Adding Racial Equity to the Menu: An Equity Toolkit for Restaurant Employers

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Restaurants often distinguish themselves by their delicious cuisine, unique menu, top-notch service, inviting atmosphere, and/or value pricing. We have all witnessed the wave of restaurants shifting towards sustainable, locally sourced, and organic food as a way to stand apart. Now, a growing number of restaurants are exploring ways to add equity to their menu — making the fair treatment and compensation of employees a prominent part of their mission, operations, customer appeal, and overall brand. There’s an increased interest — and appetite — for equity, not only among customers, but also among restaurant owners, and of course, restaurant workers.

This Racial Equity Toolkit provides restaurant management with practical resources for assessing, planning, and implementing steps toward racial equity at your business. There is no step too small: every action you take helps your business thrive and fosters stronger local relationships with your workers and consumers.

This toolkit combines the expertise of three national organizations: Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), Race Forward, and the Center for Social Inclusion. Collectively, these organizations have decades of experience in restaurant-standards innovation and racial-equity consulting. To ensure this tool is useful, realistic, and accessible for real-life people in the industry, we partnered with two respected  fine dining and casual dining restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area: Alta (San Francisco) and Homeroom (Oakland).

Through our partnership with the management and staff of these leading restaurants, we identified the skills and tools that are most critical to supporting all restaurants in moving the needle on racial equity in the industry. The result is a toolkit that is simple and straightforward. It can help you identify where racial bias — whether conscious or unconscious — might be operating in the functions or policies of your restaurant, thus creating barriers to success for employees of color and your business as a whole. It can also help you craft a plan to eliminate those barriers. We also recognize that achieving racial equity can require more guidance and support than what can be found in this toolkit alone, and that you will invariably run into obstacles along the way.

In tandem with this publication, ROC United has launched a racial equity coaching service to provide more one-on-one expert support, connect you with our network of other experienced restaurateurs, and help you avoid common pitfalls on the path to racial equity.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that restaurants fully utilize and reward the skills that all workers bring to their workplace, as well as bolster the success of the business for both owners and patrons.

Download the Toolkit