A “Marxist” “collectivist” “worker-run” restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan, closed its doors this week after customers complained that they could no longer tolerate the bizarre hours, high prices and long lines.
The Garden Diner and Cafe—previously known as the Bartertown Diner—featured a vegan, vegetarian and raw food menu that had met with significant national acclaim. But the restaurant’s business model, which did not allow for bosses or managers, promised a “living wage” to all employees and a strong union, did not allow the restaurant to make enough profit to stay in business.
Worse still, while the food earned Bartertown a spot on VegNews’s “10 Hot New Vegan Restaurants” list, customers complained that it was almost impossible to get a meal at the diner.
People frequently noted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that they waited more than 40 minutes for a sandwich—and that’s when the diner was even open. Because the employees set the shop’s hours by group decision, the restaurant opened and closed at random times, leaving potential sandwich buyers totally confused.
It turns out, in a shocking revelation to the store’s management, that those Soviet bread lines were a bug, not a feature of Communism.
On Reddit, the restaurant’s frequent political statements produced fiery confrontations. Some Grand Rapids residents resented that Bartertown offered them a side of Che Guevara with every bahn mi and $2 taco. Customers also complained that the restaurants “equal pay, no tipping” scheme failed to reward exceptional service, pointing out on the message board that “you shouldn’t try running your business on political good will alone.”
Even Bartertown’s inclusive, progressive politics couldn’t please everyone in their community. When the diner offered a free meal to Grand Rapids police officers as a “thank you” for keeping their neighborhood safe, local socialists complained that the business was abrogating its core ideals by siding with fascists and supporting “nearly all-white police force in this era of police violence.”
So, in a no-win situation, and discovering first hand the troubles that have plagued Communism for more than a century, the restaurant was forced to close its doors. As one community member put it, they discovered that “you can’t make payroll and your bills with Facebook and Tumblr ‘likes.'”
The owner, for his part, is admitting his mistake. When asked what his next venture would be, he told MLive.com that he was “taking a vacation.”