"It's all organic and 21 cafes to choose from."

"The cafe food is delicious. I only buy food on the weekends."

"You get to eat three meals a day at the office. All the food is dope. Full-time chefs make you food."

"Pros: free food. Cons: got fat."

These are Glassdoor reviews left by Facebook employees. For three years running, Facebook has topped Glassdoor's annual list of best places to work. Luxurious perks like free food are just one reason why.

In-house chefs cook up a variety of cuisines for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menus change daily. There are desserts, beverages and snacks aplenty. The cafeterias around the Facebook campus are "a top three reason to work here," another employee said on Glassdoor.

But the 2,000 Facebook employees who will work from the tech giant's new Mountain View location won't get this sought-after perk. The city of Mountain View has restricted free on-site food at the complex Facebook is subleasing. A city provision added during the complex's development says companies cannot regularly subsidize more than 50 percent of meals within their offices. This was put into place in 2014, but is getting press now that Facebook will begin moving employees into the building this fall.

Though people love free food and will certainly not turn down three gourmet meals a day, this perk is not always in their best interest -- or the best interest of the surrounding community.

There's no need to leave work.

If you get breakfast, lunch and dinner -- plus unlimited snacks, coffee and dessert -- why should you ever need to leave work? You might get there a little earlier to grab breakfast and stay a little later for dinner. And we're not talking about a sad grocery store donut with watery coffee for breakfast.

"Seriously, the quality, taste, and variety of food pleasantly surprises everyone who visits me for a meal," another Seattle-based Facebook employee wrote on Glassdoor.

By making it crazy convenient to dine well at work, Facebook entices their employees to spend as much time there as possible. More butts in seats for longer periods of time, more productivity across the board.

Employees don't support local restaurants.

This is the main reason Mountain View is restricting how much free food companies can give employees at work. Mountain View councilman John McAlister told the San Francisco Chronicle it was a direct response to how Google, the city's largest employer, has hurt local businesses.

Though meals within the office walls cannot be subsidized by more than 50 percent, Facebook can subsidize meals for employees at restaurants open to the public. Mountain View would very much like those 2,000 employees to dine in the community and support local restaurants.

To offer employees working in Mountain View dining perks on par with other Facebook offices the company could give vouchers or reimburse for meals eaten at Mountain View restaurants. There's no word yet if that will happen.

Another way around the provision? Facebook could just make their cafeteria public. That's Google's plan for their new Charleston East campus.

It's not just about food.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems brought upon by Facebook's gourmet cafeterias. And it's not just Facebook. The sprawling campuses of Google, LinkedIn and other tech giants house thousands of employees. Even people did want to leave work to go grab a coffee or lunch, that's not necessarily easy to do.

In reporting on the issue for The Ringer, tech journalist Molly McHugh also touches on other implications tech-campus sprawl brings to local economies. The issues manifest differently at urban and suburban campuses, but include concerns about affordable housing, local jobs and striking a balance between corporate and community interests.

Published on: Aug 9, 2018