Food News

Apple to Build Employee-Only Restaurant to Keep Out Spies and Competitors

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Tue, May 1, 2012 at 7:16 AM

click to enlarge Pizza at Apple's campus cafe - OSUNICK/FLICKR
Say your company has top-secret information that it would like to contain within the confines of its campus. But your employees eat, as people do, at public restaurants. And at these public restaurants, they, as people unfortunately do, talk about their work, which often includes inadvertent disclosures about proprietary projects, trade secrets and other valuable, confidential company information. What do you do? If you're Apple, you use your treasure chest to build your employees a room of their own, so to speak. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Cupertino company will build a two-story, 21,468-square-foot cafeteria for its employees, and only its employees.

Apple already has several (favorably reviewed) cafes throughout its campus, but, because the Caffe Macs are open to both employees and visitors, they're not exactly secure places to talk about the next iPhone. As Apple's real estate facilities director explained to the city's planning commission, the new employees-only restaurant will literally wall off outsiders, protecting the company from prying eyes and big ears: "We like to provide a level of security so that people and employees can feel comfortable talking about their business, their research and whatever project they're engineering without fear of competition sort of overhearing their conversations."

In addition to the cafeteria, there will be a courtyard, lounging areas and several meeting rooms, and it will be open on weekdays for breakfast through midafternoon. But while it will no doubt be a convenient treehouse for employees to talk shop and gossip, it won't exactly improve on Apple's biggest security risk: Its own employees. Two years ago, a software engineer left behind a prototype of the iPhone 4 at a Redwood City bar; the phone was found and sold to Gizmodo for $5,000 cash. And last September, another employee lost a model of the iPhone 5 at a San Francisco bar.

Maybe what Apple really needs, then, is not an exclusive campus restaurant but rather a members-only campus bar. Named, perhaps, Drink Different.

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