Portland’s otherwise wonderful restaurant scene suffers from prejudice.

One of my friends is a professional food server. Former co-workers, managers and customers testify that she’s great at her job, but her boss axed her, saying:

“You are a pro and a hard worker. But I have to let you go – you’re just not the right fit.”

Her crime? She’s in her 40s in a restaurant scene demanding waitstaff as tender as its locally sourced food.

She has weathered cancer, raised a family and traveled the country; she is a tough, experienced survivor. How did life experience become a hindrance, not an asset?

My food service days 40 years in the past, I wrote off ignored applications as due to my lack of recent experience, not my lengthy life experience. Hearing from other older folks, I looked at my servers and suspected ageism at work.


Ironically, Portland’s foodie revolution is paid for by we who were listening when the Beatles released “Revolution.” They’ll take our money but not give us a job. And we are docile enough to put up with it.

In a state with the highest median age in the country and a weak economy, Portland’s emergence as a foodie mecca created a labor shortage. Our governor suggests putting children to work. A better idea: Let kids be kids. We old folks are eager and able. Hire us.

Let’s raise awareness:

Food writers: Does the staff look like the customers? Tell us. The treatment of human beings is at least as important as how the chickens are treated.

Customers: Check restaurants’ human rights records. Don’t go to places that practice ageism.

Restaurant owners and managers: Hire the people like my friend.

Pete Lyons


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