To many of us, Google is a verb. An internet action one takes to find/learn anything and everything. Another thing one might think about when hearing the word “Google” is the $500-600 cost per share of the company’s stock. That price puts the company’s valuation in the billions and makes it one of the wealthiest technology companies in the world.
Recently, I visited family living in California’s Silicon Valley where the main Google office is located and where my wife’s cousin works. He gave us a tour of the company’s campus including complimentary lunch in the main cafeteria where breakfast, lunch and dinner are always free for all employees and their occasional guest(s).
Google’s campus is similar to an office park you can find around metro Atlanta. (Silicon Valley reminds me of a posh version of Alpharetta.) The company occupies many buildings in the area and has artwork and sculptures strewn all over the campus to keep you visually busy.
There is also a quirky food sculpture park where you can let the kids loose in. Pedestrian bicycles branded in the Google colors are available for employees to transport to and fro around campus, and they don’t ever seem to be locked down so an employee can just walk outside and grab one and go.
Regarding my lunch experience, the video I posted above is of the main Google cafeteria. (It’s a lot tighter than it depicts as there are people everywhere clamoring for a spot in any of the many food station lines.)
There are always separate Asian-themed stations (for the many Chinese and Indian Google employees) generally focusing on a dish or small sampling of dishes. There are also pre-made burritos one can quickly grab, or you can queue up in a line to get one freshly made. And of course, scoop out your favorite accoutrements at the salsa/condiment bar.
There is a hot station offering American food that the kitchen staff planned for the menu that day. But you can also rely on pizza, hot dogs, a salad bar and sandwiches readily available in the cafeteria every day.
If nothing captures your eye in the main cafeteria, hop on one those Google bikes and head over to the Asian-themed cafeteria nearby. It offers a larger menu than the main cafeteria’s “Asian stations” and chefs prepare Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Indian favorites depending on the day of the week. And if your family is visiting, take advantage of the do-it-yourself soft serve ice cream machine — a hit with the kids.
After you grab your grub, have a seat in the larger communal cafeteria or the cozier Asian outpost with coworkers. Or if it’s a beautiful sunny day, which it normally is every day in Mountain View, California, grab a table outside and soak in the sun.
Are you still hungry? That guy over there running a metallic food cart is a hot dog vendor. And yes, they are free too.
by Gene Lee, Food and More blog