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Taking The Taxpayers Out To Lunch

Restaurant Opportunity Centers are sprouting up all over America. These groups bill themselves as training centers for restaurant workers that will turn into cooperative ownership ventures. However, as I and Trey Kovacs point out in our latest article on, this is just not the case:

“ROC also operates a restaurant that sells a vision of cooperative ownership whereby workers are promised a stake in the business in exchange for their labor, which ROC elegantly calls "sweat equity." But it seems that ROC treats its workers more like indentured servants than restaurant servers.
ROC's New York restaurant, Colors, has been described by former employees as, "one of the most abusive in the city," profiting from hundreds of hours of free labor. According to one employee, "ROC-NY used us and many others to perform hundreds of hours of unpaid work. They even had us kick back our tips when we worked at parties and events as cooks and waiters."

Not only do they treat their workers badly, we the taxpayers are subsidizing their activities to the tune of some $2 million dollars in public grants from OSHA and other government organizations. The real kicker though is that OSHA is giving this money to not only an organization that treats its workers no better than serfs, but also racks up a superfluity of health violations, as we detail:

“ROC's record on sanitation is hardly any better than the treatment of its workers. Its New York restaurant was cited by the city's Department of Health for multiple health violations, including evidence of rodent infestation in food areas, kitchen surfaces not properly washed, and food improperly stored.”

Taxpayers are truly getting a raw deal with this group, and they would do far better to revoke funding from groups like ROC, especially in this age of spiraling deficits. A decision to revoke ROCs seat at the table is a no brainer.