We don’t serve soda here

slanted_door_teaOne of the defining characteristics of a community is that it establishes and enforces a set of social norms…as I recently experienced.

I was in San Francisco for a lunch meeting at Slanted Door, the über popular restaurant that anchors the Ferry Building, a marketplace for local farmers and artisan producers. When ordering food, we deferred to the connoisseur among us, a regular who seemed to know the menu by heart. When ordering drinks, we went solo, and I asked for a Diet Coke.

Oops. I might as well have ordered the baby seal appetizer.

After a pregnant pause, our waitress coolly informed me, “We don’t serve soda here.” And the italics are hers, not mine. She spat the word out, as though it left a vile taste in her mouth.

(In my defense, a guy at the next table had a plastic bottle of Diet Coke sitting out in plain view—smuggled-in contraband, I now realize. No matter. His heresy did nothing to mitigate my own.)

Awkward as that moment was, I love that they have a deeply held set of beliefs and values—and that they’re not shy about telling you when you’ve stepped on them. The waitress was saying, in effect, “Go get your f***ing Diet Coke at McDonald’s. We stand for something here.”

I didn’t do an exhaustive search, but I’m guessing you can’t buy a Diet Coke anywhere in the Ferry Building. To do so would be an affront to their community of independently owned producers, suppliers and retailers, and to the like-minded customers who flock there.

I had the iced tea. It was exceptional.

Photo credit: mulmatsherm

A version of this article previously ran on thevinespeaks.com.

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