ROC National Diners’ Guide: The People’s Zagat’s!

I’ve talked before on The Big Ceci about my obsession with restaurants. I worked in the industry for most of college, and that experience left me with a deep, unshakeable love for restaurants. I love the celebration and specialness inherent to the ritual of going out to eat. I love the anticipation of walking into a new spot and taking in the scene for the first time. And when I used to work at a restaurant, I loved that, too–the pace; the way, on a good night, you built momentum until eventually you were flying around the floor like the Energizer Bunny; the camaraderie you built with the other people in the building who were crazy enough to be doing it with you.

But the restaurant industry is also deeply complicated, and there is nothing simple about loving it. Issues run the gamut from class and accessibility to questions about what it means that people in the U.S. are eating out more than ever. And close to the top of the list of those issues is worker exploitation. “Loving restaurants” starts to get real murky when the person on the other side of the kitchen door has worked 30 hours so far and is only two days into their week–and is getting paid less than minimum wage.

Which is why I’m excited to take this opportunity to spread the word on The Big Ceci about a free new publication to keep you informed about what’s going on behind the kitchen doors at the restaurants you visit – the ROC National Diners’ Guide 2012!

In ROC‘s own words:

“WE ALL ENJOY EATING OUT.

“Unfortunately, the workers who cook, prepare, and serve our food suffer from poverty wages, no benefits like paid sick days, and little or no chance to move up to better positions. When the people who serve us food can’t afford to pay the rent or take a day off when they’re sick, our dining experience suffers.

“The newly released ROC National Diners’ Guide 2012 provides information on the wage, benefits, and promotion practices of the 150 most popular restaurants in America. The Guide lists responsible restaurants where you can eat knowing that your server can afford to pay the rent and your cook isn’t working while sick.”

The guide is available for free download here.