St. Louis restaurateur Gerard Craft discusses why your vote matters for the future of restaurants
As the November election approaches, we’re talking to the local food community and asking them to comment on why this election matters for St. Louis’ restaurants.
Here, Gerard Craft, chef and co-owner of Niche Food Group, talks about why immigration is an important issue for restaurants, his support for the Biden-Harris ticket, and how he’s begun to think about running a restaurant as a matter not only of dollars and cents but also of human rights.
“The restaurant industry has been built on the backs of immigrants. So much of American cuisine, starting with Italian food, which was ostracized [at first], Chinese food, Vietnamese food – all the food we look to is from somewhere else.”
“So much of the workforce in kitchens I’ve worked in were workers from Mexico, Honduras. They’re doing all the hard work. You go to California, you go into any restaurant, and over 80 percent of any restaurant’s staff is built off of workers from Mexico. The majority, they’ve been the hardest working people I’ve ever worked with in my entire life – people I honestly felt ashamed around, because I only had one job, and I was tired. There were people who had three jobs and were living with 10 or more people in a small apartment. Not criminals, not rapists – people with family values who were amazing cooks and servers, people who invited me into their homes at Thanksgiving when I didn’t have family around.”
“Before [the pandemic], we were at a place with record unemployment. We needed more people – every restaurant needed people to work. It's not like we were at point where this guy was taking this other guy’s job. If we’re going to grow as a country, we need to attract more people, wherever they’re from.”
“I strongly support [Joe] Biden and [Kamala] Harris as well as representatives out there working to potentially flip the Senate [to be majority Democratic]. Biden-Harris have a much softer look on immigration and want to open our doors and be more welcoming.”
“When I hear about people in [the restaurant] industry who are voting for Trump, a lot the pro-business type stuff pops out, like [Biden’s plan for] raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. But restaurants are built up on huge groups of amazing people. It’s about human rights, not just business issues. I don’t know how anyone could look their employees in the eyes and make choices that don’t benefit their human rights.”
“About a month ago my Mom told me I should ‘separate my politics from my noodles’ – meaning that talking about my political views publicly would hurt my business. My response was that the mishandling of this pandemic has cost us more than any post on social media ever could.”
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