The Apple of Beef: Big Business Is Welcome, but It Must Not Come with Fries

Acolytes of an older, mom-and-pop-driven mid-Market retail corridor are railing against the latest business to colonize prime real estate at the Ninth Street intersection, using its vast cash reserves to curry favor with the landlord, override zoning controls, and displace a small vegetarian restaurant. Its business model is disruptive, but unlike with other business giants in the area, even the politicians and pro-development evangelists balked when the company made its first power play: Tenderloin housing czar Randy Shaw dubbed it a "terrible deal for mid-Market"; Supervisor Jane Kim introduced new conditional-use permits to deter the San Bernadino-born giant, whose assets were worth more than $35 billion as of last year.

Still, this company promises to bring job opportunities to the innovation economy in San Francisco, albeit on a wage scale lower than the average start-up. (Most of its 1.8 million employees earn minimum wage.) While not vertically integrated, it has a tight grip on its supply chain, and an instantly recognizable brand insignia — one as easy to draw as, and not that different from, a pink mustache. Not to mention its employees frequently interface with the public, even if they use company jargon and arrive to work wearing the same uniforms. So the city may want big business in the corridor, but not when the killer app is a Big Mac.

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