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Staff Walkouts Prompt Temporary Shutdown at Two West Philly Restaurants [Updated]

Employees are protesting a co-worker’s firing, which they claim was a racist action

Local 44 Local 44 [official photo]

West Philly gastropub/bottle shop Local 44 and pizzeria Clarkville, which share owners, are both currently closed following staff walkouts and protests tied to a Clarkville employee’s firing on July 16. The restaurants have been shut down for about a week already and are slated to reopen August 9.

According to several social media posts and comments and an Eater tipster, as well as some information in an article on West Philly Local, Clarkville and Local 44 workers allege the firing was racially motivated and that discrimination based on race is part of an ongoing issue with the restaurants’ owners, who are Leigh Maida, Brendan Hartranft, and Brendan Kelly.

The three restaurateurs have also opened and then closed or sold a few other popular Philly spots over the years, including Strangelove’s in Center City, which was sold to new owners early this year.

After a fairly vague Instagram post on each restaurant’s account that apologized for the inconvenience of Local 44 (44th and Spruce) and Clarkville (43rd and Baltimore) closing temporarily, both accounts followed up August 4 with a longer message that began, “The recent firing of an employee at Clarkville has led to accusations that their termination was racially motivated. This is simply not true.” It included that owners and management of both establishments “will be taking part in a day of mandatory unconscious racial bias training. Staff are encouraged to attend as well to let their voice be heard.”

Comments in response to those posts allege a history of racism and homophobia at the restaurants.

Eater reached out to the owners and employees and so far heard from co-owner Maida, who reiterates that the employee in question was fired for cause, and the firing was not racially motivated. She says the protesters are a “small group of ex-employees.” She and her co-owners are in court August 6 to get an injunction to stop the group from being closer than 20 feet from either restaurant and from naming the owners and the staff.

Update: August 6, 10:57 a.m.
This article was updated to include comments from Leigh Maida, co-owner of the restaurants, and to clarify that Strangelove’s is no longer owned by Maida, Brendan Hartranft, and Brendan Kelly.

Local 44

4333 Spruce Street, , PA 19104 (215) 222-2337 Visit Website

Clarkville

4301 Baltimore Avenue, , PA 19104 (215) 387-4992 Visit Website

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