Dude, all Northern California Café Gratitude locations are CLOSING?!  »

SFist has the word and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it! Café Gratitude, why you have to be so crazy? Can’t you just serve up your delicious kale bowls and key lime cheesecake and STOP BEING A CULT? So annoyed at them. SO ANNOYED! Where will I get my delicious coffee shakes?? THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, GODDAMMIT, GRATITUDE! My question of the day is: “WTF YOU GUYS!?”

More TK because we’re hella going New Tales of Sherlock Holmes on this shit.

[yeah, right!!]

UPDATE: SFist talked to Shandra Gilbert, Gratitude’s Director of Operations, who explained to us that, yes, Gracias Madre is also up for sale. Alas.

Et tu, Gracias Madre!??!!?

UPDATE 2: We now know for a fact that many employees (like, higher-up employees) had NO CLUE this was happening. They found out via SFist. Really nice, Café Gratitude.

UPDATE 3: We talked to Steve Sommers of Kumin Sommers LLC, who filed the two current lawsuits against Café Gratitude. He told us some interesting things! They mainly concern their tip-pooling practice, which goes like this: Every penny generated in tips and sales goes into same pool of money. At end of the day, they tabulate how much they should have earned from food sales, and they remove that amount from the pool— this, says Sommers, is called “breakage,” and it “shoulders the risk of the business onto the employees,” and is illegal. Next, they take 20 percent from the remaining money and send it to the central kitchen. Finally, they divide the remaining money among all the employees, from the managers to the janitors. Sommers says that one of his clients, Sara Stevens, would collect $200 in tips per night and only pocket $40. She is suing for between $80,000 and $85,000 in lost tips, and missed fuel and rest breaks.

The second lawsuit comes from their CURRENT—as in, he was still an employee as of 2:30 p.m. today, when we spoke with Sommers—bookkeeper, Ravi Shankar. He was being paid a salary as an exempt employee, which is illegal, and is suing for about $60,000 in overtime pay.

Sommers says that they have offered to let the Engelharts—Gratitude’s owners—“pay over time, if it’s a matter of money,” but by closing all their Northern California restaurants “they are scapegoating these two people.” Sommers also notes that once he filed these suits, Gratitude purchased three industrial shredders. “What are they hiding?” he asks.

It’s a legitimate question!

Also of note: These suits are entirely unconnected with Landmark and all that weirdness the East Bay Express wrote about in 2009.

UPDATE 4: Just heard from another (current) employee who said that they’re for sure being sold and that so is Gracias Madre, and it looks like there might already be a buyer for Gracias Madre, and it’s a big corporation. They didn’t tell the employees who the big corporation is (we’re thinking of starting the rumor that it’s McDonald’s! You in!?), but all Café Gratitude employees and central kitchen employees are getting fired. Super sad and shitty.

UPDATE 5: We just got news from a tipster (thank you!) that the Gratitude’s commercial kitchen and offices building on 14th Street is for sale. Asking price is $1.895 million, agent is Rob Maccarone at TRI Commercial. Check out the brochure here.


Hello, Friends! It’s WTF Wednesday!  »

Man, kids these days. Remember when the awesome college part-time job was waiting tables or bartending or working in a video store (personal favorite!)? And remember when KFC wasn’t paying coeds $500 a pop to hand out fliers while wearing pants with “Double Down” emblazoned on their “buns”?  Yeah, me too! So WHAT HAPPENED? KFC has been struggling as of late (apparently they lost 7 percent of revenue in the last year?) and it turns out that their target audience can’t even recognize the Colonel anymore. So instead of thinking “Dude, our problem is that our food is super-gross and also unfit for consumption, so maybe we should get rid of that monstrosity we introduced last year and rethink our horrible horrible menu as well as our choice to be known as chicken murderers,” they decided that their best course of action was to rent ad space on the behinds of college women. This is bad for several reasons. Number one: STOP KILLING CHICKENS! Number two: This is hella sexist. Why do you have to advertise on lady lumps? That is degrading! Number three: Goddamn, are those pants ugly and ill-fitting. KFC is desperately trying to sell “fun and sexy” but is coming up with “fire-engine-red wedgie.” NO ONE WANTS ANY OF THAT! Thank god some colleges are against this, but it really makes you wonder exactly what’s going through the minds of the college deans (deans are like principals, right?) [Ed: Sometimes! Depends on the structure] who do allow this on their campuses. Probably nothing good.

Here’s another thing that’s wrong with today: Hog Out Month in Texas. Have you guys heard about this? Apparently Texas is SOOOOOO overrun with feral hogs that its department of agriculture has decided that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. In fact, the department (run by the delightful Todd Staples) is not only encouraging people to go out and take vengeance on these monsters that destroy farmland, parks, and GOLF COURSES (I knew we would get there eventually), but is actually offering grants to spur the Texas counties into a veritable Hogocaust. They’re giving away cash prizes! Let trappers onto your land to turn it into a grisly bloodbath, and your county could win up to $25,000! It’s not just for money, though. It’s a challenge! Like in fifth grade, when you were supposed to read 20 books over the summer and then you would get a free book from the library? Just like that! Except with less reading and more muffled squeals of anguish. And the smell of burning flesh.

But sometimes, JUST SOMETIMES, good things happen. Usually it’s all fire and brimstone, though, and things that make me toss and turn in bed at night. Which is unfortunate because Allen thinks we have bedbugs now, so every time I accidentally kick him as I am pondering the plight of the human race and the cruelty we all visit upon the animals and each other, he wakes up and insists that a bedbug has bitten him. And then he gets the flashlight. I hate it when he gets the flashlight. Anyway, GOOD THINGS. On Oct. 3 Colombia celebrated World Animal Day for the first time, and over 500 people marched through the streets to stand up against the mistreatment of animals. This video is awesome, and what’s even more awesome is the closing message: “Even though animals cannot speak, they deserve love and respect.” Why can’t we all just get along?

That’s it for this week! Please leave suggestions for next week in the comments, or email me. Have an awesome Wednesday!

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