SFist is reporting the closure/sale of all Northern California Cafe Gratitude locations. The six locations on the chopping block include Healdsburg, along with SF Mission, Oakland, Berkeley, San Rafael, Cupertino and Santa Cruz.
The company states that the restaurants will remain open as owners seek buyers, but the parent company is dissolving due in part to “aggressive lawsuits”. The lawsuits allege illegal tip pooling and unpaid overtime wages filed by three plaintiffs. But a lawyer speaking to InsideScoopSF thinks there’s something bigger than a couple of small potatoes lawsuits going on here.
A note from owners Matthew and terces Engelhart on Facebook states:
With great sadness we are announcing the upcoming closing/sale of all Northern California Café Gratitude’s.
A series of aggressive lawsuits has brought us to this unfortunate choice. Although we believe that we have done nothing wrong and our policies are completely legal, it will cost us too much money to defend them in court. Despite telling the attorneys that brought the lawsuits that the current structure and resources of Café Gratitude are insufficient to sustain and defend our community, they have refused to give up and are forcing us to close.
We appreciate the loyalty of our employees and customers over these past 8 years and are grateful for having had the opportunity to serve each of you. We were happy to tolerate low margins and sustain ourselves on the transformation and personal growth of our people, while providing local organic vegan food to our community in an atmosphere of unconditional love. That commitment is under attack and we are not able to weather this storm.
This process will take a few months so please keep coming in and let’s celebrate our 8 years of success together, we are grateful for you! We have come to realize that it isn’t how we serve that is most important but rather that we serve. Our mission will survive this, as love cannot be threatened.
Thank you and love to you all, Matthew and Terces Engelhart on behalf of Café Gratitude, LL
Another recent Healdsburg shutter: Shimo