“We don’t have to lay anybody off,” Goldsmith, one of the Cheese Board’s worker-owners, tells Eater SF. “When we decided to close, we decided to take that financial hit. And we all take that hit.”
Tamarack, a worker-owned restaurant and bar in downtown Oakland, and Other Avenues, one of San Francisco’s longest-running food co-ops, tell similar stories: The coronavirus pandemic has forced the businesses to make major adjustments, but nobody lost their job — though in some cases they also aren’t getting a paycheck right now. At a time when the entire restaurant industry — and, perhaps, capitalism itself — feels more broken than ever, it’s tempting to view the worker-collective model as a kind of antidote to these economically fraught times. Are these co-ops, where no single boss or board of investors has the power to scuttle dozens of jobs, somehow better equipped to weather the COVID-19 crisis?