SACRAMENTO, CA - A Slice of New York (ASONY) was honored as Assembly District 25’s business of the year in Sacramento on Wednesday by Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-25). Kirk Vartan and Marguerite Lee, co-owners of A Slice of New York (ASONY), opened the pizza shop nearly 15 years ago with the goal to bring East Coast comfort food to the Bay Area. In 2017, ASONY became a worker-owned cooperative — a business both owned and governed by their workers.
In a co-op, decisions are made democratically, and employees have direct involvement in evolving the business. For ASONY, employees have a hand in creating their paid-time-off plan and health care plan, as well as major decisions and direction of the business.
“A Slice of New York is a co-op that centers around worker-owned and putting workers first,” said Assemblymember Alex Lee. “This is why it’s no surprise that they went above and beyond to protect their workers during COVID, even implementing measures before local public health departments.”
During the pandemic, the worker-owners voted to mandate masks and social distancing policies weeks before the state did. In addition, they voted to get rid of individual slice options despite being a huge part of the business because they would be difficult to serve safely. ASONY pizza shops even voted to voluntarily close for an entire week to give employees a paid, mandatory break due to burnout.
As an example of an inclusive, democratic restaurant environment, their model has also been used to educate others on the benefits and powers of co-ops through the City of Santa Clara’s Worker Cooperative Initiative.
"As the first worker co-op business in Santa Clara, A Slice of New York owners Kirk Vartan and Marguerite Lee have paved the way for our City to retain the life-blood of our community - small business,” said Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor. “The City of Santa Clara fully supports their educational efforts to assist others in business ownership, which leads to a more sustainable local economy."
As a co-op, ASONY is an enduring company that offers members job stability and career opportunities in the local community and in the local food industry. ASONY will be celebrating its fifteen year anniversary next month.