Forked: A New Standard for American Dining, has just been published. It’s a project from the Restaurant Opportunities Center, and written by ROC United co-director/founder Saru Jayaraman.
There are two ways to approach this book. The first, easy way is to scan the tables that list “Low Road” and “High Road” employers for different restaurant segments: fast food, fine dining, family/casual, coffee, etc. ROC’s High Road designation has pretty modest requirements:
- Non-tipped wage of at least $10/hour
- Tipped hourly wage of greater than $2.13 (you read that correctly)
- Paid sick days (do you want your cook or server work when they’re sick? Well, they do, because they don’t get paid sick days)
- Advancement opportunities
Despite these low bars, ROC had trouble finding many High Road firms. On the national level, it’s a pretty short list:
- Coffee — Peet’s (nope, not Starbucks)
- Mexican Fast Food — Chipotle (not Taco Bell, Qdoba, Baja Fresh)
- Fine Dining — none (low-roaders include Morton’s, Shula’s, Ruth’s Chris, Capital Grille, and The Palm)
- Casual/Family — none (low-roaders include Olive Garden, Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen)
- Burgers — In-N-Out Burger, Shake Shack (not McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Five Guys, Sonic, or any other chain you know).
At the local level, there are exceptions, and you should buy the book to find them, or download ROC United’s app for your phone flavor.
The second, more impactful approach to the book is to – of course – actually read it. You’ll find compelling stories from workers who have been treated in ways that no one should have to experience. You’ll also understand why the typical tipping system combined with the Federal minimum wage of $2.13 is a terrible idea and pervasively abused. But you’ll also see that restaurants can take the high road; they just have to decide to do it.
And once those establishments have taken the fork onto the high road, you should reward them with your business.Forked and the ROC United app will help you do that.