Vegan Political-Activist Restaurant Closes After Customers No Longer Willing To Wait 40 Minutes For A Sandwich

RealClear Staff


     A Grand Rapids, Michigan, restaurant closed its doors after customers became intolerant of its odd hours, high prices and long lines.

[Front of Bartertown Diner and Roc's Cafe | Photo: George Wietor]

Bartertown Diner (also known as Garden Diner and Café) was a “Marxist,” “collectivist,” “worker-run” restaurant. No matter—people will eat just about anywhere if the food’s good, right? (Wrong.) This joint offered vegan, vegetarian and raw-food selections that originally gained national notoriety. However, their business model, which forbade the employment of any bosses or managers, guaranteed a “living wage” and solid union to all its workers, simply wasn’t made to make enough money to stay afloat.


[Post: Garden Diner & Cafe]

Even while their cuisine earned acclaim on VegNews’s “10 Hot New Vegan Restaurants” list, patrons were appalled at the almost impossibility of getting a meal there. People constantly posted on the diner’s Facebook about having to wait almost an hour for items as easy as a sandwich—and that’s when the place was even open! Because the employees set the hours of operation (a group decision), the café opened and closed at non-specific times. This “system” made for confounded customers and hangry guests.

The employees soon discovered those Marxist-Leninist bread lines were a bug rather than a component of Communism. Additionally, the restaurant frequently posted political statements on Reddit—Grand Rapids residents didn’t much stand for that and the fact Bartertown often offered them some Che Guevara alongside every order of bahn mi and two-dollar taco. Their customers were ultimately insulted and baffled by Bartertown’s “equal pay, no tipping” policy, which seemed to salt exceptional service. They even made mention on the diner’s message board that “you shouldn’t try running your business on political good will alone.”

Bartertown’s inclusive, progressive politics were not a crowd pleaser for everyone. While they offered free meals to Grand Rapids police officers as a gratitude gift for keeping the community safe, the city’s socialists suffered irritation. Those folks balked at the business quashing their own core values by forming an alliance with fascists and basically perpetuating a “nearly all-white police force in this era of police violence.”

[Photo: Adam Bird]

After losing an uphill battle, Bartertown closed permanently, learning the negative characteristics that have plagued Communism for over a century. One Grand Rapidian even stated, “You can’t make payroll and your bills with Facebook and Tumblr ‘likes.’”

The owner actually admitted his mistake. Upon being asked about his next venture, he told he would be “taking a vacation”—but he’s a Communist, right?



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