January 26, 2016

Contact: Tim Rusch,

Dallas Donnell,


ROC United Honors Restaurant Industry Leaders Who Support One Fair Wage for All Workers 

Awards ceremony co-hosted by Danny Meyer and Darren Walker, coinciding with the release of Saru Jayaraman’s new book, FORKED

New York, NY — Today, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United is honoring 19 restaurant businesses for leading the industry’s move toward eliminating the two-tiered wage system and promoting other workplace reforms. The awards ceremony will be hosted at the Ford Foundation’s office in New York City and will be co-hosted by Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) CEO Danny Meyer and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, two longtime champions of improving conditions for low-wage workers.

Currently, most tipped workers are paid a separate, lower minimum wage that starts at $2.13 an hour at the federal level — a rate that hasn’t changed since 1991. Only seven states —  Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington — have raised the base wage for tipped workers to a full minimum wage.  Meyer and other restaurant leaders are urging reform of wage laws to ensure One Fair Wage for restaurant workers, which research shows is not only good for women and families but also for the bottom line.

ROC United is honoring these restaurant industry leaders in conjunction with the upcoming publication of FORKED: A New Standard for American Dining (Oxford University PressFebruary 1, 2016), a new book by ROC co-director Saru Jayaraman. The book highlights many case studies of “high road” practices by owners who have raised their minimum wages and  provides benefits like earned sick days, and “low road” practices of many popular chains including McDonald’s, Subway, Olive Garden, and Denny’s. Jayaramanoffers actionable ways for restaurant owners, employees, and diners to positively effect change in this massive sector of the American economy

The awards event will celebrate many of the restaurant owners highlighted in Forked, and leading members of the national employer association RAISE, for their commitment to fair wages and healthy workplaces.

 Honorees include:

  • Tom Colicchio, Crafted Hospitality, NYC/CA

  • James Freeman, Blue Bottle, National

  • Ben Hall and Jason Murphy, Russell Street Deli, Detroit, MI

  • Imar Hutchins, Florida Ave Grill, Washington, DC

  • Johnny Livesay, Black Star Co-op, Austin, TX

  • James Mallios, Amali, NYC

  • Rosanne Martino, COLORS, NYC

  • Danny Meyer, Union Square Hospitality Group, NYC

  • Monty Moran, Chipotle Mexican Grill, National

  • Hassan Nicholas, Manifesto Café, Los Angeles, CA

  • Brian Parker, moo cluck moo, Michigan

  • Steven Picker, Good, NYC

  • Vimala Rajendran, Vimala’s Curryblossom Café, Chapel Hill, NC

  • Paul Saginaw, Zingerman’s Restaurants, Ann Arbor, MI

  • Andy Shallal, Busboys & Poets, Washington, DC

  • Barbara Sibley, La Palapa, NYC

  • Taki Tanaka, Umi Sushi, Hartford, CT

  • Alice Waters, Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA

  • Lori Zito, Choices Organic Cafe, Miami, FL

“These restaurateurs are shining examples of how doing away with the separate, lower wage for tipped workers in favor of paying One Fair Wage is not only good for workers but it’s also core to ensuring a restaurant industry that’s truly sustainable.” Saru Jayaraman, Co-director of ROC, author of the bestselling book Behind the Kitchen Door and the new book Forked.

“The fair wage issue is a simple one for us,” says Founder and CEO of Blue Bottle Coffee James Freeman. “We believe that every person involved in making our coffee deserves a fair wage, whether they are coffee farmers, baristas, roasters, or porters. Fair and respectful pay has always been an important part of our company and it is an honor to be recognized for this commitment to our employees.

Awards event information: 2:30-5pm, 1/26/2015 at the Ford Foundation in New York City. For more information about the awards or Forked, please contact Tim Rusch, or Dallas Donnell,


Co-founded by leading workers’ rights advocate Saru Jayaraman (“One of the top 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry” – Nation’s Restaurant News), ROC United has nearly 18,000 worker-members in more than 30 cities in the U.S., winning 15 worker-led campaigns, recovering $8 million in stolen tips and wages. Jayaraman was a 2015 James Beard Leadership Award winner.