Restaurants Opportunities Centers New York City (ROC-NY): NYC Food Based Community Organization Spotlight

by Cameron St. Germain

What they do: The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York is a membership-based workers’ center organizing for improved conditions for New York City restaurant workers.

How they do it:

1- They are building a base of restaurant workers

2- They are organizing workers for improved working conditions

3- They conduct Research and Policy to inform ourselves and the community about the state of the industry, including pervasive issues affecting workers and putting a damper on the industry’s reputation

4- They promote the High Road to profitability and hold up ‘high road’ employers as models to the restaurant industry

5- They provide free front of the house and back of the house training to thousands of workers or those who interested in working in the industry through our C.H.O.W. Institute

Mission:The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) is dedicated to winning improved conditions for restaurant workers and raising public recognition of restaurant workers’ contributions to the city.

Latest project/campaign: N/A

Major Funding: N/A

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual budget: N/A

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York was initially founded in New York City by Fekkak Mamdouh and Saru Jayaraman after September 11th, 2001 to provide support to restaurant workers displaced as a result of the World Trade Center tragedy. Based on our successful efforts in New York City, restaurant workers in several other cities approached ROC about initiating chapters in their cities. Thus, in 2008 we launched the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has grown into a national organization with 18,000 low-wage restaurant worker members in 15 states.



  • 275 7th Ave. Suite 1703
  • New York, NY, 10001

Core Programs: COLORS Restaurants, CHOW job training program, RAISE, Diners United

Number of staff: 30

Number of volunteers: N/A

Areas served:

  • Bronx
  • Brooklyn
  • Manhattan
  • Staten Island
  • Queens
  • New York State
  • National

Date started: 2001


Saru Jayaraman

Fekkak Mamdouh

Contact information:

(212) 343-1661

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