Stephen Rushmore Jr.
Apparently there’s a new restaurant in Greenwich Village called Colors, which is owned by a co-op of the staff members. Of the 50 owners, 35 used to work at Windows on the World, on top of the WTC.
Here’s an article from the Washington Post.
Trade Center Restaurant’s Workers Back in Business — This Time as Owners
Colors’ Grand Opening Caps a Four-Year Struggle
By Michelle Garcia
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 11, 2006; Page A03
NEW YORK — That eager waiter hovering around isn’t just hoping for a generous tip. The bartender with the big, bright smile deeply cares that his cocktail concoction hits all the right buttons. Indeed the entire staff at Colors behaves as if their very livelihood, their personal success, rests on your happiness, because it does.
Busboys, waiters and sous-chefs all have a stake in this new Greenwich Village restaurant, which labor activists believe is the city’s first worker-owned restaurant. And for the crew, Colors is a kind of a rebirth. Most of the owners once worked at Windows on the World, the legendary restaurant atop the World Trade Center where 73 of their colleagues died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
True to its name, Colors offers a menu that blends American cuisine with the worldly tastes of the mostly immigrant proprietors who hail from more than 20 countries. There is Philippine lobster lumpia and Haitian-style stewed conch. A world map etched in glass adds a modern touch to the pre-World War II decor.
"For the immigrant, his dream is to open his own restaurant," said Mamdouh Fekkak, 44, a former waiter’s captain at Windows on the World, who dreamed up the restaurant idea. "It’s going to be a model to show how to do a profitable restaurant while you’re taking care of your workers."
Wages start at $13 an hour, far above the prevailing wage at other local restaurants. The owner-workers tolerate none of the top-down bullying they say is common in the industry. Colors is that relatively rare high-end New York restaurant where diversity of looks and accents is celebrated in the front of the house, not hidden away in the kitchen.
Still, when Colors opened last month, the newly minted owners relished a range of triumphs that in the past four years included overcoming weak financial support and infighting among the workers.
Although most of the co-op members lost their restaurant jobs after the attacks, Colors was left out of the rebuilding of downtown Manhattan. Local government entities charged with distributing federal funds to revive the area around Ground Zero declined to give the workers any assistance, forcing them to scramble for several years to piece together the $2.2 million in loans and grants to launch the restaurant.
The result was a financial burden so big that it led to an internal rupture that shook the collective membership, forcing many to walk away, saying they could not afford to keep waiting.
"They said they want to build an empire," said Behzad Pasdar, a leader of the dissident group. "We wanted a place that we could open up and start working. "
The workers lost many friends when the twin towers crashed. Some, such as Sekou Siby, a former cook who survived, drifted away. He started driving a cab, avoided crowds and friends, including his old co-workers.
"I didn’t want to be reminded about the loss," he said, in the clipped French accent of his native Ivory Coast.
Months passed and Siby, whose long, lean frame seems designed for the high-intensity of restaurant work, missed the camaraderie of the kitchen. He learned of a union-run workers’ center in Lower Manhattan. There he met Saru Jayaraman, a daughter of Indian immigrants and an Ivy League-educated lawyer who was helping displaced restaurant workers apply for relief fun,12,182124,0,14998,184.108.40.206
182123,182112,182112,2006-02-20 12:45:26,RE: I must talk too much!”