So this is funny: There's a robot-manned coffee bar thing at the Metreon called Cafe X, and even it wants you to chip for its healthcare. Local blogger Mr. Eric Sir alerts us to the situation after he was unnecessarily charged the "SF Health Mandate" surcharge after this robot arm handed him his macchiato. "I, for one, welcome our new robot food service overlords," he writes. "What I'm not fine with, however, are spurious surcharges."

There on his bill for his $3.50 coffee beverage is a 30-cent sales tax, and a 14-cent healthcare surcharge, because hey, this robot might get carpal tunnel someday.


Mr. Eric Sir acknowledges that, sure, "human employees maintain this robot. But if you think about it, Cafe X is nothing more than a fanciful vending machine." And we don't pay healthcare surcharges on vending machine snacks.

Controversy over the Healthy SF law dates back about a decade now, after the always slim-margined restaurant industry cried foul over having to provide healthcare for their employees, and responded by adding this visible surcharge to most restaurant checks. Having made their point, Chronicle critic Michael Bauer called for restaurants to stop being stubborn about this and simply fold their healthcare costs into their pricing — however in 2014 he did learn why some restaurants still include the line item, which is that their rent can be tied to their gross receipts, and if they simply raise their prices their rent can go up.

And I guess even a robot cafe has to abide by the law too?

Previously: Billionaire Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Owner Complains That SF's Healthcare Mandate Hurts Restaurants