Wife fires husband from CA coffee company over racial slur in argument with Black man

·2 min read

The owner of a California coffee roaster fired her own husband from the company after he said he repeated a racial slur to a Black man during an argument over a parking spot.

Eileen Rinaldi, owner of Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco, wrote on Instagram Wednesday that she fired her husband John Rinaldi.

“Last week, I terminated my husband, John Rinaldi, from working at Ritual on a freelance project and from doing any future work in any capacity at Ritual,” she wrote. “He reported to me that he had a verbal altercation over a parking space while managing a construction project. He said that during the altercation, an individual called John a racial epithet. John said he then made the horrible mistake of repeating the racial slur back to the individual, something that he never should have done.”

“This incident is extremely upsetting to me. While he had only this freelance construction role at Ritual in the last year, I’m deeply regretful for allowing John to oversee this project or to do any work with Ritual,” she continued.

John Rinaldi said in an email to The San Francisco Chronicle that he used a racial slur during a fight with a Black man in late May outside the 17th Street warehouse.

John Rinaldi said the man “asked me and I quote: ‘Whats your name, b---ch A-- (slur)?” To which, I unfortunately replied: ‘Yup, that’s my name. B---ch A-- (slur).”

“This was an unfortunate incident over a parking spot. I have apologized for repeating the derogatory word that was shouted at me. A word I never, ever use. I regret the incident, and feel terrible about it. I am deeply disappointed in myself for meeting hostility with hostility, and allowing the situation to escalate,” he said to the publication.

The firing came less than a year after a racial reckoning at the company resulted in Eileen Rinaldi pledging to “retain and promote a diverse and inclusive group of individuals,” following complaints from employees about the company culture, Mission Local reported.

Police were called on a customer of color in May 2020 after he didn’t understand the line ordering system at the Valencia Street location and “angrily demanded to be served, using expletives,” the publication reported.

After the situation escalated, barista Laine Barriga refused the customer service and he demanded that they serve him or call the police, according to Mission Local. People operations manager, Talya Strader, who later resigned, called the police but the customer disappeared by the time they arrived.

John Rinaldi was also involved in a February 2019 incident in which a Black man reached into the tip jar and was pinned to the ground by John Rinaldi and a white customer, Mission Local reported. Police arrived and arrested the Black man.