A Pay-As-You-Wish Entrée Underpins the Philosophy at Understory in Oakland

Carrie Honaker

Understory is a workers’ collective first and a restaurant second. Launched in 2021, with financial backing from nonprofit Oakland Bloom, the restaurant prioritizes livable wages, workers’ rights, shared leadership, and creative food. 

“It feels like a rare opportunity to engage in these important conversations around food and politics,” says Florencio Esquivel, a co-founder of the Oakland, Calif., worker-owned restaurant and bar.

In addition to Esquivel, Understory’s leadership...