Czech Republic: Romani entrepreneur employs almost all Romani workers in cafeteria
A cafeteria that is staffed almost exclusively by Romani workers opened two weeks ago in the Czech town of Trmice (Ústecký Region). Romani entrepreneur Martin Bajger is running it and plans to expand its services.
Bajger has long been in the construction business. He came to run the cafeteria completely by accident while looking for a venue for a friend's wedding.
"We were looking to rent the venue for one day. They told us it was only available through a long-term lease. I immediately dived in and said yes, I'm interested in a long-term lease. That's how the cafeteria came about," he told the Czech News Agency.
It took three months to prepare the opening. "We were climbing around here on our hands and knees, scrubbing everything with brushes. It was crazy, but we did it," Bajger said.
Even though the owner of the building provided the new tenants with most of the fixtures they needed, including expensive equipment for the kitchen, Bajger said the costs for starting the business were high. "It's no joke to open a cafeteria today. Most of the equipment comes with the lease, but some things we had to buy ourselves," he explained.
The cafeteria is serving between 80 and 90 meals a day, and more than three-quarters of the customers are employees of the nearby power plant. "Locals come too, though," Bajger said.
Currently the cafeteria has six employees. With the exception of the head cook, all of them are Romani.
Bajger sought the employees through the Labor Office. He gets a subsidy for their wages.
"These are people who like this work and want to do it. We don't worry about whether they are Romani or white, they're just people who want to work," Bajger said.
The cafeteria is seeking two more employees. The firm has not yet chosen them from among the Labor Office candidates.
"It's all sorts. I can't speak for people and say whether they want to work or not, everybody is different," Bajger said.
The cafeteria is banking mostly on serving typical Czech cusine. "We are doing our best to figure out what people want most, whether they prefer sauce-based dishes or ones that are more like fast food. We serve three main dishes and one soup," head cook Petra Škorpilová told the Czech News Agency.
Bajger wants to expand the cafeteria's services in future. "We would like to expand to include food delivery to various factories. We'll see how we do with fitting that in. For the time being, everything seems rosy to us, but we'll see what the future holds," Bajger said.
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