea of feeding people who are down on their luck), I do question the mingling of for-profit and for-charity in the same businesses.

As people who read this blog know, I don't like the idea of for-profit businesses being subsidized. Or of charity businesses attempting to earn profits. (By this, I mean employees being paid beyond what they would be paid in real life -- Blue Cross executives being paid millions, for instance.)

Overall, it just seems like a strange concept. A way to do-good in a congenial setting?

Not that there is anything wrong with it

I've talked to two business owners who are REALLY unhappy with what's been happening in and around the building and who are planning to leave -- the story mentions a third business who has already left.

Anyway, it's possible the landlords will find enough businesses to fill the spaces around Common Table, and no harm will be done. Or it's possible that the place will empty out.

In that sense, the marketplace will decide.

I'll just leave with the comment: there is a time and place for everything.

Based on the comments over on KTVZ -- let the tar and feathering commence.


H. Bruce Miller said...

I haven't been to Common Table and I haven't been in that part of downtown lately, so I don't know what the situation is like.

But I do know that the downtown merchants tend to panic whenever they see a scruffy-looking character within 50 yards of their stores. And I kinda suspect that's what's going on now.

But I could be wrong.

BTW, how is Common Table "subsidized"?

Duncan McGeary said...

Subsidized is probably the wrong word.

Charging some people and not charging others...

Not that there is anything wrong with it.

Duncan McGeary said...

As I've noticed with the street closures, the public tends to dismiss merchant concerns when it runs against the perceived public interest.

So the merchant just needs to make a decision on whether it is in his best interests to stick around or not.

I've decided that -- all things being equal -- I can live with street closures, at the same time I try to advocate not increasing them.

Same with this -- I can't second guess the impact of this on the other businesses...

Duncan McGeary said...

Well, you know, customers can be ....skittish.

But, yeah, you just have to live with that. If it wasn't this, it might be something else.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Charging some people and not charging others... Not that there is anything wrong with it."

No, I don't see how there could be anything wrong with it. The people who pay are subsidizing meals for people who can't. If they don't want to do that, they don't have to patronize the joint. It's voluntary.

I admit it's an unconventional business model, but why does that bother you so much?

Anonymous said...

" A four star fine dining experience for the hungry?"

And why not. Most of those poor f#@ckers have a rough enough time of it.

Mrs Elliott and I have been to Common Table (wassamatter Bruce, too elitist to go there?) and I liked the energy and ambition.