This 'geek pub' opening in the Twin Cities focuses on paying workers a livable wage

It'll be a laid-back space to grab a coffee or beer with friends, eat tasty comfort food, and embrace your inner geek.

A new restaurant opening in the Twin Cities is committed to providing workers a livable wage. And giving customers a comfortable place to find their inner nerd.

After many years in the business, chefs Travis Shaw and Mark Lowman were frustrated with the problems plaguing the restaurant industry – long hours, hard labor, and traditionally low wages.

They wanted to open a fun and affordable hang-out spot that operates efficiently while still taking care of its employees.

So they founded Byte, a geek pub/cafe opening in Minneapolis' Warehouse District this March. It will pay all the employees – from cooks to dishwashers – $15 minimum wage, plus offer vacation time, and benefits.

"We're not focused on getting rich off of this. We just want to have a job where we can go home each day with a clear conscience knowing the people who are working for us are getting as much in return as they are putting in," Shaw told GoMN.

What the heck is a geek pub?

Shaw said Byte will be a laid-back space to grab a coffee or beer with friends, eat tasty comfort food, and embrace your inner geek.

"We ourselves are huge geeks. We love sci-fi, superheroes, board games, etc. This is our first restaurant and we've put so much of ourselves into it with our social philosophy and business model that we might as well also let it be an expression of our love for all things geek," he said.

Their love for nerdiness will be reflected in the decor, the artwork, and the dedicated area for board gaming.

The food

As far as the grub, Byte's menu will feature affordably-priced and made-from-scratch appetizers, salads, wraps, sandwiches and rice bowls inspired by global comfort and street foods.

"It's the sort of ingredients and flavors we love, but it's also the sort of food that originated from cultures that didn't have a lot but were able to create really satisfying flavors out of what was available. To us this is the soul of cooking and it's the comforting everyday food people won't mind having again and again," Shaw said.

They'll also offer fair trade drip coffees and Asian milk teas, as well as local beer and wine.

The economics of it

So how will they be able to pay employees $15 per hour while staying affordable?

They keep food costs down by choosing economic cuts of meat like chicken thighs, flank steak, pork shoulder and paneer cheese for the vegetarian dishes, he said. Plus they're using ingredients that can be made into a variety of dishes, and serving them up fast service assembly style – requiring less labor so they can pay each worker more.

"We're sick of how this industry chews people up and spits them out. We work with these people, we get to know their families and their struggles and I just can't work another day where I have to look one of my cooks in the eye and tell them that their labor isn't worth a living wage because it absolutely is," Shaw said.

For more information about Byte, check out their website and Facebook page.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.

Screen Shot 2021-01-15 at 2.16.44 PM

Heather Brown named as new WCCO 'This Morning' anchor

She will be joining Jason DeRusha on the CBS affiliate's Morning Show.

DPS John Harrington

DPS Commissioner: No credible threats to state Capitol, but ready if something arises

Local and state law enforcement officials have a plan in case a threat arises.

snow, slush (submitted photo, ok to use)

Here are snow totals from Thursday-Friday winter storm

It's a slushy mess in the metro, but snow did pile up in southern counties.

tim walz

Walz fury after report that government's COVID vaccine reserve is nonexistent

The Washington Post reported Friday that the Trump Administration has shipped out all the vaccines it has already, with none in reserve.

closed sign

What's open and closed in Minnesota on MLK Day 2021?

Local government offices will generally be closed on Monday.

BMTN 900x450 (8)

Company that falsely promised student loan forgiveness banned from MN

It's also been ordered to repay $11,499 in fees taken from Minnesotans.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for January 15

Hospitalizations are the lowest in Minnesota since October 25.


Osterholm: B117 COVID strain could become major issue in 6-8 weeks

The B117 variant is believed to be more easily transmitted.


Win free french fries for a year when this bar opens in Minneapolis

The first 200 people will win a year's worth of HopCat's "crack fries."

Win free french fries for a year when this bar opens in Minneapolis

The first 200 people will win a year's worth of HopCat's "crack fries."

Minneapolis 'geek pub' Byte, which paid workers $15 an hour, is closing

The owners had an ambitious plan to pay workers $15 an hour.

This MN coffee company is donating half its profits to help the troops

Your next cup of joe could help military families in America.

Twin Cities named the raspberry consumption capital of America

People in the Twin Cities eat way more raspberries than the average American household.