Eight months after employees brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against Four Barrel Coffee and its founder Jeremy Tooker, Four Barrel’s current owners Tal Mor and Jodi Geren say their cafe’s sales are nearly back to what they were before the news broke. Still, Mor and Geren tell the Chronicle that they’re not yet ready to fulfill their original promise of divesting from the company and making it an employee-owned co-op.
In late January, Mor and Geren told Eater roughly the same thing: They weren’t yet divesting because they were “stabilizing the company financially so these shares [of Four Barrel] are meaningful.” Apparently not enough has changed in the intervening months, with the co-founders using their personal resources to keep the business afloat. Eater SF has contacted Mor and Geren for further comment.
Even with their three cafes — the flagship on Valencia, another in Portola, and the Mill with Josey Baker bread — back to business as usual, Four Barrel has experienced financial losses in terms of its wholesale business. At least 50 percent of wholesale accounts had ditched the brand by February, many of them publicly excoriating the coffee roaster. As a result, it laid off employees and scaled back its roasting operations.
Four Barrel’s latest promise: According to the Chronicle, if Four Barrel becomes profitable in 2018, Geren and Mor say they’ll profit-share with employees. But with wholesale accounts key to the company’s business model, and less likely than everyday cafe customers to forgive and forget the lawsuit, the company’s financial path forward remains unclear.