"I already know I'm the cheapest," says Maldonado, who's been using the carbon footprint pricing for about a year now. Rather than charge a flat $35-$40 hourly rate based on a vendor's use of square footage (standard in other San Francisco catering kitchens), Maldonado asks potential renters: What is your (carbon) footprint? Where do you cook? How much storage and refrigeration do you use?
The amount of baking or cooking time also plays an important role in how much Maldonado will charge. A renter using space but limited or no refrigeration pays less. Lower pricing is also given to those willing to work during "peak hours" at La Victoria, generally between 8 a.m. and noon.
"The idea is that the space is big enough to absorb a lot of people," Maldonado says. "We have a blending section. The ovens are spread out.... It's about buying fresh, cooking fresh, and selling fresh." Maldonado says he tries to encourage renters to do business what he calls the right way. That's something he might understand well, given his family has owned La Victoria since 1951.