I’m looking for good translators to help me with reviews of ethnic restaurants. Hindi, Thai, and Lao speakers would be helpful now but I’ll likely need others at some point. If you’re fluent in any non-English language and you’d like to join me on a restaurant review, please don’t hesitate to email!
In June 2009, the much-beloved Bill and Judy Fujimoto, former proprietors of North Berkeley greengrocer Monterey Market, were ousted unceremoniously from their positions. The community uproar was swift, and high-profile shoppers like Alice Waters and Judy Rodgers (owner of Zuni Café in San Francisco) vowed to take their business elsewhere. And for the last two and a half years, a feud has been percolating in this otherwise sleepy, idyllic neighborhood.
Oakland City Council's approval of an interim mobile food policy was a measured win; it will be many months before the city adopts the progressive, comprehensive mobile-food policy of say, Emeryville. The temporary resolution only allows for food-truck events, leaving a trillion details to be worked out (curbside vending for individual trucks, food carts versus trucks, etc.). Nonetheless, many event organizers are breaking out the confetti.
At least one food-pod organizer is not psyched for the city’s new interim policy. Elizabeth August, longtime mobile-food advocate and oft-thwarted event organizer, announced Saturday that her Oakland Mobile Food Group brand and website is on the market. She is also selling the Guerrilla Grub food truck to focus exclusively on her catering business.
Last night Oakland City Council took baby steps forward on the city's mobile food policy, unanimously approving a resolution that will allow food pod events in Districts 1-4 until January 2013. Before the vote, twenty-seven different people made statements on the resolution, with the overwhelming majority speaking in favor. Even the president of the Oakland Restaurant Association, an organization that seems allergic to mobile food, spoke out in support.
Tuesday night, Oakland City Council votes on a temporary resolution to allow food pod events while a more comprehensive mobile-food policy is being established. Underscoring the need for a sensible policy, the police cracked down on all the mobile food vendors at Friday's Art Murmur, issuing tickets and forcing them to leave.
Within an hour of writing this post on Cafe Gratitude's closing, I got an email from Stephen Sommers, the plaintiffs' attorney in two of the cafe's employment lawsuits. Since the initial Facebook announcement, Sommers has been popping up in every news outlet that will give him a couple of column inches. His basic two cents: there's no way these piddling lawsuits could put such a large enterprise out of business.
History shows us that social justice movements often start with one agitator for change. For restaurant workers in Oakland, Katie Lefkowitz may just be that firebrand.