(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)
It’s not required that you get a tattoo with the restaurant’s logo if you want to work at the Nova Cafe in Bozeman, Montana. But that hasn’t stopped more than 30 of the cafe’s current and former employees from getting one.
The tattoo is quite unique. “We were in the kitchen working one day,” owner Serena Rundberg told ABC Fox Montana, “and two eggs and two pieces of bacon landed on a plate in the exact shape of a skull and crossbones. And we were thinking like, ‘Woah, that would make an amazing tattoo.’”
So amazing that Rundberg had an artist create a design and a number of employees decided to get one. The bacon and eggs/skull and crossbones design became the cafe’s logo, appearing on stickers and shirts worn by employees with the tagline “Killer Breakfast”. The image has become so familiar in the community that customers and children have been getting a temporary version of it to proudly show off to their friends.
But isn’t tattooing your employees asking for a bit too much loyalty? Not to some who work there. “When the tattoo idea came up,” one longtime employee says, “I wasn’t even at all ashamed to be like, ‘Yeah!’ I loved the owners. I didn’t even think twice about it.”
As I wrote above, it’s not required that employees get the tattoo. But if they choose to do so, Rundberg – who has a specialized version of it on both of her arms – will pay for the inking. And the tattoo is not the same for everyone. According to the Fox ABC report, each is designed specifically for the person who gets it, with one showing eggs and bacon “flying triumphantly on a pirate ship’s flag” while others include images of waffles, hats, cigarettes, roses and frying pans.
The restaurant owners and its employees have emphasized the team-building feeling and sense of community they get when they share the tattoo. I guess this kind of thing works if you’ve got the right company culture to support it. A hip little cafe in a cool town like Bozeman seems like that kind of place. A stuffy technology services firm located (ahem) outside of Philadelphia like mine? Uh, maybe not as much.
Whatever the case, everyone there seems to be having fun and entrepreneur Rundberg’s tattoo idea is even spreading to some of the other small businesses she owns. “I never thought that we would create something like that, but we’ve created something that is more than a job,” she says. “More than a career.”