On Monday, the Columbus City Council passed a resolution highlighting the achievements of African American restaurant owners, operators, chefs, managers, dishwashers, bartenders and wait staff in our area:
WHEREAS, African Americans in the City of Columbus make up a significant portion of the labor force, working as elected officials, CEOs, teachers, police officers, technicians, physicians, entrepreneurs and all other professions. Today we specifically highlight African Americans in our community who have leveraged the restaurant industry as a platform for pursuing their vision of the American dream; and
WHEREAS, African American restaurateurs exemplify our local entrepreneurs and employers, undergoing great risk and sacrifice to pursue their passion for the culinary arts, meanwhile opening doors of opportunity for a team to succeed alongside them,
WHEREAS, African American managers and operators are the backbone of the City of Columbus’ thriving hospitality industry, ensuring our city’s cultural core is running smoothly for all citizens to enjoy; and
WHEREAS, African American restaurant employees – the chefs, hosts, dishwashers, bartenders, and wait staff – are the heart of City of Columbus’ unwavering character, using their jobs as a springboard to a meaningful career in hospitality, a way to fund a college education, or a skill base for any professional pursuit; and
WHEREAS, nationally, four in 10 restaurant businesses are majority-owned by minority business owners, and the number of African American-owned restaurants increased by 49 percent between 2007 and 2012; and
WHEREAS, in 2014, 56 percent of first-line supervisors and managers of food preparation and service workers were African-American and restaurants employ more minority managers than any other industry, demonstrating the success of African Americans in our hospitality industry…
On hand for the presentation were Dorian Wingard and Monda Ervin, principals in The KING Room – located in Columbus’ Red Brick District – which features live music and high-end alcoholic beverages. Both are entrepreneurs who are new to the restaurant and hospitality industry.
“It’s bigger than us. South of High Street, you don’t have anything like this (The KING Room) Downtown. You don’t have places like this owned and operated by people who look like us,” said Wingard. “We will be excellent at what we do so we’re not the only ones here in 5 years.”
One former member of City Council – who has recently elected the first African American member of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners – certainly appreciates the value that comes from working in the restaurant industry. His first job was at McDonald’s.
He recalls the discipline and responsibility that his time in the restaurant industry taught him, and how he applies those lessons to his role as a public servant.
“I think about the constituents I serve, and I think of them as my customers. I need to be responsible to them and provide them service, or product, to the best of my ability,” Boyce said.
He also credits the restaurant industry with another valuable skill: making hotcakes for his annual Pancake Breakfast!