Berkeley, With Extra Cheese
Of course, if you're reading this and happen to be my grandmother, disregard that last sentence. Anyway, when there's no traffic, it's almost quaint.
The seminal Cheese Board -- a retail cheese and bread store a few doors down -- was founded in 1967 on the kibbutz model. In 1990, Cheese Board Pizza emerged from the shop as a way to dispose of leftover cheese and dough. Today, 40 workers -- from aged hippies to Mexican immigrants -- own a slice of the business.
As Arthur Dembling, a 13-year Cheese Board Pizza Collective member, explains: "It's basically a democratic workplace. It's worker owned and operated, everybody gets the same pay rate and all decisions are made by consensus. The only drawback is that decisions can take a long time."
That philosophy is reflected in Cheese Board's un-capitalistic hours. With "people not profits" in mind, the shop is open only five days a week and closes relatively early. The early quitting time is a result of the collective not wanting anyone to work more than a 10-hour shift. Fortunately, members of the East Bay proletariat adjust their appetites accordingly; on the Saturday I visited, the place was mobbed at 5 p.m. In Berkeley, apparently pizza is the opium of the masses.
Best of all, each order comes with one or two "slivers." These mini-slices are another form of socialism by default.
"The slicing used to be really uneven, so we'd give slivers to people when they got a small slice," says Dembling. "But most people didn't understand it. So now everybody gets a sliver -- it's just easier that way."
-- Jonathan Bloom
Cheese Board Pizza (1512 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, Calif.) is open Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 7 p.m., Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 7 p.m. Details: 510-549-3055, cheeseboardcollective.coop.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Pizza eaters line up at Cheese Board Pizza in Berkeley, Calif., a collective restaurant with only one type of pie served in a day.