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Cafe Gratitude

From: Anna C.
Sent on: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 12:31 PM
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Cafe Gratitude
Cafe Gratitude's San Francisco outpost.

Café Gratitude’s legal woes stemming from lawsuits brought by former employees have been resolved—what exactly that means for any of the parties involved, they aren’t saying.

In November, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, owners of the chain of raw, vegan restaurants announced that they would shutter restaurants due to the financial strain of defending two lawsuits brought by restaurant employees that alleged illegal tip pooling and inappropriate pay designations, among other things. There are seven Café Gratitude locations in the Bay Area, including vegan Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre, and an eighth location in Los Angeles that is popular with the Hollywood set.

According to Stephen Sommers, the lawyer for former employees Sarah Stevens and Ravi Shankar, the “matter has been settled” and he is not allowed to discuss the terms.

Matthew Engelhart echoed Sommers' statement.

So, will the restaurants remain open?

“Some will close and some will stay open,” Engelhart said.

Engelhart said that he was feeling relieved following the resolution, and that looking forward, he would be focusing on business in Southern California, “where the real action is.”

Part of the contention between the two parties has always been how much money the Engelhart's and the Café Gratitude empire have at their disposal. Sommers told the Bay Citizen in November that “these are two very rich people who have a hobby”.

A statement posted on Café Gratitude’s website December 16th solicted donations for a “legal defense fund” and stated that “the plaintiff’s attorney is incredulous that there is not a pile of money somewhere to extract”. Engelhart said that even though the legal issues had been resolved, they are still accepting donations.

“Just because it’s resolved doesn’t mean we haven’t spent a whole lot of money,” he said.

Source: The Bay Citizen (


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