California – Cronyism and Control rule

Two stories from California show how they have lost their way.

On April 1, California raised the minimum wage for large fast food restaurant franchises to $20 an hour. This law will threaten seven hundred thousand jobs by destroying the state’s food franchising business; however, there is one notable fast food franchise exempted from this minimum wage hike: Panera.

Greg Flynn is the second-largest Panera franchisee in the world, but he is also known for his close relationship with California governor Gavin Newsom. This relationship stretches back to their high school years and presently takes the form of support and donations to Newsom’s political campaigns. With this close relationship well-documented, it is clear that there is more to this exception, as a recent article by Bloomberg speculates.

When pressed on this exemption by a number of California Republicans, the Newsom administration denied any crony dealings, labeling these accusations as “absurd.”

The bill provides that all fast food restaurants pay the new minimum wage, defining “fast food restaurant” as “a limited-service restaurant in the state that is part of a national fast food chain”:

“Fast food restaurant” shall not include an establishment that on September 15, 2023, operates a bakery that produces for sale on the establishment’s premises bread, as defined under Part 136 of Subchapter B of Chapter I of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, so long as it continues to operate such a bakery. This exemption applies only where the establishment produces for sale bread as a stand-alone menu item, and does not apply if the bread is available for sale solely as part of another menu item.

This certainly sounds like Panera, right? According to Panera’s own website, they do have a bakery that has numerous stand-alone bread items for sale. Additionally, some menu items—such as the French baguette—are described as “freshly baked,” implying that the so-called bakery produces the bread for sale on the premises. More at

Want to close your store? Six months notice please…

Dean Preston, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, has introduced what he calls the Grocery Protection Act – which is based on a proposal the board approved in 1984 that was vetoed by then-San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein. 

Preston’s proposal would require grocery store owners to provide six months written notice to the Board of Supervisors as well as the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). The store would also be required to post notices at all entries and exits as a means of informing customers and the general public. The rule wouldn’t preclude closures due to a store being unprofitable.

“It was a good idea in 1984, and it’s an even better idea now,” Preston said in a press release. “Our communities need notice, an opportunity to be heard, and a transition plan when major neighborhood grocery stores plan to shut their doors. Meeting the food security needs of our seniors and families cannot be left to unilateral backroom decisions by massive corporate entities.”