Updated June 30, 9pm: This story was updated with information from a media report by KION.
It probably isn’t a good sign when a business has to post a message on social media insisting that its “ownership, management and staff do not condone violence or racism.”
The owners of the downtown Santa Cruz restaurant Alderwood said on Instagram Monday that they had reviewed security footage of an “extremely unfortunate” fight that broke out in the restaurant’s dining area last week. “After reviewing security footage, both parties were found to be at fault and removed,” the post read.
The post—apparently written in response to online backlash Monday—discussed how the founders of Alderwood, which opened at the end of 2018, have always wanted it to be part of the Santa Cruz community and a staple of the culinary arts scene in Santa Cruz. “Our staff and guests are multicultural and always have been,” the post continued, before elaborating that the business’ leaders are “trying to heal” from the incident.
According to Reddit user Necessary-Parking, who posted about the incident on the Santa Cruz subreddit, a group of white diners shouted racial and homophobic slurs at an Alderwood chef in the restaurant before attacking him physically. The chef, the user wrote, retaliated in self-defense and “was subsequently fired a week later.”
The Reddit post, which came before Alderwood’s statement on Instagram, called on the restaurant to respond.
Alderwood did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Good Times on what happened. Grainy footage has surfaced on Imgur of a fight at the restaurant. Although the video does not provide a clear shot of what transpired, it appears to show an older white couple fighting with an Alderwood employee. At a few points, the employee and a man nearly came to blows.
In a Tuesday evening report by KION, restaurant managers told a TV news reporter that they’ve received multiple serious threats since the firing. They also said they had no choice but to fire the employee because of his role in the fight.
“The security footage shows both sides escalating the situation, and perhaps not an equal measure, but it’s important to note it was violent,” Executive Chef Jeffrey Wall told KION, adding that the executive team messed up by not communicating the reasons behind the firing.
According to the report, the restaurant was closed Tuesday and does not have a plan for when it will reopen.
Restaurant employee Evan Maine told KION at least 10 employees have resigned due to the situation. He expressed frustration with leadership over its handling of the fiasco and the decision to fire his colleague.
“It’s just unjustified. They wanted to cut their ties from the situation by letting him go, which ultimately had a major blow-back on them in the public eye,” Maine told KION. “In today’s social climate we all know no one’s going to stand for that kind of behavior.”
Since Monday afternoon, more than a dozen users have posted one-star reviews on Alderwood’s Yelp page. That prompted a note from Yelp that the page is being monitored by the site due to current events, which have been known to drive people to leave low ratings. The pop-up note on Alderwood’s Yelp page says the site has temporarily disabled posting.
The restaurant is also getting called out on Twitter.
Alderwood’s Facebook page has filled up with comments from upset users who want to know more about what happened at the restaurant, how management handled the situation and why they handled it that way.
Many pictures of fancy-looking dishes now have long streams of comments—some of them referring to “Karens,” a slang term for entitled white people.
“Your risotto looks like Karen needs to speak to the manager,” Donna Bosworth wrote.