Restaurants run by workers seem like a great idea. Rather than having to bow and scrape before the Man, the employees of places like René Pujol and Colors, discussed recently in the New York Resident, more or less get to decide their own destinies. But they raise an age-old question (which most people haven't pondered since college): Is the worker's paradise really a practical idea?
Quoting Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York's Mamdouh Fekkak, the article tells us what, if you lived through the fall of the U.S.S.R. or have ever waited in line at the Park Slope Coop, is glaringly obvious: "Getting things accomplished democratically is 'very, very, very hard,' Fekkak said. All decisions are voted on by a board, including all hiring and firing, architectural design and menu changes." But it seems to us that there's a third way. René Pujol and Colors aren't exactly setting the restaurant world on fire, but Employees Only, whose five investors all actually work at the place and whose original mission was to serve waiters and bartenders, has become a smashing success. You couldn't rightly call it a cooperative, but it's not the theocracy some chef-driven temples of gastronomy can seem like either.
Workers Are Owners at Co-op Restaurants [New York Resident]
Strictly for the Ladies: How to Meet Men in Restaurants [Grub Street]