War On Chain Restaurants

A blog about business and economics.
April 1 2013 10:21 AM

"Go Get Your Sandwich in Larchmont"

Not in Eastchester, N.Y.

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for IMG

It's not all that unusual for ritzy neighborhoods to adopt rules designed to be hostile to chain restaurants, but this tale from Eastchester, N.Y., is unusually unsubtle:

“You can go get your sandwich in Larchmont,” said town Supervisor Anthony S. Colavita. “We aren’t going to cheapen the town with fast food or these formula fast-quick casual places.”
A 180-day moratorium on food business applications expires Wednesday, just in time for the new rules to kick in.
The amendment to the zoning code spells out what’s forbidden. The description matches what you’d expect walking into a store like Panera Bread, from the stand-up counter to the menu posted on the wall to minimal table service to the “standardized” decor and “corporate-driven” architecture. Restaurants with 15 or more locations are also unwelcome.

The issue here is that town zoning used to take a functional approach and aim at discouraging fast-food restaurants, but the rise of so called "fast casual" chains like Panera "that mix quick service with a relaxed dining room" is fake forcing them to take a harder line. Now obviously if you happen to be a local business owner, this is good for you. But laws like this that give local capital an advantage versus remote capital are probably bad for wage earners. What you're essentially doing is creating a protected class of capitalists who are immunized against being put out of business by a more effective owner and manager. That has negative consequences for customers but also for workers—you're essentially stuck working for a less-competent boss in a lower-productivity role than you would be in a more competitive market.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.


It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Politico Wonders Why Gabby Giffords Is So “Ruthless” on Gun Control

Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?