by Adam Orman
This is part of a series of posts from participants in the Texas Local Food Anti-Racism training by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Together we are creating an anti-racist food system in Texas. This post is by Adam Orman, General Manager and Owner of L’Oca d’Oro restaurant in Austin, Texas and founding member of Good Work Austin.
I have been in the restaurant industry for over 20 years. I have advocated for restaurants to support their local economies, reduce waste, increase food access to communities in need. My restaurant does not pay $2.13/hr and shares a mandatory service charge with all of our employees to create greater equity inside our walls. In the last four years, we became members of a national restaurant labor organization that advocates for higher wages and educates about the racist history of tipping, the racist patterns of tipping and the connection between the tipped minimum wage and sexual harassment. We are at the far progressive end of our industry but it is only now that anti-racist training is something that independent owners are talking about seriously. Those who are less progressive are only now talking about overcoming implicit bias without treading in the swamp of wage inequity and theft, sexual harassment and the exlpoitation of undocumented workers.
I needed this training and our industry desperately needs this training and for more in our industry to be able to speak this language. I learned better definitions for things as simple as race, prejudice and discrimination and more nuanced, complete definitions of white supremacy and white privilege. I left better equipped to have sensitive conversations with our staff about why we’re going to pursue a different more inclusive model. We have a toolkit from One Fair Wage to help us implement more equitable systems, have sought out combo virtual/in person trainings for our staff and Good Work Austin now that I see their value and have begun negotiations with OFW to hold online trainings for an Austin restaurant cohort of restaurant owners in the beginning of 2021.
I am grateful for being pushed to greater action and hopeful that GWA and L’Oca d’Oro can effectively proselytize, change the way Austin’s restaurant’s go about their business and serve as examples of businesses that must do more for our communities instead of only being concerned about how much we can extract from them. Thank you for this invaluable opportunity.