click image PHOTO COURTESY THE SEEDS/FACEBOOK

  • Photo courtesy The Seeds/Facebook

After 14 years in business, popular vegetarian restaurant and Mills 50 gathering place Dandelion Community Cafe has closed its doors permanently.

The official word from restaurant owner Chris Blanc is that the closing is down to “a variety of factors outside of our control, including the heavy impact of COVID-19.” 

Now make no mistake about it, it’s always a sad occasion when a beloved small business goes under, and no doubt the coronavirus pandemic is exacting a huge economic toll on local restaurants.

But it certainly appears as though one of those “variety of factors” in Dandelion’s closing is that restaurant management didn’t want to engage in a dialogue with newly unionized workers, the Seeds.

Dandelion’s employees first found themselves locked out of their place of employment last Tuesday, soon after presenting Dandelion’s management with a letter stating their intent to unionize and requesting a meeting on a variety of issues including compensation, safety and management policy.

The restaurant remained closed the rest of the week and through the weekend, with workers staging demonstrations in front of Dandelion daily, taking their case directly to the public.

Though customers and employees of the restaurant hoped an accord could be reached, Dandelion owners have made the decision to shut down their business for good.

A statement posted by Blanc to the Dandelion website on Monday reads in part:

Due to a variety of factors outside of our control, including the heavy impact It is with a heavy heart, but clear mind, that I make the decision to permanently close our special place. It has proven extremely difficult to operate a business in this current environment. The last few months have required an almost complete change to our business in the way we serve our community, at great financial cost. Unfortunately, it is no longer sustainable for Dandelion Community Cafe to continue to operate, and I have made the difficult decision to permanently close our family business. Please respect my decision. I ask for privacy at this time, and wish you all well.

Dandelion’s employees were informed of the restaurant’s closing via an email from Blanc on Monday evening.

Kyle Kern, Secretary-Treasurer of Central Florida’s chapter of the Industrial Workers of the World union, blasted the action in a press release also sent out Monday evening: “The owners of Dandelion have decided they will destroy their entire business to avoid sitting down with their employees to discuss serious problems with their workplace. This is the lowest of the low.”

click image PHOTO COURTESY THE SEEDS/FACEBOOK

  • Photo courtesy The Seeds/Facebook

For their part, the Seeds responded collectively on their Facebook page: “We are shocked and saddened at this decision. Though management claims they closed for reasons outside of their control, they always had the option of working with us. We will always cherish what the Dandelion community has given us.”

A hardship fund has been set up for the suddenly jobless employees. Donate here if you have the means and see fit to do so.

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