California Restaurant Association tests out public-awareness campaign in Palo Alto | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany | Palo Alto Online |

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By Elena Kadvany

California Restaurant Association tests out public-awareness campaign in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Mar 24, 2017

People dining at La Bodeguita del Medio on California Avenue in Palo Alto this week might not have noticed a new note that appeared at the bottom of their receipts: "On average, for every $1 spent eating in the USA, about 95 cents goes to food, the place & a GREAT staff!"

La Bodeguita is one of six Palo Alto restaurants participating in a California Restaurant Association campaign to raise awareness about the economic challenges restaurants face. The restaurants printed some version of the above message on their receipts, and a team of California Restaurant Association staff were stopping by eateries on Friday to interview customers about their reactions.

"When 95 cents on every dollar you spend goes back into your experience at a restaurant, we're hoping people will understand what a labor of love restaurants are," said Sharokina Shams, vice president of marketing and communications for the California Restaurant Association.

Shams said her organization decided to test out the educational campaign in Palo Alto in response to a group of local owners who were looking for ways to raise public awareness, California Restaurant Association's goal to do the same and the fact that "challenges in the industry faces statewide are particularly acute in the Bay Area."

For more on some of those challenges, read this story I wrote recently for the Palo Alto Weekly and our two sister papers on how restaurants are grappling with a regional labor shortage, minimum wage increases and stiff competition from tech companies, among other issues.

Other participating restaurants include The Counter and Calave on California Avenue and MacArthur Park downtown, their owners confirmed. At MacArthur Park, staff put out informational coasters with trivia questions about the economy and restaurants, like the average success or failure rate of restaurants.

The campaign could be described as a pilot; the California Restaurant Association will see how people respond in Palo Alto before potentially expanding it to other cities across the state, Shams said.

The goal is to remind people that restaurants are not just local businesses that contribute to the economy, but also "an important part of our culture," she said.

Shams declined to disclose the full list of participating restaurants, but if you notice the receipt notes around town, please feel free to post and share your thoughts in the comments section.