Dudley Dough Will Share the Wealth
Chef Didi Emmons’ whole wheat pizza dough is the basis of the menu at an artisan pizzeria opening up in Dudley Square later this month, but Dudley Dough is focused on a different kind of dough, too. The forthcoming shop plans to share its profits with employees, and more broadly, it is committed to economic justice.
“We want to teach, show, and elevate people who want to work one job,” said Luther Pinckney, a restaurant industry veteran and Dudley Dough’s team leader. “A lot of people in the hospitality industry have two or three part-time jobs. They’re not trying to go out and buy a Ferrari, but they’re trying to have a livable wage and pay their bills. We want them to do that with one job, and still have time for their families and to be civically engaged in their communities.”
Dudley Dough is the second social enterprise from Haley House, a Boston nonprofit committed to economic inclusion for half a century. Like Haley House Bakery Cafe, its original shop located right outside the Dudley Square neighborhood in Roxbury, the new restaurant aims to use food and community to break down barriers between people and transfer new skills. Among other endeavors, the Bakery Cafe offers a transitional employment program to support men and women returning to the labor force after incarceration. Dudley Dough is also a CORI-friendly business, Pinckney said, but its hiring focus is not that population.
“We’re looking for the short-order cooks at the small diners—people who have been in the industry, but are not necessarily reaping the benefits. Someone who has been working 16 years and is still making $12.50 an hour,” he said. Young people who are interested in starting a hospitality career are also the company’s target demographic, he added.
Pay starts for all staff at $12.50 an hour, and as the restaurant begins turning a profit, it will be distributed quarterly among all employees based on the number of hours they clock, Pinckney said. He clarified the restaurant doesn’t fit the legal definition of a worker co-operative, with employees doubling as shareholders. The profit-sharing is simply in the form of the regular bonuses. “What we’re trying to do is make it a model for other businesses to look at,” he said.
In addition to the direct economic benefits, the pizzeria is also supporting its workers with relevant culinary and business training, and a lack of hierarchy. Pinckney, a Roxbury native, was general manager at Ester in Dorchester and South End landmarks Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen and Bob the Chef’s, but he shuns that label in his new role. “Here, we want the team aspect to shine through. We’re doing a lot of decision making as a group,” he said.
Dudley Dough has positioned itself as a new standard for employment in Dudley Square, an area of Boston undergoing a revitalization effort thanks, in large part, to the city itself. The restaurant opens into the atrium of the newly-renovated and renamed Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, a public-private mixed use facility in which the city invested $115 million. “We’re proud to be representative of the city,” Pinckney said, adding that 500 Boston Public School District employees whose offices are upstairs are a nice client base. “However, we’re definitely here for the community,” he said.
A unique way Dudley Dough is living its community mission will be seen regularly on weekday afternoons: A mathematics tutoring program, Pie R Squared, is taking up residence at the pizzeria’s only booth. Founded by Elizabeth Segers, a finance professional who has tutored Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain students for more than 20 years, the program will fundraise to supply the students with pizza.
The diverse community will be reflected in Dudley Dough’s food. Chef Emmons, who developed the menu and is helping train staff, was the founding chef at Haley House Bakery Cafe as well as the shuttered Veggie Planet in Harvard Square. Her recipes incorporate ethnic ingredients, like jerk chicken, pulled beef, harissa, and bok choy. Dudley Dough won’t serve any pork, a nod to the substantial population in the area that considers the meat taboo, and it will have many vegetarian options.
Each day, the pizzeria will offer margherita with hand-pulled mozzarella made in-house, plus one rotating specialty pie. The constantly-changing menu will use fresh and local ingredients, including vegetables from Haley House’s garden on Thornton Street. There will be a simple, homemade soup each day, such as butternut squash or corn chowder, plus a handful of varied salads, like bok choy soy, with shredded carrots, cucumber, snow peas, and a teriyaki vinaigrette. For sweets, frozen and fresh fruit will combine in smoothies, there will be Toscanini’s Ice Cream, and Haley House Bakery Cafe pastries.
Dudley Dough got a beer and wine license, and the lists will be populated with local craft brews and ecologically sound wines. Maine Root sodas, loose leaf MEM Teas, and all manner of coffee and espresso drinks will round out the offerings.
Once it opens, Dudley Dough will operate weekdays for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Dudley Dough, 2302 Washington St., Boston, 617-236-8132, dudleydough.org.