SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) A fight broke out almost two weeks ago at Alderwood restaurant in Santa Cruz. The altercation involved an employee and a customers at the restaurant.
A video of the fight has since gone viral and restaurant management tells KION they've received multiple serious threats since they fired the employee involved.
Witnesses allege that a Filipino employee was confronted by several white customers after a coronavirus plexiglass barrier was knocked over. The customers allegedly yelled racial and homophobic slurs at the employee. A fist fight then broke out.
“It was just pandemonium in the restaurant,” employee Evan Maine said.
The owner and head chef told KION Tuesday, they had no choice but to let the employee go because he was a part of the violence.
“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 said.
The employee was fired a week after the incident, and many of the other workers are furious over the decision. Employees, like Maine, said its created a hostile work environment and have resigned from the restaurant. Maine said at least 10 employees have resigned.
“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 said. "In today’s social climate we all know no one’s going to stand for that kind of behavior.”
Management admits it could have handled the situation better.
“What we messed up on was we didn’t communicate more openly with the staff about what had happened in a timely matter," Wall said.
The fine cuisine restaurant said they pride themselves on their diverse work environment, and despite what some are saying, they won’t tolerate racism and bigotry.
“We opened two years ago with the intent of having a workplace that is very opening and welcoming," Investor Ahmed Hamdy said. "To have a safe happy environment to hang out in.”
The restaurant was closed Tuesday and does not have a set plan of when it will re-open. Management met with the staff Tuesday to discuss the plan moving forward.
The customer involved in the fight is banned from the restaurant.
In an Instagram post Monday, Alderwood said in part, “We do not support violence in anyway. Our staff and guests are multicultural and always have been. We are trying to heal as a business from an event that escalated last week in Alderwood involving customers and an employee that was dining with us. It is extremely unfortunate that a fight ensued, involving racial verbal abuse and physical violence. After reviewing security footage both parties were found to be at fault and removed. Alderwood’s ownership, management and staff do not condone violence or racism!”