Altruistic restaurant bashed unfairly

By By Liz Carlston

By Liz Carlston

Inexperience and not implementing proven business practices seems to be the main problem for the non-profit One World Cafe at 41 S. 300 East. The restaurant touts no menus and encourages customers to pay whatever they think the meal is worth.

But if you ask Rush Limbaugh, it is the liberal ideology behind One World Cafe that is causing the current struggle.

In October, employee paychecks bounced, a long-time manager was fired and the rest of the staff walked out in protest. Bringing the issue to national prominence through his “golden microphone,” Limbaugh singled out the restaurant as a symbol of what to expect of an Obama presidency.

“It’s not just mismanagement, these are a bunch of liberals,” Limbaugh said. “These are liberals playing games with the reality known as business. The owner finally figures out she’s not making a profit and blames it on the fact that she doesn’t have enough business experience and so forth. And these same kinds of people we’ve just put in charge of much of the federal government.”

Limbaugh is out of line. Restaurant founder Denise Cerreta and her chefs make entrées, soups, salads and desserts from organic meats and locally grown produce. They have been in business for five years and turned a 4 to 6 percent profit through 2007 according to the One World Web site.

The cafe even provides volunteer options for those who would prefer a “hand up” rather than a hand out. Rather than provide One World Cafe with free advertising while pushing his conservative agenda, it would be more effective to talk about the good things the restaurant is doing for the community.

One World Cafe governing board member Don Merrill said the basic idea of “helping people fill their stomachs and their spirits” will be maintained under the new management.

When the organization started, it operated without much structure. Later, demands for accountability and efficiency required the non-profit to become not less altruistic, but more professional as time went on.

“There is an arc to altruistic endeavors like this,” Merrill said. “It’s been difficult and painful, but people just felt it was moving away from meeting those new expectations.”

Nobody is forcing any kind of ideology here. As always, we are presented with opposing liberal and conservative ideas. A restaurant needs to operate on solid business practices in order to make money, otherwise it’ll go out of business and no one can eat there. As long as the restaurant makes money, it doesn’t matter what kind of ideology it subscribes to.

It sounds like One World Cafe is making changes to return to profitability, but it will take time to see if those changes will work. Capitalism only requires voluntary agreement by buyer and seller. If you think altruism is antithetical to capitalism, you’ve been drinking the Limbaugh Kool-Aid.

[email protected]

Liz Carlston

Willus Branham