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Former Employees Allege ‘Systemic Racism’ at Dandelion Chocolate

Also: A food worker calls out those who rush to dine outdoors, and more news to start your day

Dandelion Chocolate
Former workers at SF’s Dandelion Chocolate say its management reacts poorly to racial incidents

Former employees started calling Dandelion Chocolate out after social media posts expressing solidarity with Black Lives Matter

Dandelion Chocolate, a Mission District-based bean-to-bar chocolate brand with retail shops and cafes in SF, Las Vegas, and Tokyo, has “culture issues with anti-Blackness not being treated seriously,” former employee Adonis Valentine tells Mission Local, Valentine says that the company’s general manager took extra care to make certain that people of darker complexion were always particularly nice and smiley,” and was put on a performance plan for being “aggressive.” Valentine quit in August of 2019 when, they say they realized, “every single person who was having an issue with being deemed aggressive is Black.”

In another case, former employee Cheyenne Eisert says that in March of 2019, a manager texted her a photo of an orangutan with the words “met your distant cousin.” Dandelion’s CEO, Todd Masonis, tells Mission Local that the company transferred that manager “to a different location, one that had lower tips.” Another employee, Gjaidan Stewart, who had first brought the texting incident to company HR, was transferred to that same location, despite previous requests not to work with the alleged troubling texter. “It seemed very pointed and intentional as a way to manage me out,” Stewart says.

Masonis says that the company is “rethinking” how it responds to incidents like those from last year, but that “I think a lot of these incidents were from in the past — doesn’t excuse them — but it just means I think our thinking has evolved over time.”

And in other news...

  • Restaurant owners hope to close Ritch Street from Townsend to Brannan Streets to allow outdoor dining, one of 13 as yet unspecified full street closures requested across the city. [Hoodline]
  • In Silicon Valley, black restaurant owners say the recent effort to support their businesses has been nice, but the surge is already tapering off. [San Jose Spotlight] Meanwhile, Justin Phillips writes that “white people are really only spending more money at black businesses that feel safe and familiar to them — soul food shops or bakeries with easily searchable online reviews,” which means that places that focus on serving their local communities are losing out on that influx of new business. [SF Chronicle]
  • The sign at Chinatown’s Hang Ah Tea Room, one of the oldest dim sum spots in the U.S., was defaced over the weekend. [ABC 7]
  • SB 939, a bill intended to help restaurants negotiate their post-pandemic rents with landlords, has failed and won’t be moving forward. [Commercial Observer]
  • Napa and Sonoma counties are open for indoor dining and wine tasting, but food/wine workers are nervous after the region sees a spike in cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). [SF Chronicle]
  • The world now knows that San Francisco chef Melissa King won the latest season of reality competition show Top Chef All Stars, which aired its finale Thursday night. She also won $10,000 as the “fan favorite” in the show’s online poll, and King says she’ll donate that money to Black Visions Collective, Asian Americans for Equality, the Asian Youth Center and The Trevor Project. [San Jose Mercury News]
  • Roma’s, a new “farm-to-table Italian eatery” planned in the old La Briciola space in SoMa, is named after Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Expect pastas served under “a rainbow flag of inclusivity,” Roma says, with an opening planned for later this summer. [Hoodline]
  • A second location of Comal Next Door is slated to open today with a grab-and-go menu of tacos, burritos, and salad bowls. [SF Chronicle]
  • SF-based food delivery app DoorDash, which currently faces a lawsuit from San Francisco’s District Attorney over how it classifies its workers, just closed $400 million more in funding, which brings its valuation up to almost $16 billion. [SF Business Times]
  • Azalina Eusope, the owner of Noe Valley Malaysian spot Mahila and food hall fave Azalina’s, tells finance writer Kerry Hannon that the pandemic has put her “back in survival mode,” but she doesn’t “want a loan that will keep putting me in the hole. That’s stupid. I have to take care of myself. I can’t spend the rest of my life paying off my debt.” [New York Times]
  • Culture writer Rae Alexandra says the pandemic version of Zeitgeist is “unceasingly, extraordinarily unnatural.” [KQED]
  • Robert Carter, a Sacramento restaurant server, says in an opinion piece that “those most eager to eat out are the same folks who never took this pandemic very seriously in the first place” and says that restaurant reopening, as a whole, is “a frightening situation.” [SF Chronicle]
  • 24-hour Castro diner Orphan Andy’s has made social distancing changes to its dining room that includes clear plastic shower curtains galore. [SFist]