[Palo Alto] Stanford Catering competing with local restaurants?

I got this flyer at my door. Somehow, the idea of a division within a school with a twenty-eight billion dollar endowment competing with struggling mom and pop restaurants doesn’t sit well with me. I get it that everyone is struggling right now, and Stanford Catering probably has no business on campus because most students are gone. But still.

They say the revenue generated helps directly offset increases in student room and board fees and supports student programs. And hence my argument the school should dip into the endowment first to offset the fee increases if the catering arm isn’t generating revenue.

Though the reality is probably more complex that the school will probably lay the catering division off if they don’t generate business. So a bunch of people will probably lose their jobs.

Set the moral issue aside, is it legal for them to operate outside the campus?

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Set the moral issue aside, is it legal for them to operate outside the campus?

What legal restrictions/requirements are you thinking might get in the way of their providing off-campus meal delivery/“catering” services to the “general public”? I would think they normally provide actual “catering” services on campus (and maybe off?) as well as running the dining halls/etc, so presumably they’re fully-licensed for that sort of operation? And presumably they would be covered by any temporary/emergency state/local regs that allow restaurants and other foodservice providers that normally operate only “on-site” businesses to shift to delivery/takeout?

Around taxation. Since the school is exempted from certain type of tax.

And also county health department, whether they are subjected to the same inspection process as regular restaurants.

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I’m not a tax lawyer, but I would think that as long as they collect sales/use tax appropriately, the fact that the school itself isn’t a regular business entity probably wouldn’t matter… Even if they’re a full-blown “not-for-profit” org (and I’m not sure how that works - I think non-purely “commercial” private schools have their own sections in most tax codes), those aren’t required to “not make any profits”, the restrictions come into play in terms of what they can do with the income they do take in. I suppose it’s possible their business activity is supposed to be restricted somehow “in general”, but considering the number of “private services” that various departments/segments of many universities make available to all comers (especially scientific/technical departments), I’d be surprised if foodservice was somehow an exception, even if it’s not a typical activity.

Needless to say, I don’t have the slightest clue about the health-related inspection stuff. One would hope they’d be held to similar (or higher) standards as anyone else in the same jurisdiction(s) but you never know…

Especially considering the relatively small revenue they presumably can hope to bring in (relative to the school’s size/total revenue) I would think that as a practical matter, their lawyers must be reasonably sure it’s OK. Advertising their services so publicly seems like a lot of trouble to ask for, if they weren’t… and they’re not a small business/organization that might do something like this in complete ignorance, and not having “channels” things like this probably have to go through to ever see the light of day…

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I don’t know why you’d think they wouldn’t be inspected, nobody is exempt from the health dept! You can search inspections in Santa Clara county

https://services.sccgov.org/facilityinspection/Home/Search

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Maybe I Cannot Even Begin to Understand because (a) I don’t own a private island to vacation - or do anything else - on, and (b) only went to a (reasonably name-brand, but not Stanford-league) school with a vastly smaller endowment (though fairly big by regular-people standards, which I have never and would never contribute to <insert long story here>), but I have to say I found that… interesting. Pretty disturbingly flippant, actually, but certainly interesting…

PS: Fwiw, I do  get that Endowments aren’t things to be “toyed with” for short-term fiscal reasons, and while it would be nice in a utopian-idealistic sorta way if concerns like those being addressed were considered Significant by Boards of Trustees of institutions like Stanford, I understand that they’re not. But the light-hearted - apparent attempt at - “humor”? (Complete with “by all means express any further concerns you have, but realize that I’ll have to leave my secretary to flip you the bird her/himself because… I of course am vacationing-on-my-private-island-off-the-coast-of-Maine…”) Wow… Just. Wow.

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I’m not sure if everyone already knows this, but I’m thinking that was satire from an unrelated source.

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McSweeny’s!

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Indeed.

Well, that’s embarassing. :blush:That certainly flew right right by me, which if I do say so myself, isn’t an everyday occurrence. (But I’m gonna blame Post-Trump America a little too. At this point almost nothing strikes me as “couldn’t possibly be what they really said” anymore… <sigh> But that’ll certainly learn me to check sites I’m reading more closely…

cc: @ shrinkrap

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My son actually went to Stanford and it’s a pretty surreal place in a lot of ways. I can see why you might’ve thought it was real!

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haha, you’re right, it is entirely too hard to distinguish satire from reality these days, sorry to alarm you

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Frankly, I didn’t really even consider that it might not be. Which was of course, foolish… If I hadn’felt this way so often about a lot of things a lot of public figures have said over the past few years, my initial thought that “I can’t believe anyone would make a public statement like this (even if they were thinking it…)” would’ve probably been literal rather than figurative, and I would’ve paid more attention to where it was posted…

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That’s OK. What with all the political insanity we’ve been subjected to in recent history (and now the Covid19-related insanity on top of that), it’s not always easy to tell who’s “sane”-and-serious and who’s just having some sort of as-yet-undiagnosed psychiatric episode…:upside_down_face::wink:

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I tried my best to be diplomatic. I got so tired of asking friends on Facebook to check sources I just stopped going there.

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Well, feel free to remind me any time.:wink: If it’d been The Onion’s site, I (naturally?) would’ve just posted a couple of :rofl:s , but McSweeney’s is only sorta-kinda on my radar, and my ad- and script-blockers might’ve also been hiding side-panels or another hint or two… (Or at least, “that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it”.:grin:)

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I dont have McSweeney’s on my radar, but I figured most (but apparently not all!) of the people I need to be afraid of are a bit more subtle.

I really don’t want to think about that stuff when I’m on HO.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold