Working at a pizza shop isn’t usually a career move. But for several workers at a San Jose pizzeria, what started as a temporary gig, a first-time job or a side-hustle might soon turn into one of the biggest investments of their lives.

A Slice of New York, an authentic New York-style pizzeria with two locations in the South Bay, is well on its way to becoming one of the first small businesses in Santa Clara County to transition from a traditional ownership model to an employee-owned business that will give workers an opportunity to become equal partners in the company.

 “When you’re working in the food industry in the Bay Area, it’s really hard to make a living,” said Miguel Rubio, 28, who has worked at the pizza shop for 10 years and will become one of the new worker-owners. Becoming a co-op, he said, “will allow us to give people a chance they may have never had before. We have people who didn’t graduate high school, who went to school in another country, and they can own a part of this business. … It’s so important.”

Converting businesses like A Slice of New York to an employee-ownership model has many advantages, according to Oakland nonprofit Project Equity, which was founded three years ago to help business owners discern which kind of employee-ownership model would work best and then assist with the transition.

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