Food & Wine Magazine: Mama J’s among ‘ greatest restaurants to work for’ in America

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A dish of food featured at Mama J's, located on 2nd Street in Jackson Ward.

RICHMOND, Va.  — It’s hard working at a restaurant, says Food & Wine Magazine.

The lowest paid workforce in the country sends only half of its employees home with above the median living wage as sexual harassment complaints pile up, more commonly reported in the food industry than any other over the past two decades.

Food & Wine took to the road to find the greatest restaurants to work for and landed in Jackson Ward at local favorite, Mama J’s.

Owned and operated by mother-son duo Velma and Lester Johnson, Mama J’s staff promotes from within and raises every year.

Sexual harassment results in termination, Food and Wine reports, and lower-wage employees are trained into better paying positions, in addition to annual raises.

Velma Johnson started catering after retiring from her position as deputy sheriff, so when the doors opened in 2009, she had a built-in clientele. Her career continues to inspire her son’s management style and hiring decisions.

“I used to visit [my mom] at work, and if you can help people to not have to go back to that, that’s a good thing,” Johnson told Food & Wine. “If we’re going to say you’ve paid your debt to society, we’ll give you a second chance.”

Read more about Mama J’s and the other restaurants here.

Eat It, Virginia! with Scott and Robey is a podcast driven by food. We discuss Richmond restaurants and food events, answer your most pressing food-related questions, and share listener-submitted dining suggestions. Email the show here.

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