A restaurant is charging white customers more to highlight racial wealth inequality
A restaurant in New Orleans is hoping to raise awareness of racial wealth differences in the country by charging white customers more.
SAARTJ is a pop-up restaurant in the Louisiana city run by local Nigerian chef Tunde Wey who will be charging white customers $18 (£13) extra for their meal.
Much like the cafe in Melbourne, Australia which charged a 'man-tax' due to the gender pay gap, SAARTJ is charging an increase to highlight the racial pay gap in New Orleans.
In 2013, a study found that the average household income of an African-American in the city was 54 per cent lower than that of a white person.
Customers have two price options to choose from. Either $12 (£8.66) or the suggested price of $30 (£21.66).
As Tunde explains the standard price is available to everyone, but only white customers will be asked to consider the suggested price.
Speaking to Civil Eats he said:
The standard price was available to all customers, while the suggested price was offered to white customers.
The pricing differential represents the wage disparity between black and white households in New Orleans.
The net profit collected from sales at the suggested price was redistributed to customers of colour.
The temporary scheme only ran for a month at the venue but it proved to be successful and helped create discussions.
Around 78 per cent of white customers have chosen to pay the extra fee, which he believes comes through "positive social pressure" and the need to feel like someone is doing something to help others.
Refusing to pay more comes off as anti-social and people don’t want to be judged for that.
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.
The success of the project has helped raise awareness amongst all social groups. Although he has faced some objections, it has mostly been well received.
Even black customers have offered to pay the higher price, but he insisted that it wasn't necessary for them.
You may be wondering where the extra cash is going to. Rather than going straight back into the business Tunde is hoping to redistribute back to his black customers, but he only managed to find six people who have signed up for the scheme.
However, the overall aim of the project, which concluded on March 4 was to educate people about racial wealth inequality and hope that the facts linger in their mind long after finishing their meal.
We’re told that if you work hard you’ll become wealthy—and that’s not true.
We want to provoke further thinking.
SAARTJ, which is named after the famous story of an enslaved South African who was toured around Europe in a
freak show, now have another pop-up planned in Detroit, Michigan.
The restaurant will be open between April 29 and May 5 from 7pm each night.