New Orleans restaurant asks whites to pay more in name of wealth redistribution

On Thursday, Civil Eats reported that a so-called “pop-up” restaurant in New Orleans is conducting a somewhat unusual experiment.  According to the report, a restaurant called Saartj is asking white customers to pay more in the name of wealth redistribution.

According to Civil Eats:

The pop-up, which ends on March 4, is called Saartj, and on the surface it looks like any other shop in the food hall: the menu is Nigerian and the dishes vegetarian, an ode to the chef’s upbringing. The atmosphere is that of a quick-service lunch counter where guests grab lunch quickly and return to their office or find a spot in the food hall to sit and eat.

After the guests order from a menu that includes dishes like fermented cassava dumpling and fried plantains with palm oil-blanched peppers, the experience starts to differ from the other stalls in the food court. After they order, Wey tells each diner about the nation’s racial wealth gap, pointing to stark facts, such as higher education increases a Black family’s median income by $60,000, where as it increases a white family’s median income by $113,000.

“I start by asking them what they think the racial wealth gap is and then share stats about [how it manifests in] New Orleans and nationally,” he told Civil Eats.

Afterward, guests are given two options: White customers can either pay $12 for lunch or the suggested price of $30. Black customers are charged $12 and also given the option to collect the $18 paid by a white patron as a way to redistribute wealth.

The Daily Wire has more:

Wey also asks his white customers personal questions like “have you ever inherited money or received gifts from family like a car, college tuition payments or other high value gifts?”

Once the conversation finishes, Wey then asks his white customers how much they will pay. The “white guilt” definitely pays off, with close to 78% of his white customers paying more than double the required price, according to Wey. This guilt, which Wey calls “positive social pressure,” is entirely intentional and designed to elicit payment.

“Refusing to pay more comes off as anti-social and people don’t want to be judged for that,” Wey said. “People look on the other side of the till and see me standing there and they’re thinking that I’m judging them. If they couldn’t pay a higher amount, they gave a me a list of caveats why they couldn’t.”

If white customers dar to ask where the money goes, Wey scolds them for trying to make their “wealth virtuous.”

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Interesting enough, Civil Eats said, 76 percent of the black diners refused to accept the $18 they were offered. “Black people have even tried to pay the $30 and I’m like ‘No, it’s not for you,’” he said, according to the report.

“A lot of the Black folks said, ‘I don’t need that money, give it to someone else who needs it,’” Wey added.

Moreover, Wey said, one “liberal fellow” actually objected to the whole idea.

“He paid the lower amount and his reason was ideological,” Wey told Civil Eats. “He thought interpersonal interactions that discuss race and class actually distract from larger discussions and that the issue is best addressed by civic engagement and voting.”

So much for injecting race and wealth redistribution into lunch…


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