January 5, 2006

Former Windows on World workers open own NY eatery

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former workers from the opulent
Windows of the World eatery, which once graced the 107th floor
of the World Trade Center, saw a dream become reality on
Thursday with the opening of their own restaurant in Manhattan.

More than four years after the September 11 attacks that
destroyed the World Trade Center and killed 73 of their
co-workers, chefs, waiters, bartenders, busboys and dishwashers
who worked at Windows have come together to run an upscale
restaurant named Colors.

"This restaurant is about diversity, bringing together
different cultures," assistant chef Francesco Palmieri said as
he stirred a Caribbean style conch stew.

The restaurant, a few doors down from Greenwich Village's
Public Theater, is about a 20-minute stroll from where Windows
on the World was located.

Colors' decor is modern with a colorful map mural running
along one wall.

There are no tributes to the scenic Windows restaurant that
once seemed to float atop the trade center's north tower, but
the old haunt was still on the minds of many.

"Sometimes I think about it," said line cook Kissima Saho
of Gambia, West Africa, as he chopped lobsters and pulled out
the sweet meat. "I miss my crew members who lost their lives. I
miss them. I miss the money I used to make."

Sous chef Jeane Pierre said, "There are a lot of Windows
people here. ... We were tight. From 9/11 we have a bond."

Pierre, a native of Haiti, said the 50-member cooperative
of former Windows on the World employees was "trying to help
New York build another restaurant, a new kind of restaurant."

Immigrants from about 25 countries are represented in
Colors' 50-member cooperative, which will split up any profits.

"Here, this is a democracy," said bartender Patricio
Valencia of Ecuador, who worked three years at Windows on the
World. "We make decisions together.

"We are trying to change the system, which is unfair. Some
places only pay you $10 for a shift and a share of tips. We are
getting regular wages and eventually we hope to get benefits
and sick days and holidays and overtime."

Helping to finance the project is New York-based advocacy
group The Restaurant Opportunities Center, which raised
$500,000 and helped the restaurant secure a $500,000 investment
by Italy's Good Italian Food consortium. Another $1.2 million
was lent by the Nonprofit Finance Fund.

Restaurant employees were asked to make culinary
contributions. Recipes from the workers' homelands can be found
on the eclectic, international menu that includes Philippine
Lobster Lumpia (lobster and minted sweet potato filled spring
rolls for $15) and a Congolese Seafood Bowl (tuna, clams,
mussels and lobster in a coconut-cream smoked fish broth with
edamame and chayote for $33).

Pierre said Windows on the World had a big influence on

"I learned discipline and a strong work ethic," he said.
"Over there they made you a better chef, a better person, a
better cook. I took a lot out of there."