Amid Pittsburgh’s restaurant boom, a new conference this week aims to tackle tough issues within the food and service industry, including gentrification, sexism and cultural appropriation.
Liana Maneese, founder of the Good Peoples Group, which organized the event, said workers’ groups and unions have been fighting against systemic challenges in restaurants for a long time, “but we felt that the conversation wasn’t available for people who actually had the power to enact the change.”
The 86 Conference, taking place Monday and Tuesday at the Ace Hotel in East Liberty, was tailored to restaurant owners and managers.
Maneese said while there are challenges to making the food and service industry a more inclusive environment, it’s good for businesses’ bottom line.
“If you’re smart, you will be able to see this as a marketing opportunity,” she said. “If you’re business-minded and you’re not as interested in social justice, the first thing is, the people who come to your restaurant and spend money, are.”
Maneese said education is often a barrier; many restaurant owners know cultural appropriation is a problem, but don’t know why, or don’t know how to prevent it within their companies, she said.
Attendees at the conference will be exposed to more equitable human resources practices and how to implement fairer wages and the elimination of tipping, which can be a challenge for restaurants which often have tight profit margins.
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Jul 24, 2017 at 6:56am PDT