Smokehouse and Grill restaurant forced to close in wake of Catzavelos racism scandal

09 September 2018 - 15:03 By Timeslive
A member of the EFF at The Smokehouse and Grill, where the party demanded an apology from the manager for Adam Catzavelos's racist slur.
A member of the EFF at The Smokehouse and Grill, where the party demanded an apology from the manager for Adam Catzavelos's racist slur.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

The Smokehouse and Grill restaurant in Braamfontein has been forced to close its doors as a result of the reaction to the racism scandal involving businessman Adam Catzavelos‚ who previously held a minority stake in the restaurant.

The restaurant said on Sunday this was despite the fact that Catzavelos had no operational involvement in the restaurant.

Catzavelos catapulted to notoriety last month after a video of him using the k-word to celebrate the fact that there were no black people around him on a beach holiday went viral.

In a statement‚ The Smokehouse and Grill said that the actions of the EFF‚ who had invaded the restaurant on Thursday‚ had further compounded bad trading conditions‚ forcing it to close its doors‚ resulting in the loss of 29 jobs. 

It said the EFF had threatened The Smokehouse and Grill staff members‚ “even surrounding one manager holding steak knives they had picked up from the restaurant tables”.

According to the restaurant‚ Catzavelos had been fired from the family business‚ with immediate effect‚ on August 21‚ the day his comments had came to the restaurant’s and the public’s attention‚ and more than two weeks before the EFF had decided to mobilise against the restaurant.

“On August 22 2018‚ the company publicly disassociated itself from his utterances via a media statement‚ informing the market he had been dismissed and that his shareholding in the family business and The Smokehouse and Grill was being unwound.

“The Smokehouse and Grill acted swiftly and decisively in managing the issue of the racism scandal – and‚ to reiterate‚ it did so more than two weeks before the EFF decided to disrupt trading at the restaurant‚” the statement read.

It stated that trading at the restaurant since the racism scandal had‚ understandably‚ been slow and‚ as a result‚ the restaurant had begun operating at an unsustainable loss.

“The threats to our staff and the disruption to customers from the EFF compounded the reputational damage at the operation‚ which has resulted in its closure.

“As such‚ 29 people have lost their jobs‚ as well as the option to participate in an employee share ownership trust we had been investigating for the 25% stake formerly held by Adam Catzavelos. Our loyal staff and the people they support will suffer the most as a result this turn of events‚” the restaurant said.

It said this development had taken place in a recessionary environment‚ with an unemployment rate above 25%‚ and in a country where there were more adults not at work than adults at work.

“It beggars belief that businesses can be thus threatened‚ seemingly without a thought to the people who will be most affected — and the families they support‚” it said.

It added: “In closing: We reiterate our position regarding racism and discrimination. The Smokehouse and Grill rejects racism and discrimination — in all its forms. It is important there is no doubt about what we stand for – and what we stand against.”