When restaurateur Evan Christou helped form a buyers’ cooperative in 1992 for his upstate New York industry peers, he did so to boost profit. Sixteen years later and with food prices at record levels, he’s touting the buying power of Restaurant Operators Cooperative, or ROC, as one element helping to keep independent restaurants alive during this nearly unprecedented economic environment.“This is not about glamour or glory, this about survival,” said Christou, owner of Tops American Grill, ...

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