Dandelion Cafe closes for good

Dandelion Cafe closes for good – Orlando Sentinel 8_24_2020

Orlando’s Dandelion Community Cafe has permanently closed amid the coronavirus pandemic and after employees there said they were organizing to address issues with the restaurant.

The vegetarian cafe at 618 N.Thornton Ave. posted on its website that it had closed because of a “variety of factors outside of our control” including the impact of coronavirus.

Opened in 2006,the eatery had hosted art shows and live music and offered a menu of organic options. It was named the best vegetarian restaurantin Florida by Mental Floss in 2017.

“It is with a heavy heart, but clear mind,that I make the decision to per manently close our special place,” a post signed by founder Chris Blanc on the website said. “It has proven extremely difficult to operate a business in this current environment.The last few months have required an almost complete change to our
business in the way we serve our community, at great financial cost.”

The cafe’s voicemail, which was unable to accept messages Tuesday morning, said
it was closed until further notice. Most ofthe cafe’s staff had recently
signed a letter presented to management announcing they were forming a union,
according to Kyle Kern, secretary-treasurer of the Central Florida Industrial Workers
of the World labor union. The group, dubbed “The Seeds,” did not intend to move toward contract negotiations or a National Labor Relations Board election, but wanted to address grievances with the cafe directly as a group, citing issues such as low pay compared with rising rent costs, Kern said.

In an Aug. 11 Facebook post,the group said the cafe had “locked out” its staff for
organizing. Pickets were held outside the restaurant. “The owners of Dandelion have decided they will destroy their entire business to avoid sitting down with their employees to discuss serious problems with their workplace,” Kern said in an emailed statement Monday night. “This is the lowest of the low.”

Kern said about 15 hourly employees would be losing their jobs because of the
move.

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