BOSTON-It's debate watch party night at Democracy Brewing in February, and as presidential candidates take the stage to sports-star hype introductions, the politics fans at this European-style beer hall are getting rowdy, like Patriots fans when Tom Brady takes the field. The biggest cheers come from two waiters when they see Bernie Sanders-the candidate who would most approve of the way their workplace is organized.
Democracy isn't just a clever theme at this 2-year-old brewpub. The beer names hint at the business' mission: the Worker's Pint blonde ale and the 1919 Strike stout. The beer coasters explain it. "Democracy Brewing is all about two American ideals," they read: "Democracy, and owning your own business." The brewpub, which opened on Independence Day 2018, is a worker-owned cooperative-and an innovative program at Boston's City Hall, the Worker Cooperative Initiative, helped it get started.
James Rasza, the brewery's co-founder and CEO, says Democracy Brewing was created as a " public house " in the British tradition, "one that could really build community, because Boston has become more and more transient." A former labor organizer, Rasza says he also wanted to "showcase solutions to people's work life"-to give workers a stake in the company, a say in how their workplace is run, and at least $15 per hour. "It seemed like being a public house that brewed our own beer and made great food was a good way to showcase that to the public, while also really creating good value for the public," he says-"not just in food and beverage, but also hopefully something deeper."