Love to eat and support workers? There’s an app for that.

Janel Bailey |

Two of my favorite things to do are eating and standing with other working people. So naturally, when I heard about the Just Dining app, I had to check it out.

The app comes behind the print guide, “JUST DINING: A Guide to Restaurant Employment Standards in Downtown Madison,”  which is a project of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin and Workers’ Rights Center of Madison. The print guide details the conditions for workers in the restaurant industry--workers who are mostly older than 20 and have spent years working in the industry, yet still struggle with poverty wages and inconsistent schedules. As someone who has never worked in the restaurant industry, but cares about the folks who make it possible for me to greaze to my heart’s content on the weekend, the print guide seems like a good 101 primer on restaurant worker issues.

Given that you probably won’t have the Just Dining print guide in your pocket next time you’re hungry in Madison, the app is the next best thing. It’s easy for smartphone users to go to the Just Dining app and check out the map or search by name for nearby restaurants. The app uses a simple rating system based on six or seven stars, and it breaks down where business pass or fail on several important criteria: health insurance availability, non-tipped employees starting at $8.75/hr or more, tipped employees starting at $3.62 or more, paid sick days, paid time off, written records (of personnel policies and tracking hours), and even retirement savings.

As the cherry on top, the Just Dining app is also free in the iPhone app store. If you have friends in the Madison area, who are looking for work in a restaurant or looking for a more ethical dining experience, please spread the word!