A new eatery opening in Center City in Philadelphia will have an unusual business model.
The founders are creating the business as a cooperative — where profits will be shared among the business’s employees.
The name of the new venture is Win-Win. As in, a win for the customers, and a win for all 8 founders of the coffee shop and bar planned for 9th and Spring Garden streets.
The owners are still cleaning out a former Thai restaurant, complete with a mirrored wall and chunky sixties-era bar. The dusty storefront has sat empty for the last five years.
Alden Towler, who currently works in the kitchen of a farm-to-table restaurant says he feels motivated by the project’s sense of mission.
“I can’t tell you how many friends I have who basically clock in and clock out,” he noted. “I think that part of what this model really supports is that each of the workers and the partners is doing out of labor of love.”
Seven of the eight partners have worked in food service jobs.
“People at the bar,” Towler added, “have a lot of experience putting together draft lists and cocktails. People in coffee have been doing this for a long time so they really know what they’re doing.”
His colleague, Lanie Belmont, who for three years operated a food truck called Yum Town refers to this division of labor as the group’s “communal resume.”
“Having the headaches spread a among eight people is an immediate relief,” she said.
The team also includes an architect and a veteran developer.
“When five people in their 20s come to a guy like me who’s 60 and say, ‘Do you want to be in this club?’ I couldn’t say no,” explained the developer, Kevin Gillen.
Win-Win business meetings, he added, have a different vibe than any he’s attended in his 35 years in construction.
“It has this very aspirational kind of drive to it,” said Gillen, “that’s up in the clouds but at the same time think it’s got this very strong foundation of people.”
Besides Towler, Belmont and Gillen, the partners include Tony Montagnaro, a recent Temple grad who explained he grew up in his family’s pizza shop in New Jersey, Max Kochinke, David Frazee, Will Darwall and Mike Dunican.
“I think the glue that holds it all together is we’re trying to put all the power in the people that make the business what it is,” said Montagnaro.
In addition to the cooking, the bartending and coffee-brewing, the Win-Win collective will renovate the space themselves. They hope to open the doors June first.