A proposal from Four Barrel co-owners Tal Mor and Jodi Geren to rename their embattled coffee company The Tide and transfer its ownership to employees is being met with some applause, but even more skepticism today.
The plan comes as a response to allegations that Four Barrel founder Jeremy Tooker sexually harassed and assaulted eight women at the company, accusations that are detailed in a discrimination lawsuit against Four Barrel which was first reported by The SF Chronicle. According to the lawsuit, Mor and Geren were aware of Tooker’s alleged misconduct, but ignored their employees’ complaints and discouraged them from “creating drama.”
In an apology letter released yesterday, Mor and Geren outlined the new corporate structure, pleading with customers and wholesalers to continue patronizing the business. As Mor and Geren revealed this weekend, Tooker resigned as CEO in November, and he’s now divesting his 50 percent stake in the company. Their plan is to give Tooker’s 50 percent stake in the company to employees, and eventually divest their own shares until it’s 100 percent employee-owned. The statement did not provide a timeline for either of those actions.
Some industry commentators, like Berkeley-based chef and food writer Samin Nosrat, applauded the effort.
Take note: This is how you take responsibility for your actions. This is how you move forward. pic.twitter.com/x1L4YvaRSh— Samin Nosrat (@CiaoSamin) January 9, 2018
But others conveyed their doubt as to the sincerity of the apology and the motives for restructuring the company.
On the contrary: this exactly how to try to swindle your way out of the mess you made. Don’t be fooled. https://t.co/PQ5NGArZRZ— Caldwell Coffee (@CaldwellCoffee) January 9, 2018
Some responded with jokes referencing Tide detergent, implying that the new name was an attempt to launder the old business.
Others, like the owner of a Lansing, Michigan based coffee shop Strange Matter Coffee Co., pointed to Geren and Mor’s alleged complicity and silence in response to employee’s complaints about Tooker.
Meanwhile, more criticism of The Tide and Four Barrel is still rolling in.
This isn’t the time for you (the business owner) to salvage your brand or announce a name change. What are you doing to help those who were harassed? What steps do you have in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Have you personally apologized to all those affected?— Moth (@GreenBugHug) January 9, 2018
This statement is dripping with denial and victim blaming. What kind of not cold brew koolaid are you drinking that blinds you to the damage you’ve cause? Jodi and Tal YOU ARE BEING SUED TOO! You don’t get to back out of this lawsuit pretending that you are doing something good.— Jasper Wilde (@sassy__barista) January 9, 2018