Megan Henry The Columbus Dispatch
Jun 6, 2020 at 3:59 PM
Uniformed officers and firefighters can receive a 50% discount. The discount had been removed Wednesday but then was reinstated Friday after the restaurant reportedly received backlash against the removal.
Northstar Cafe’s Short North service and bar staff walked out Saturday morning after the restaurant reinstated a discount for police officers.
Uniformed officers and firefighters can receive a 50% discount. The discount had been removed Wednesday but then was reinstated Friday after the restaurant reportedly received backlash against the removal, said employee Christopher Clift, who organized the walkout.
Kevin Malhame, a co-owner of Northstar Cafe, said in a statement: “Our early response to the current unrest around the country was made quickly and emotionally. It involved suspending a long-standing discount for police and firefighters. We regret the decision and have continued the discount program.”
Short North kitchen manager Zach Vargas quit Friday because the discount was reinstated.
He said he had already put in his two weeks notice for personal reasons unrelated to the discount before the protests related to George Floyd started.
But after the discount was put back in place, he said he knew he could no longer work for Northstar.
“I cannot continue to work for Northstar as the company does not understand the kind of message they send with reinstating the police discount,” he said in an email to co-workers.
About 20 employees at Northstar’s Westerville location walked out Saturday at 4:30 p.m., including Peyton Yeater, a former server.
“I 100% believe that black lives matter and that giving back the discount isn’t doing anything,” Yeater said. “If anything, it’s silencing us for this cause and I believe that Northstar needs to reinstate a different cause for this because what’s going isn’t right.”
Darren Malhame, also a co-owner of Northstar Cafe, spoke for about about seven minutes to more than 30 Northstar employees who were gathered in the front entrance of the Westerville restaurant.
“I know many of you disagree with the decision to resume the discount for police and firefighters, which is understandable in light of recent events,” he said. “Our early response was rooted in emotion.”
But many Northstar employees still decided to walk out after his speech.
“Silence is violence,” said the Northstar employee who led the Westerville walkout. “It is time that Northstar takes a proactive stance and takes a complete and unwavering support of black lives matter.”