Childcare is a struggle for any working parent, and one Camilla Marcus knows all too well. As the owner of West~bourne cafe in New York City, Marcus saw staffers grappling with how to secure childcare during jobs that stretch beyond the 9-to-5. A working mom herself, Marcus did good by her team and the hospitality industry: She partnered with Vivvi learning center, a day care start-up, to provide employer-sponsored childcare at a lower cost and with extended hours.
How did you get involved with Vivvi?
A friend connected me to a city official who introduced me to Vivvi’s founders, Charlie Bonello and Ben Newton. That conversation turned into a partnership; together we created democratic access to employer-sponsored childcare near restaurant employees’ places of work in SoHo during hours that actually fit within their jobs. It’s something that hasn’t been done before.
How much does your program cost?
Vivvi’s tuition is $3,600 a month for an infant or toddler and $2,900 a month for a preschooler. Employer coverage of the tuition varies but is typically around $2,000 a month per employee. At West~bourne we cover 100 percent of the cost.
What are your long-term goals with Vivvi?
I dream of a future where all hospitality employers offer this as a baseline benefit, similar to health care. As an industry with low barriers to entry, hospitality is a crucial place for childcare accessibility to be realized. We’re thrilled to be forging an initiative that will pave the way for a better tomorrow!
Editor’s note: In response to mass restaurant closings due to COVID-19, Marcus helped found ROAR, a coalition of NYC restaurant owners petitioning for industry relief. “West~bourne’s core belief is mission first, people always,” says Marcus. “Our goal is to advocate for the needs of the New York hospitality community.” Visit roarnewyork.org for information or to make a donation.
This article originally appeared in our Summer 2020 issue. Get the magazine here.