25 Employees Walk Out After Pennsylvania Restaurant Owner Names Drinks ‘The Negro’ And ‘The Caucasian’
Dozens of employees walked out from a bar and restaurant establishment in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, after the owner created a menu that featured drinks named after racial terms.
According to the Gettysburg Times, at least 25 employees left when Donald Hoffman, owner of Mela Kitchen at Jack’s Hard Cider, decided to serve oddly named cocktails in the theatre that operates out of the same site.
Many employees who expressed their frustration on social media said Hoffman wanted them to serve drinks with names such as “The Caucasian” and “The Negro.”
“Myself and most all of my coworkers walked out on Friday due to the owner and heads of production at Jacks cider pushing for some racist cocktail names,” Emily Kate Hessler wrote on Facebook. “Despite days of efforts from upper management trying to halt this cocktail and it’s name, Friday comes and it’s time to reveal this weekends special. I made a formal complaint to upper management and notified them that if the name isn’t changed most of the scheduled staff will be walking. An email was sent to Donald informing him of our plan and his reaction was explosive.”
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Hessler, who had much more to say in her lengthy post, said some people were fired and others “were told they have to walk if they have an issue and we won’t be getting unemployment.”
“We asked to hold a meeting to inform those not there what is going on so they can make an informed decision since choosing to walk out in protest will be taken as quitting,” Hessler added. “We were refused the right to assemble and although I informed him we’d do it anyway I was told the state police would be there to remove us from the property if I didn’t walk by 4pm or stop being offended by every little thing. So we walked.”
According to People’s World, Hoffman purchased the already-operating restaurant/bar in 2019 after working there as a manager. Hessler said Hoffman has been problematic since he bought the establishment.
“Donald has repeatedly mistreated staff being emotionally and verbally abusive, sexist, inappropriate touching and comments to both female and male staff members,” Hessler wrote.
Many of the other outraged employees made similar complaints on Facebook.
“We had issues with the owner Donald (not Josh Fidler, he’s great) sexually harassing employees and wanting us to serve cocktails under racially insensitive names such as caucasian,’ ‘redneck’ Russian’ and ‘negro,'” Madison Nichole Melton wrote.
Mela Kitchen also responded in a statement on Facebook.
“I have come to realize how we have fallen short on addressing the sensitive issues towards others. Both inside the company and in how we present ourselves to the community. I take full responsibility for the shortcomings and I apologize to the current and former employees who have experienced harm while working at Mela Kitchen,” the owner stated. “I will be ordering additional sensitivity training for myself and promise to develop a culture of understanding, empathy and tolerance to ensure that our staff feel safe and empowered.”