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Nobody likes a hypocrite: that’s the message critics have conveyed when they serve a hot, steaming platter to a local restaurateur.
Last weekend, a sign appeared on the front of the 9th Door, an upscale tapas restaurant on 925 Lincoln Street. It read:
“Unfortunately, no one wants to work anymore due to government handouts. Therefore we have personnel bottlenecks. The 9th door is temporarily closed on Sundays until we can find more staff. We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to better days!”
The kicker? The 9th Door, led by Woodenspoon LLC, received $ 216,583 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the pandemic.
“The 9th Door, like most other restaurants in Colorado whose business has been destroyed by COVID, accepted PPP loan funds, the majority of which (to be forgiven) must be used to pay employees we cannot hire , or go straight back to the government, “Brian Murphy, owner of 9th Door, told Westword.
Murphy says he removed the sign shortly after it was hung, but not before someone took a photo, which will soon be posted on Next Door and Reddit alongside the company’s PPP story, resulting in outraged comments and negative reviews on social media from 9th Door led and business sites.
Murphy tried to appease a few Facebook users by explaining the reasons for the sign – but his apology for “the tone suggested by the sign” seems to have fueled the flames, judging by recent Facebook comments (which Murphy has in his honor at the top left).
“In hindsight, I regret the tone the sign on our door implied and that it annoyed our customers,” says Murphy. “It was a very difficult year and I am a person and a small business owner who let my resulting emotions and frustrations overwhelm me for a moment. We removed the sign shortly after it was released and have done our best to have had a dialogue with these people since then. “
To explain how difficult things have been for restaurateurs, Murphy cites a recent poll by the Colorado Restaurant Association that interviewed nearly 200 operators this spring. According to the survey, 90 percent of respondents said they had problems hiring new employees, and 65 percent said unemployment benefits were the main obstacle to hiring. Murphy also points to Governor Jared Polis’ recruitment program, which offered $ 1,600 to Colorados who started full-time positions by May 29 and $ 1,200 to those who found a job by June 26.
“As the independent chef / owner of the 9th Door and someone who has worked my way up in many, many restaurants over the past 27 years, it has always been something I have worked hard for despite the way the living wage is in the industry structured and the very low profit margins that most restaurants – ours included – can make, “said Murphy, who told CBS4 in January that he opposed an increase in the state minimum wage due to the pandemic.” Whether through hourly wages or a combination of wages and Tipping, all of our employees earn above the Colorado minimum wage, and we value them immensely. “
The first 9th Door opened at Blake Street 1808 in 2005 and expanded to include the 925 Lincoln location in 2013. Murphy bought this location in 2017; the original 9th door on Blake closed in April 2018.
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