Lingering too long over breakfast? At one Nob Hill hotel, that’ll cost you $30
They say talk is cheap, but talking too long could cost you a bundle this week at San Francisco’s swank Fairmont Hotel, where lingering too long over breakfast will add an extra $30 an hour per person — plus tax — to the tab.
And that’s on top of a minimum $50-per-person breakfast order.
“It’s called premium or congestive pricing. Airlines have been using it during their busy seasons for years, and so do hotels,” said Joe D’Alessandro, whose job as head of San Francisco Travel is to keep the convention bucks coming into the city.
In the case of the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill, the seat charge is a response to the demand brought on with the arrival of the annual four-day J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, which starts Monday at the Westin St. Francis and is one of the city’s biggest conventions.
The price, however, was a bit of a jaw-dropper for one local exec who booked a table at the Fairmont’s Laurel Court Restaurant and Bar for breakfast Thursday.
Shortly after making the reservation, the exec got a nice note back informing him there was a “food & beverage minimum of $50 per person,” plus an 18% service charge and 8.5% tax for all reservations.
That comes to $63.25 per person.
The note also said that “reservations are for a 90 minute period with a rental of $30/person (+8.5% tax) for each additional hour.”
“Please let me know your thoughts or questions,” the note said. “We look forward to hosting you!”
Given the prices and conditions, the businessman opted to have the breakfast at his Embarcadero office.
“It’s not a new policy, and it is only for the three days of the convention,” said Fairmont General Manager Paul Tormey. “So we have a minimum spending rule and a time frame, otherwise they linger and tie up the tables turning the restaurant into a big meeting room and the servers and our other customers would suffer.”
“It’s fairly standard practice when cities get really full with groups like this,” D’Alessandro said.
One thing is for certain: With prices at Laurel Court ranging from $22 for buttermilk pancakes to steak and eggs at $28 and fresh-squeezed orange juice at $10 a glass, it wouldn’t be hard to hit the $50-per-guest minimum.
“It’s all about supply and demand,” D’Alessandro said.
Speaking of demand: Despite its highly visible homelessness problem, the city got rave reviews from the 4,000-plus convention bookers who came to town last week for their own conference.
City cleanup crews, police and an army of 380 volunteers and 40 paid “ambassadors” were out in force to make sure the downtown was clean, safe and friendly.
“The city was amazing. I don’t think I heard any feedback that was negative,” said Professional Convention Management Association President Sherrif Karamat.
So with any luck, the convention demand will stay high — maybe even high enough to warrant more table charges.
That’s success for you.
A star is born: As the son of imprisoned radical parents, San Francisco’s new district attorney, social justice advocate Chesa Boudin, has a made-for-Hollywood personal story.
In fact, there is already a documentary on the 39-year-old Boudin in the works, with a film crew following him around as he takes the reins of office.
The crew captured every moment when Boudin stood before supporters who filled the Herbst Theatre and urged them to “join us in rejecting the notions that to be free we must cage others, that to seek justice we must abandon forgiveness, that to empower our protectors requires tolerating excessive force, that to be safe we should put the mentally ill and addicted in cages, and that jails and prisons should be the primary response to all of our social problems.”
How the movie plays out remains to be seen.
On the campaign trial, Boudin said he would not prosecute quality-of-life crimes such as public intoxication, public defecation or public hard-drug use — a position he will have to reconcile with a public that, while sympathetic to the causes of the problem, still wants the behavior stopped.
Boudin also campaigned strongly for victims’ rights, saying shortly after the election that “we spend $80,000 a year to keep someone in prison, but we do nothing for victims of crime.”
Yet of Boudin’s 45-member transition team, only one’s résumé makes reference to victims.
Boudin did not respond to requests for comment.
Breed’s playlist: Mayor London Breed’s musical favorites were front and center at her inauguration. First up: Katie Kadan, the singer from Chicago who brought down the house with her rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Breed first heard Kadan when she was listening to “The Voice” while washing dishes in her apartment — and has been a fan ever since.
So one of her top requests was for the privately financed inaugural committee to fly Kadan in for the swearing-in ceremony.
The event closed with Carlos Santana, who, it turns out, is a fan of Breed.
Shortly after Breed’s first inaugural in 2018, the homegrown Santana sent her a signed Fender Squier guitar, which Breed has on display in her office. Breed reciprocated by showing up at Santana’s concert at Chase Center a couple of months back.
Santana closed out the ceremony with gospel singer Yolanda Adams.
As luck would have it, Santana’s performance also drowned out protesters who had gathered on the fourth floor of the City Hall rotunda.
When the protesters let loose by dropping notes that said, “No more (homeless) sweeps — more housing,” most of the audience thought it was confetti being tossed as part of the celebration.
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Phil Matier appears Sundays and Wednesdays. Matier can be seen on the KGO-TV morning and evening news and can also be heard on KCBS radio Monday through Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Got a tip? Call 415-777-8815, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @philmatier