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October 1, 2010 9:44 pm
No Name Café, Google, Building 43, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043
Food: Seasonal, with vegetarian and raw options
Value for money: Unimprovable (Google offers staff free meals)
Corporate mission: Officially: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Unofficially: “Don’t be evil”.
In the heart of the Googleplex in Silicon Valley, California, I am sitting down to lunch at No Name Café for the third time this week. Of the 16 canteens on campus, No Name is my current favourite – only a three-minute stroll from my office building, and serving delicious food by chef Scott Giambastiani (formerly of the excellent Mediterranean restaurant Viognier in San Mateo). It’s a great place to bump into people – and ideas.
Today I pile my plate high with pot roast, organic yellow wax beans and grilled Alba Farms squash. I move on to Challah apple bread pudding made with free range eggs, topped by a scoop of just-invented chocolate dessert (avocados, Dutch cocoa, magic). Out on the patio, muss-haired engineers are picking at arugula, peach and pecorino salads and sipping on basil and cucumber-infused water. I finish with a cup of Four Barrels decaf coffee.
I would happily have paid $30 for my lunch, but thanks to Google these meals are free. Responsibly sourced food (vegan brownies, steroid-free chicken) keeps staff productive and happy, and health bills low.
Google’s free cafés are like its free products: successful not only because they cost nothing, but because they are ingenious. And everyone from programmers to internet founder Vint Cerf waits in line with their tray.
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