• Press

September 28, 2015
Contact: Dallas Donnell, dallas@rocunited.org, 215 870 7076

What happens when an author goes undercover at a popular “family-friendly” restaurant?

We find out in a new video released today announcing Forked: A New Standard For American Dining, the forthcoming book from Saru Jayaraman, the best-selling author ofBehind The Kitchen Door and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United).

We all love going out to eat at restaurants. For restaurant-goers, dining out means seeing friends and family; being served special, delicious food and drinks to commemorate a special moment like an anniversary or birthday; going out to eat, quite simply, is thoroughly enjoyable.

But how much do you know about the architects behind those special moments — the servers, hosts, bussers, cooks, and bartenders who are overseeing all aspects of preparing and serving your meal? You might know every last detail on your favorite restaurant’s menu, but do you know if the owner pays a family-sustaining wage to their employees?

In a video released this morning, Saru Jayaraman, the author of the best-selling book Behind The Kitchen Door, sits down for a meal at Olive Garden, the flagship brand for the world’s largest full-service restaurant corporation Darden Restaurants. She asks her server what it’s really like to work there.

The startling answer is the foundation for Saru’s new book, Forked: A New Standard for American Dining, due out in February of 2016.

Although many restaurant chains work hard to embody the virtues of family-style dining and a family-friendly atmosphere — Olive Garden’s slogan is “We’re All Family Here,” — their wages and employment practices are typically anything but. Fortunately, a growing number of restaurant employers are moving the industry forward by taking the “high road,” and proving that treating your employees with dignity and being profitable are not mutually exclusive.

In Forked, Saru profiles restaurateurs across the country who are forgoing business-as-usual for the restaurant industry and instead championing ‘high road’ policies like family-sustaining wages, common-sense benefits like paid sick days, and commitments to fair hiring and promotion policies.

Her new book, Forked: A New Standard For American Dining (Oxford University Press) will be released in February of 2016.

video: https://youtu.be/e2skLnqvLlc


Saru Jayaraman is the co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. She has received numerous awards including CNN’s Top 10 Visionary Women award, the White House “Champions of Change” Award, and the Campaign for America’s Future, Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award, all in 2014. Saru is the author of Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell).