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Protesters gather outside Willow Tavern to crack down on allegations of sexism and harassment


one month later new York Times report good With the troubling allegations detailed against Lummi Island’s critically acclaimed Willow Inn, locals are turning the heat on management. A group of about 50 protesters on Friday, May 28 gathered outside the restaurant During dinner, in response to complaints from 35 former employees against chef Blaine Wetzel and manager Reid Johnson, carrying signs that read “More Decency Less Awards” and “Willow Wore Out Welcome.”

according to original times Reporting from April, Wetzel and Johnson observed a pattern of sexism, sexual harassment, and racist bullying over the years at the Willow Inn, and tricked customers into thinking that the materials sourced from outside vendors (including grocery stores such as Costco) were local. was cultivated. .

Former employees cited in the April article were Lummi Island locals who started working at the Willow Inn when they were teenagers, and claim that some male kitchen workers touched them inappropriately and made them drink alcohol. One said that her male co-workers had made a joke about “Lumi Island 16” implying that “you were available for sex, and that any kind of scary and violent behavior was okay.” Wetzel denied these allegations; Johnson did not respond to a request for comment.

Sources in the article also say that Wetzel used “racist language” in the workplace. a chef told times that he and another Asian-American staff member told Wetzel about a racist slur directed at them, but Wetzel denied ever using the slur (staff resigned within a day). in response to times, Wetzel denied the allegations, saying, “My stepmother and brother are Chinese, my wife is Mexican, and anyone who would claim I was a racist is lying.”

The result has been swift. new York Times Says 10 people (about half of the Willow Inn staff) resigned Soon after its report was published and hundreds of reservations were cancelled, 500 deposits were returned to customers without comment. In addition, several local purveyors, including Camber Coffee, Constant Crush Winery and Wander Brewing, have ended their relationship with the restaurant.

Willow Inn now has one “Workplace Action Plan” is detailed on its website which notes that it will “organize and provide compulsory (paid) training for sexual harassment and retaliation prevention, inclusion/diversity and leadership training of managers.” In sourcing section, the restaurant lists companies such as Costco and Cisco as vendors among smaller partners. A description in that section reads, “We want to be absolutely clear with our product sourcing, a lack of transparency as to the origin of our products will only discredit the excellent materials we work with and the craftsmen who make them.” Huh.”

times Spoke to some protesters gathered on Friday, who seemed unimpressed by the restaurant’s efforts to increase transparency. Some organizers reportedly had heated conversations with a man and woman outside the Willow Inn as dinner service continued; Another cooked hot dog for the gathered crowd. One protester, who was aboard his boat with sails reading “Bye by Blaine and Reid”, told the newspaper, “It is too late for them to change their ways.

Eater Seattle reached out to Wetzel and Johnson for comment on the recent protests, but did not hear back before this piece was published.

2579 West Shore Drive, Lummi Island, WA 98262
(360) 758-2620



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