My partner Janel Inouye and I came back home to Sacramento in 2005 with the idea of making food that reflected the cultural and agricultural bounties of the Central Valley. We started Magpie as a catering company, which we began in a small, rented commercial kitchen, and have grown into a busy little restaurant on R Street with a team of 60 Magpies and 95,000 visits a year.
Janel and I sometimes puzzle back and forth about why Magpie has worked, and our conversation always seems to come back to one important thing: We care about Sacramento, and we pay attention to what the city wants from Magpie.
Sacramento has supported us, and we are grateful. Because of this support, we have outgrown our space at R Street and plan on moving to the 16 Powerhouse building downtown, located at 16th and P streets, later this year to help us better serve our guests.
Carpenters Local 46 has decided to target Magpie for being a tenant of the 16 Powerhouse building. Local 46 has hired people to stand in front of Magpie at 14th and R for three weeks with fliers, signs and, of course, the giant grim reaper (“Grim sign for capital businesses”; Our Region, City Beat, Feb. 9).
Janel and I have spent time considering the claims and motives of Local 46’s actions, and this consideration has caused us to question the tactics, rationale and philosophy behind these protests.
We feel that Carpenters Local 46’s strategy of attacking locally owned small businesses who are only third parties in this matter betrays the values Carpenters Local 46 purportedly stands for, which its website announces are to “(carry) on with the traditions long established here in Sacramento for the benefit of all working people and the community at large.”
Their behavior is nothing short of old-fashioned bullying. The “information” they distribute on public walkways amounts to slander (and little else), personally listing our names and calling our business practices “bottom feeding.” This kind of anachronistic threat hurts all of us in Sacramento.
Over the past three weeks, Janel and I have come to believe that, for the most part, the people that visit us here at Magpie feel the same way.
We strongly believe that Sacramentans want and value local, innovative, small business at the core of our community. At Magpie, we are more committed than ever to our mission of celebrating what makes our city and region special, and contributing to it by making seasonal, farm-to-table food in Sacramento.
We plan on continuing to listen to our community and continuing to learn ways to make our business more sustainable for our team, our guests and the environment. Carpenter Local 46’s attack on small, local businesses is flagrantly out of step with the values of people here in Sacramento. If Local 46 sees Magpie as the bad guy, this should give us all reason to question its mission.
Edward Roehr is a partner of Magpie Café.