Poorly typed on iPhone by Matt Rhodes
Ladies and gentlemen:
I have stood in line for a tasty morsel for the last time. All over San Francisco, I see overrated treats commanding ridiculous wait times. Blue Bottle coffee takes Dali-esque melting hours to acquire. The quality of our various ice creams seems to be determined solely by number of minutes brave fanboys are willing to wait in frigid summer temperatures for the sensual satisfaction of highly fattening sugar hitting their dystopian tongues. Why wouldn’t we pay $8 a pint after waiting for 45 minutes? It just makes sense.
Drive or stroll by any eatery that earns more than four stars on Yelp and you’ll find dozens of chilly hipsters conversing madly on the corner, eagerly waiting for their chance to ingest overhyped gastronomic bliss. Never has the blatant conformity of San Franciscan non-conformity looked so bittersweet, like the curvaceous delight of salted caramel at Bi-Rite Ice Creamery, which you can’t have in less than 30 minutes, any time of day.
A great business would be a business that sells stuff to people waiting in lines in San Francisco.
The very existence of a line connotes quality. But I grew up in an America where faster was better, where business success was a simple meritocracy built on pure speed. McDonalds and its faux meats in greasy drawers represented the pinnacle of culinary efficiency, the standard toward which all copycats strived.
In our righteous and rebellious effort to fight the evil trend of fast food, we of the slow movement have gone too far.
Over the years, we have built gorgeous machines to speed up the process of ingesting caffeine, but now the lethargic baristas of Blue Bottle have convinced us that slower is better, that pouring hot water through too few cups is somehow a necessary precursor to tastier coffee. I think it’s time we called it what it is: Slow and stupid from a business standpoint.
Four Barrel down in the Mission has it figured out a little better, with two separate lines and more than one barista. But here still the appetite for slow outweighs the ability to deliver the goods, equaling long lines. Not to mention your chance of being urinated upon in line is greater than 65 percent.
The problem: When too many yuppie geniuses stand on line, they think about all the world’s problems and how they could be solved. We’re like the great coffeehouse intellectuals of a bygone era, except those bright lads and lasses in Vienna and Paris actually drank coffee and therefore generated clear and energetic thoughts and ideas, while we fritter away our Sundays wondering how sweet life would be if we just had our latte and vegan doughnut now.
We childless professionals shouldn’t make every weekend like a self-imposed trip to Disneyland. That’s a different phase in life that we shan’t avoid, so why fast forward toward our future inevitable hell? We should be engorged on the quality of our simple lives, or demand or create new ways to do it faster. We have limited time before our own impending progeny overtake and destroy our souls.
Then we can bring our strollers into long lines at crowded farmers’ markets and small coffee shops to muck things up even worse for the foodie elite.
I want good brunch, and I want it now. But because I live in San Francisco I just can’t have it. This is a great problem for our supposedly free markets. We in San Francisco need to quit looking for and investing in the next Steve Jobs; we need the next Ray Kroc.
Ironically, Chipotle was the brainchild of a disgruntled San Francisco chef who felt we could bring fresh, tasty Mexican fare to the masses, faster. Now, Chipotle represents all that is wrong in America, a stark reminder that there are so few outlets of mid-tier culinary quality that even clueless myrmidons in the strip malls of America are forced to wait for access to delicious grub.
Maybe there’s a reason the economy is in the crapper. Maybe we’ve created a culture of conformity that anoints as our champions too few brands and thus strips us of our ability to spend money at the appropriate velocity.
Maybe I just need to spend less time in line thinking of derivative, insipid ideas for my blog, which you can always read now.
Nevertheless, let’s make this upcoming weekend in San Francisco special, The Weekend of No Lines. Many of you will be in line for too few bathrooms and too-pricey beers at the Outside Lands music festival, but the rest of us should power through a boycott. Let’s all just buy some groceries and enjoy nice quiet meals at home with our loved ones.
I’ll see you in a mind-boggling line at Whole Foods.