Death & Co. Will Share its Massive Book Advance with Employees


Six-figure book deals are getting harder to come by, especially for food and drink projects. But the East Village cocktail den Death & Co. scored a $250,000 deal with Ten Speed Press last year.

Today, some interesting news comes from the bar’s founder David Kaplan: He plans to share the hefty advance with the bar’s employees.

“This is OUR book, not mine,” Kaplan wrote in an email to his team, recognizing that many characters have been a part of the bar’s culture, history, and recipe development since he founded the place in 2006.

So with the money remaining after the book’s team has been paid, Kaplan will pay $4,000 to each of Death & Co’s seven longtime employees and head bartenders — including all those who left to do their own thing, like Joaquin Simo, Brian Miller, and Jessica Gonzalez. Though they won’t work on the manuscript, the recipes each bartender created at Death & Co. will be included in the book, and credited to them.

Recipe ownership has become a murky concept when it comes to brand-driven restaurant and cocktail books, with employees often going uncredited and unpaid for dishes/drinks created on the clock. While sharing the advance with the team is an unusual move, it’s certainly a refreshing one.

“The book will carry on the core ethos that has shaped our bar,” wrote Kaplan, noting that all current employees of Death & Co. will get $1,000 as well.

The checks will be sent to employees within the month and the book, which will contain around 500 recipes, is scheduled for publication next year.



This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 8, 2013

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