The San Francisco skyline at night

Restaurant workers in San Francisco earned a median income of $US30,000 in 2017, making them among the highest-paid in the country, but just 0.1 percent of homes in the San Francisco area are considered affordable for restaurant workers. The resulting lack of hospitality staff has meant that restaurants are having to change how they operate.

“We can sit around here, and we can complain and whine and moan,” said Charles Bililies, owner of Greek restaurant Souvla. “We can be very negative about it, or we can sort of turn this on its head and see an opportunity.”

A large portion of restaurants have switched to a counter-service model – a system commonplace in New Zealand, the UK and Scandinavia, but not often found in the USA.