One of the Inland Empire’s best coffee companies, Augie’s, is facing an uncertain future after allegations of union-busting and a full closure of all of its retail locations. The Redlands-based company began in 2009 and quickly expanded into roasting its own beans and multiple cafe locations across the area, including Riverside and Claremont. Now all of those physical storefronts are closed, with no concrete plan to reopen.
Employees are saying that the company shuttered its entire retail operation and laid off everyone as retribution for an effort to unionize amongst the nearly 100-person staff. Ownership insists that the closures are the result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying on its social media channels that the closures are a way to ensure the safety of staff and the health of the company moving forward; the union side is saying that’s just an excuse. Regardless of the known intent, employees and affiliates of the union cause will be protesting at 11:30 a.m. in an effort to convince ownership to rehire staff and recognize the union.
And in other news:
- The Independent Hospitality Coalition has put together a handy website detailing common missteps with various local and regional restaurant reopening protocols, as well as in-depth instructions for things like PPE, keeping employees safe, and other important info. It’s a one-stop toolkit that lots of operators may find useful, especially as the government says they’re going to continue to crack down on those not following the rules.
- Japanese import Champion’s Curry is now open at SteelCraft in Long Beach, with plans to add a second location in Little Tokyo soon.
- San Diego County is also dealing with the prospect of dining room lockdowns, though it was not included in governor Gavin Newsom’s news last week. Still, the sense of “when, not if” is pervasive in the restaurant industry there right now, says the LA Times, and that’s leading to a lot of fear, lost money, and more.
- Speaking of shutdowns, LA Magazine has a heartfelt story from the owners of Michael’s in Santa Monica, detailing the unknown future of their decades-old, genre-defining restaurant.
- A new Zinque is coming to Los Angeles soon, this time at the Westfield Century City shopping mall. Toddrickallen says it’s taking over the former Petros space.
- Spago hasn’t let the recent slate of indoor dining room shut-downs stop it from service. The iconic Beverly Hills restaurant from Wolfgang Puck has pushed plenty of tables onto the sidewalk, and is now doing white-tablecloth dining out in the open air.