By Maria X Martinez

Okay, so imagine a world where public funds were the primary source for creating great restaurants in San Francisco. 

For 25 years, those public funds were distributed through “Grants for the Restaurants” to create French, German, Italian, and “American” restaurants for all San Franciscans and tourists to be lifted to fine dining heights. 

Soon thereafter, the so-called minorities started to complain that these restaurants didn’t appeal to their palate, weren’t in their neighborhoods, and were too expensive. Since they paid taxes just like everyone else, well…that pissed off these people of color and their allies. Visitors and tourists also began to ask for different options.

So the next GFTR strategy was, “Let’s diversify! We’ll promote minorities to frequent our restaurants, reach out to their children with free food and introduce their palates to the finer foods of civilization so they grow up and appreciate and frequent our restaurants later on. And if we must, we’ll invite minorities to sit on our marketing committees and help us promote our strategy. Why yes, that is diversification at its best.” 

But still, people of color said that’s not enough, restaurants are economic engines for our communities. So GFTR then said, “Okay, we’ll hire some of these minorities to work for us,” and they began to hire Black bus boys, Chinese kitchen help and even a lot of Mexican cooks. 

And the people of color said, “No. We want our own restaurants, in our own neighborhoods, we want to design the menus, we want to design the food and use the ingredients. We want to hire the people who can create the finest dining alchemy in our palate, not yours. We want to attract tourists from southern, eastern, and African continents and we will welcome all! We have ideas for menus that are bursting at the seams!”

“Oh, you fringe elements, you minorities, stop complaining, where’s your solidarity for all-things-restaurants-are-most-important?” said the restaurants funded by GFTR. “We’ll get to you sooner or later.”

As the people of color grew into the majority, they calmly said to their civic leaders, “Enough. Enough. Enough.”