Olympia’s New Moon Cafe is undergoing new management, transitioning from a traditional owner-operated system to a co-op of 14 different owners.
Current owner Dylan Elkhart plans to leave his business of five years to go back to school, putting it the hands of a group that consists of current employees, food-service workers and community members.
The idea sparked from a committee dubbed “The Black Moon,” whose members were looking for ways to open up their own restaurant, according to Matt Beaudoin, one of the new owners of the New Moon Cafe.
“We were seeing what was available in town and were throwing around ideas with Dylan … he seemed responsive to stepping back from ownership and letting us step in owning the restaurant,” said Beaudoin, an employee of the restaurant since 2010.
Beaudoin said he is looking forward to becoming more involved with his career through the new type of ownership.
“I want to be a part of it in a more productive way instead of just coming in and cooking and leaving,” Beaudoin said.
The New Moon itself will not change, with Beaudoin emphasizing the shared need to keep the restaurant up to their current customer expectations.
“We’d like to improve some things and expand into more cooperatively and locally sourced ingredients, but currently our goal is to maintain the feel and standards the New Moon has,” Beaudoin said.
Brita Zeiler, a recent Evergreen State College graduate and co-owner of the restaurant, has experience working in a cooperatively managed restaurant.
She worked at The Flaming Eggplant Cafe on campus after spending six years working in the restaurant business.
The change of pace at The Flaming Eggplant was refreshing, she said.
“I always worked for a chef or a boss,” Zelier said. “Coming into The Eggplant, I had choices to make and autonomy over what I was going to do on my shift and committee position.”
Having that freedom allowed Zeiler to expand and explore her skill set.
“It opened up an opportunity for my skills to develop and the confidence for those skills to develop,” Zeiler said. “With my peers telling me this is great or we should do this differently, I felt more low stakes and more open for constructive criticism.”
Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org @chelseakrotzer