As many of you know, Ryan Cappelletti is leaving Bartertown Diner to open Cult Pizza two doors down. tonight, Friday, March 29, will be his last shift with us, so come on down for dinner to see what he’s got up his sleeve. Here’s a few parting words:
Look out for what’s coming next!
This Friday will be my last shift as head chef at Bartertown diner and It’s been a wild, wild ride to say the least!
I signed the lease on the space back on December 1, 2010 when we scored 6 months of free rent and a chance to make this dream come true. In that time we ripped down walls, we tore up floors, and learned how to make a functioning restaurant one mess up at a time. We went through it all in that time and at points it felt like this just was not going to happen. We had no money and were wither with no jobs or working dead end jobs, and debts to pay. We would get get $50 and we spend half on beer to stay sane and half on paint to get something done. Some days seemed hopeful and some days seemed very bleak. Either way, we knew that if somehow could just stay dedicated we could make this happen.
We had so many ideas; all the talk of change in an industry that desperately needed it. We also built a strong community of supporters that we could not let down. Even during the local protest of Bartertown for the murals of Che Guevara and Mao along with Ronny Reagan, we knew we could not back down. We want and need this in west Michigan. A no bullshit, no front kinda joint; just good food and honest people. We plowed through the local protesters with the help of friends like the IWW union and a strong community that wanted Bartertown diner to open.
After all that, we finally opened on June 23, 2011! On the first day we lost power, on the second day we set off the sprinkler system, and on the third day I think power went out again.
We only had one choice and that was to move forward and keep putting out awesome food. I recall the first complaint: the caller asked for a free coupon for a sandwich that she said was awful and I said, “Well let’s talk about this,”
“No, I just want a free sandwich,” she replied.
So, I said, “Well we don’t just hand out free coupons, lets figure this out and discuss it like normal people.”
This blew her mind and she had no idea how to react. We wanted people to understand that we are humans, we are servers not servants, and we don’t think the customer is always right because that makes no sense to us nor should it to you. We’ve supported the idea of worker rights and treating workers with respect for the entire time we’ve been open, and still do, but Bartertown is lucky because it started with a group of people who truly understood it!
For the most part, I truly love the people who come into Bartertown. I feel like you are all family and I truly loved feeding you all.
Bartertown is living proof that your dreams can come true even in a town where it seems that money rules and churches trump everything, we are still winning! If want to make change in your city, then do it. If you have a crazy idea, just follow through with it. People will tell you you’re crazy and they will just push you aside but you just have to keep pushing back. I always said since the start of Bartertown, I never cared about making it, I just cared about being remembered. I am no business man, I just have passion and that is worth more than money.
To all who thought this idea would fail or never work: well, simply put, you’re wrong. It did work. Che is still up and we are still open. To all those who have supported this since day one, I thank you so much!
Some people who this would have never happened without:My girlfriend Onya Jackson for getting laid off for 6 months and, instead of looking for a job, painted and scraped walls, this would not have happened without you.John Bauer who was the first person to hop on board. Diane Capen and Matt Graves and the entire Graves family for constant support throughout this, no matter what. Scott Steiner for your support, help and friendship. My wife Claire Graves for simply believing in this and supporting us all while we built Bartertown. The Haltemans; without this family, vegan food in GR would not be the same. The Wolpas; another source of constant support, and another great family. Charlie Ham for all the inspiration in the world and to our future together, you keep growing it and I will keep cooking it. Devon and Green Wagon farms. Brian at Vivant for all the beer. Brian Edwards for believing in this for some reason. Chad Morton for all you do and still do. Mark and Jude, the worst customers Bartertown ever had!! Angela Topp for all the help and support. Mike Bussler and Dylan Putman for your hard work in the beginning. Even vegangr.com; Jon and Kolene, even though you protested it at first. Jeremy from Deliciosity, the most consistent dessert maker in the business. All the inaccurate journalism that GR may be known for. No worries Tommy Allen, I still love you. Naomi for all the awesome book work and keeping me out of jail. And finally to all the workers at Bartertown, you all rule! Thanks for dealing with all my shit and the craziness which is Bartertown. To the future owners, Matt Russell, Kate Krause, Megan Shannahan, Onya Jackson, and Tara Inso, I love you all so much and know you will take this to the next level. To all the vegans, veg heads, meat eaters, suit and tie guys, Christians, Catholics, Commies, Capitalists, queer, straight, trannies, punks, hippies, freaks and normals: Thanks for all getting along and eating at Bartertown, and I hope to see you all in Cult Pizza in a week or so. In the mighty words of Rowdy Roddy Piper, “you haven’t seen nothing yet!”