It’s not glib to say that eradicating capitalism is the surest way to build equitable restaurants. Living in a country that provided universal health care, federally mandated paid child leave and sick leave, and a living minimum wage, as well as incentivized sustainable farming, encouraged unions, and got rid of at-will employment, would go a long way toward creating environments within restaurants (and all businesses) where workers had power over their own livelihood.
But that is a tall order for restaurants to take on alone, so barring revolution (though fingers crossed), upending everything we assume about how restaurants are run is the necessary step toward an actually ethical restaurant industry. Other options already exist — nonprofits, workers collectives, unions, volunteer-run restaurants — that create models for a fairer and more just workplace. But what does it even mean to be an equitable restaurant? And can simply changing the ownership structure provide that?