By Cat Wurdack
400 SE 12th Ave.
7 days 11 am – 9 pm
The Red and Black! The all-vegan worker-owned cooperative restaurant and community space on SE 12th at the corner of Stark St. is dedicated to providing education for worker’s rights and advocating for the underserved. It is unionized with the Portland branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). All workers at the cafe are union members.
The Red and Black is a self-described “hub of radical activity.”
Fundraisers, prisoner letter-writing nights, animal liberation speakers and workshops, music events, and independent-film nights are always free to the community. While the cafe is steadfastly vegan, the website notes that it is “friendly to omnivores.”
No minimum purchase is required to access free wifi on the computer terminals, charge a phone, or simply relax and enjoy any events.
“We are a seven-member-strong collective,” says cafe worker Ryan Gaughan about the non-hierarchical, democratically-run business. “There’s no boss and we’re all paid the same wage for the same work.”
Collective members integrate as many elements of socially-just business practice as possible. This includes buying fair trade coffee from Equal Exchange, using a bike trailer for restaurant errands, and practicing zero tolerance for any sort of discrimination at the café.
Workers may eventually become fully invested in the business. The idea is to re-distribute net profits to workers as dividends, but that hasn’t happened yet.
For now, the collective pays workers the best it can while making the mortgage on the building they purchased two years ago, meeting property tax obligations, and paying off personal loans borrowed for the down payment on the building. Money made from the cafe is often augmented by community fundraising.
What to eat here: spicy peanut noodles (or rice) with ginger-baked tofu, beets or avocado; braised kale over seasoned quinoa; carrot, ginger, and potato soup; and side orders of roasted beets, braised kale and ginger-baked tofu.
Noteworthy beverages include kombucha on tap, the Dirty Mindy, a mocha spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, and Italian sodas with house-made lavender or hibiscus syrups.
During happy hour — 4 pm to 7 pm daily–beer and kombucha on tap are discounted as well as some food items. Union members enjoy discount prices all day on Wednesdays.
Check out The Red and Black’s website (www.redandblackcafe.com) for upcoming music and film events.