Since the early 1960s, the California State Package Store and Tavern Owners Association (CALPAC)has been working to improve the relationship between African American liquor license owners, the community and the liquor retail industry.
One of CALPAC’s missions involves providing employment for ex offenders, something CALPAC President and Home of Chicken and Waffles owner Derreck Johnson is familiar with.
“We want to increase our membership from 25 to 100 people over the next two years throughout the state,” said Johnson. We also want to focus on employing more African Americans in the liquor industry, and make sure we align ourselves with community organizations.”
One of the initiatives Johnson wants to implement is the “Hire one, Teach one, Love one” program for ex offenders that is already being implemented at his Home of Chicken And Waffles restaurant.
The idea is that by hiring ex offenders, teaching them the necessary skills to be successful in the hospitality industry and treating them like members of the “family,” individuals will gain the confidence and experience needed to begin a successful career.
Former CALPAC president and owner of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle Geoffrey Pete remembers when African Americans weren’t allowed to own many clubs, lounges, and bars but instead controlled the liquor stores in the
Pete said CALPAC was started out of necessity to help fight discriminatory hiring practices for African Americans who worked in distribution warehouses as well as truck drivers for liquor companies.
The businesses serve as a stepping-stone for gainful employment. CALPAC’s members include Everett & Jones, Isler’s Liquor, Jo Jo’s Market, and Geoffrey’s Inner Circle.
The organization encourages networking among other business owners as well as providing statistical data and
marketing materials to help businesses. In order to become a member, an applicant must have a liquor license and be in good standing account with liquor distributor.
“We reached out to Cesar Chavez’s National Farm Workers Association as well as the Teamsters to include the hiring of African Americans into liquor companies in their platform,” said Pete.
“When they said no, members of CALPAC began establishing relationships with Coors Brewing Company, and we created our own network.”
CALPAC was also able to negotiate with the Coca Cola Bottling Company, which resulted in the company hiring community relations representatives and a significant number of truck driver salesmen. The organization created a scholarship fund for high school students and inner city schools in the Bay Area.
“Our businesses provide employment and a gathering place where people can enjoy their life experiences,” said Johnson. “We need venues in our community that represent who we are as a culture.”
The CALPAC 37th Annual Convention will be held at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas from September 15th – 18th.