Food for Thought: A Socially Conscious Restaurant Project
There is power in bringing people together over food, serving people, and enhancing the quality of life of others within the community.
Founded by Zorina Price, the purpose of Zys_Oakland is to offer second chances to vetted nonviolent ex-offenders by prioritizing outreach to those most marginalized and with the most significant barriers to self-sustainability. The lack of reentry initiatives has left the youth of Oakland underutilized, and Zys_Oakland is creating jobs within the community to contribute to economic growth and development. Oakland’s inefficient reentry programs have led to:
• 65% of released offenders return to jail within 3 years of release without assistance to reintegrate.
• 3 out of 10 previously incarcerated individuals are able to successfully re-enter society on their own.
• $3.6 million dollars in taxpayer money is SAVED for every 100 ex-offenders who avoid rearrest or living on welfare.
Zys_Oakland is more than just a restaurant; it is backed by a social consciousness that enhances the entire community by elevating the lives of those affected by the criminal justice system. Partnering with reentry programs aids @Zys_Oakland in providing access to economic stability through consistent employment. By seeing the value in people, they are incentivized to become the best versions of themselves. People deserve second chances to live their life with purpose and value, and the foundation of Zys_Oakland is based off a proven model to create opportunities in a scalable manner.
Not only do ex-offenders deal with the stigma of a criminal record, they are discriminated against, paid less money and overlooked for many types of jobs entirely. Access to entrepreneurial skills, competencies, and employment are necessary for marginalized members of the community to advance into careers. It’s not just job training, it’s a whole life plan.
Zys_Oakland emerged from food being an essential focus of human activity. In response to the scarcity of environmentally sustainable vegetarian cuisine in Oakland, the restaurant will partner with reentry based farms, urban gardens, and greenhouses that are aligned with the values of investing in a restorative and cohesive community. It is imperative to strategically align this venture with community organizations, and continue to develop partnerships with organic growers in order to yield reciprocity, collaboration, knowledge exchange, and shared labor.
Being health conscious, ecologically minded and providing the most delicious ingredients are interdependent and work very well together.
In addition to Oakland emerging as an up and coming culinary destination, the East Bay culture is becoming more aware of the benefits of healthier, plant-based lifestyles. Zys_Oakland will source all of its produce and ingredients hyper-locally, minimizing the carbon footprint and transportation costs, while supporting organic cultivation methods. Cooking with local ingredients that are fresher in flavor and higher in nutrient retention showcases the produce so diners can appreciate the superb taste of vegetables. Everything in the restaurant will be prepared from scratch, in a rustic style that elevates flavors instead of manipulating them. Zys_Oakland caters to a sophisticated clientele with a seasonal tasting menu that is reflective of California’s Harvest Cycle.
Zys_Oakland will be a hospitality-inclusive dining experience. As a company, we will provide the highest level of service, and therefore compensate employees with above-market wages to ensure the exceptional level of professionalism to which our clientele is accustomed. Imagine a community brought together a by a restaurant that improves the lives of its employees while also catering to its customers.
The social and environmental disparity in California has impacted Zorina so deeply that it was the inspiration for her to embark on this entrepreneurial endeavor. Her wealth of experience working in the food and beverage industry in Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco provided her with valuable industry knowledge that will ensure the overall success of this project. Zorina worked alongside entrepreneurs and investors to build teams and organize business operations in the hospitality space, resulting in successful industry ventures. Another passion of Zorina’s is mentoring employees in their careers to support them in their professional pursuits.
Zys_Oakland needs your support to bring this dream to life. Your contribution will provide jobs, promote economic development, create community engagement, and support local and sustainable plant-based cuisine.
The Small Business Administration reports that 65% of ALL jobs in the US are created by small businesses. And 50% of our GDP is produced by small businesses - yet only 17% of business receive traditional financing. Now let's imagine what it could mean for our economy and for our all of our dreams if this financing number could increase.
As Zorina is fully committed to realizing this vision, she will match the full amount raised on Kickstarter. Any contribution is appreciated, and we encourage you to follow @zys_oakland on social media, and share this campaign with your friends, family and followers. Thank you for listening, reading, sharing and supporting!
This passion project, Zys_Oakland, has been a dream for a decade & now I need your help to bring the dream alive!
Start-up costs. 100% of funds raised will go directly into creating this restaurant. No one is being paid a commission or a salary. With careful budgeting and thoughtful projections, I have determined what funding will help cover:
- License & Permits (ex. DOB & DOH)
- Build Out of space / Renovations (contractors)
- Additional Kitchen Equipment
- Utility Assessments
- ABC Liquor License
- Kitchen Incubator rental to finalize recipes
Matching my private investment will allow me to focus on staffing, strengthening community alliances, culinary programming & initiatives and raising awareness.
I believe anyone going into businesses should be socially-conscious and create a social enterprise that is part of the movement to enhance the quality of life outside of just our own because we are all connected.
Funding on KICKSTARTER is ALL-or-NOTHING. Even if you’re not able to contribute, if you would be willing to share my KICKSTARTER page with your network of family and friends I would be grateful because the more people who know about the project, the more chance I have of succeeding.
Thank you so much for your the time to learn about this fundraising campaign. If you believe in me and want to see this project come to fruition, please contribute what you can; because It takes a KICKSTARTER community to raise a restaurant :)
With Endless Gratitude, Zorina
AWESOMENESS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: thank you to my friends for helping with this project
Alexandra Liss/ Brandon E Campbell BCam / Chelsea Kane / Grace Bixby / Hailey Mahan / /Zeshawn Ahmed - Advisors & Sanity Specialists
Child Li - GRAPHIC DESIGN / Talent & Fellow Foodie
Christopher Hernandez - VIDEO / Magician
Gregg Marks - EDITOR/ Wizard
Remote Year Crew that attended Launch - Friendly Focus Group
“The unimaginable is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law
Risks and challenges
Starting a restaurant is costly but reducing the rate of recidivism is worth the risk. That being said, Oakland is concentrated with a diverse set of health-conscious and culinary inquisitive people; this will work toward the success of the restaurant.
The biggest reason restaurants fail is underestimating the cost to open, from hiring to stocking the kitchen to getting a lease. There must be enough funds to operate for months. I will be onsite owner/operator who understands these nuances.
Location & Permits for necessary buildout, yet I am confident that everything will go as planned because of my project management on three restaurant projects that I management from concept to first years in business. And I am industrious & super scrappy.
Getting the East Bay clientele familiar with my price point & menu model. The restaurant will pay employees a living wage, offer insurance, will be gratuity inclusive, as well as work with perishable & the freshest seasonal ingredients; therefore the restaurant will be priced slightly higher. Zys_Oakland will be transparent in communicating this information to customers. Gentrification has changed the landscape of restaurant industry. Higher-end restaurants being sought out.
Competitors - Oakland location, I have looked at the local vegetarian food offerings and how my restaurant would fit within the market. I would maintain a competitive edge by offering the highest quality local ingredients, phenomenal service at a reasonable price-point. ZYS_Oakland will position itself as a destination venue.
Hiring the previously incarcerated may seem like a risk. A lack of information regarding employing people with criminal backgrounds can make employers hesitant to hire. Offering jobs to previously incarcerated population has the power to reduce the negative impact of recidivism in the communities we are all apart of. I intend to focus on offering professional training & community programs that help marginalized groups of people in the community get back on their feet. I care immensely about assisting with reentry into society for those typically left behind.
Sourcing and retaining team members - this is something restaurants struggle with. I believe individuals who share my passion for the industry and values for the business enterprise, will be dedicated to the culture. I will eliminate tipping and pay above market average, livable wages and this will help guarantee consistency and stability. I want the team members to know they make up a very important part of the business. I will build a team with synergy, that is committed to successfully working alongside one another.
Building Zys_Oaklnd brand. I will need to build out my customer base. My initial marketing focus will be to raise awareness of my purpose by attending community board meetings and events as well as social media outreach as the project gains momentum.
Having too large of a menu is a risk. Large menus create problems within the operation. Large menus require large inventory. The more ingredients needed, the more items on hand. Every item represents a possibility for loss. It can be stolen, it can be mishandled, mis-prepped or stored incorrectly and spoiled. The fewer inventory items, the less waste. The less waste, the more profit. This is why the tasting menu will be focused and direct.
Beer & Wine Licenses are scarce in Oakland. I am currently sourcing the right deal on securing the license. These are limited and current owners know this and can charge high cost, therefore I am working with a seasoned professional to locate the right deal.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (27 days)