Are Co-ops the Future of a Sustainable Restaurant Industry?

Desmond says she sees a resurgence of interest in co-ops largely because worker-owner turnover is extremely low. The majority of the Lakeshore Arizmendi's current 30 worker-owners have been there for more than 13 years. Since Desmond started in 2000, the number of owners has doubled and sales have quadrupled, she said.

Desmond ultimately stuck around because of the co-op model. The single mom works part-time as a cashier, bookkeeper, and human resources manager.

"It's made a very big difference in my life," she said. "It's a rare kind of stability in this economy. I'm able to survive in the Bay Area working 22 hours a week."

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