It's that time of year again -- Genentech is coming to town. The biotech company has handed out $25 worth of "GenenMoney" to each of its employees to spend at their choice of 250 businesses in South City, Vacaville, Oceanside and Hillsboro, OR by this Friday.
Since the Genentech Goes to Town program started in 1993, over $2 million has been distributed to support these local economies. This year, 75 South San Francisco businesses are participating.
Beginning Sept. 10, motorized antique cable cars have been shuttling Genentech employees from the company's campus east of Route 101 into town for a taste of South City.
Patch asked business owners on Grand Ave. about the program and received mixed reviews as to whether there's a significant increase in customers, but everyone seemed to enjoy the free advertising and new relationships.
Boon Tankaew at Thai Satay Restaurant said he has participated for six years, and that it always brings in a lot of extra business.
Bravo Pizza, Mia Garcia of Madame's Boutique, Chun Joun of Wright Cleaners, and Pauline Yen of May Fair Restaurant all said that they don't usually see any spike in business during this two-week period.
"Maybe a little," said Pauline Yen at May Fair Restaurant. Yen said that this year she somehow missed the call to get on the list that was distributed to Genentech employees, which may have had something to do with not seeing many more customers.
Horazio Batino at El Farolito on Grand Ave. said they also missed the call to participate this year. But at least he knows there's an interest because about 10 Genentech employees have stopped in every day for the past week, GenenMoney in hand.
The Genentech Goes to Town webpage quotes several local business owners, including Ken at the Wine Vault, who said, "We've been participating in Genentech Goes to Town since 2000, and have developed great relationships with employees across the business."
This year is Genentech's 20th with the program, and the company is also making a donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank, earmarked specifically for San Mateo County residents.
According to a Genentech spokesperson: The cable cars run weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. between Genentech and downtown South San Francisco. In addition, daily lunchtime shuttle service are available for Redwood City employees to and from downtown South San Francisco. In order to accommodate off-shift employees, the shuttles will also run beween 5 and 7 p.m.