As the Black Lives Matter protests continue across the US, it’s a time of soul searching and reflection for the wider community and the hospitality industry.
In a pivotal moment, not just for restaurants, but for America and for societies all over the western world, people are being forced to confront systemic racism in communities, schools and colleges, places of work, and restaurants.
During a pandemic that has decimated the restaurant industry, restaurateurs might be forgiven for feeling that they can only fix racial inequality in restaurants if they have restaurants to run.
However, Greg Baxtrom and restaurateur Max Katzenberg, owners of Brooklyn restaurants Olmsted and Maison Yaki, are showing how it can be done. Despite their restaurants closing down to dine-in service during the coronavirus pandemic, and Olmsted opening as a community kitchen for hospitality workers, Baxtrom has made Maison Yaki available to aspiring black chefs to use as a springboard for their careers.
In a heartfelt Instagram post, Baxtrom writes about his experience growing up in a relatively segregated society in the US, and how his eyes were opened to racial diversity while living and working in Spain.
To contribute to the cause of racial equality, Baxtrom is offering his restaurant Maison Yaki to black entrepreneurs. So if you are a black chef, sommelier, bartender or food professional, Baxtrom will give you restaurant space so you can generate revenue. Whoever takes Baxtrom up on his offer will receive the full support of his team in terms of ordering or logistics.
It is an inspiring gesture that could be transformational, not only for individual members of Brooklyn’s African American community, but also by facilitating racial integration and cooperation in the community. For aspirational black chefs and entrepreneurs looking to establish themselves in the industry, it could make all the difference.