Davis Mr. Pickle’s Permanently Closed after Owner Calls BLM ‘the Flip Side of the KKK’

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What started with an employee wearing a “Black Lives Matter” button and the manager objecting has led to the decision by the corporate headquarters to permanently close Mr. Pickle’s in Davis.

The complaint by the employee led to a letter from the owner in which he said, “I am not going to debate all the reasons for not supporting them, you wouldn’t listen anyway.  The only dialogue you are interested in is one one-sided.”

He then stated, “The BLM is the flip side of the KKK.  Their tactics are out of the Mafia play book.”  He later added, “You and the BLM are the aggressors here, not I.”

An email from corporate on Wednesday afternoon indicated: “Mr. Pickle’s Inc. will be issuing a public statement this afternoon.  The Mr. Pickle’s Davis location is permanently closed.”

Later on Wednesday, a brief message was posted on social media.

“Mr. Pickles is a franchise network of Independently owned and operated shops.  Corporate has been notified of the alarming and painful statements made by the owner of the Davis shop to his staff.

“We made the decision to terminate his franchise and is now permanently closed for business.  If that location ever re-opens, it will be under new ownership that upholds our corporate standards.”

The incident began with an employee who wore Black Lives Matter buttons and was told that they couldn’t wear them.  The employee was supported by a number of co-workers and they went down to meet the owner in what was described as a non-confrontational manner last week.

The owner initially seemed opened to the discussion and strategies to address both the employees’ wish to publicly show support and a local call for businesses to show their support for this movement.

Other businesses were positive and supportive about displaying Black Lives Matters banners in their windows.

However, as the exchanges wore on, the owner’s messages became more contradictory and his letter was pointed.

In the letter, he accused the employees of coming to him “with the intention of forcing your beliefs and opinions on me.”  He claimed, “I have only acted and reacted in defense.”

Later he said, “I have no fear of the repercussions that may come from standing up to you.  I have no fear of the BLM.”  He said, “If Mr. Pickle’s Davis suffers window breakage, vandalism, or theft, I have names of the people I will hold responsible.”

He said, “By force, I have given in to allowing the pins.  If I had this to do over again there would be no pins, no jars, no discussion of BLM in my store, you would not get an inch.

“This stops now,” he said with bold underline.  “There is no more debating.”

The Davis Chamber sent out a statement this week, not related specifically to this incident, but stating, “The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and far too many others are heartbreaking, and have generated renewed attention on the urgent need to address longstanding inequities and injustices in America toward African Americans and all people of color.

“We at the Davis Chamber of Commerce strongly condemn acts of racial injustice and are committed to be part of the fight against racism,” the Chamber stated.  “Furthermore, we recognize the tremendous costs of systemic discrimination and believe that significant actions must be taken by the business community to advocate and work for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our society and in our economy.”

Phone calls to the employee on Wednesday were not returned, and efforts to reach the company or the local owner were also unsuccessful.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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40 thoughts on “Davis Mr. Pickle’s Permanently Closed after Owner Calls BLM ‘the Flip Side of the KKK’”

  1. John Hobbs

    Watch out for the “edit monster.” Here’s hoping the displaced employees can find work soon and that the former owner is declined further opportunities in the fast food industry.

  2. Chris Woodland

    BLM is the flipside of the KKK  the only thing I see is people cowering.      Down to the BLM just like the coward down to the KKK

    By the way I’m just exercising my first amendment rights just like this store owner

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Except for one problem – the first Amendment only states that Congress shall make no law…. It doesn’t say that a company can’t disavow themselves from you because you say something that doesn’t represent the image that they want….

      1. Alan Miller

        Are you implying it should be different?   That companies should not have the power to tell employees that can’t display a political statement at a public workspace?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Even without the KKK line, the letter was inappropriate in tone and content. He should have simply said, I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring politics into the workplace and left it at that. Or perhaps better yet, he could have made a statement like the Chamber made, and left it at that. Instead, he got defensive, insulting, and forgot he was representing a franchise.

      1. Alan Miller

        He should have simply said, I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring politics into the workplace and left it at that.

        Agree on that, though I would say not only not appropriate, but also could say it’s against store policy and been on solid ground.  The tone was terrible.

  3. Alan Miller

    I love the way both sides lost their jobs.  Makes you wonder if Mr. Pickles corporate was trying to get rid of a jar full of bad players by closing shop and clearing the slate of several problems, getting the company out of a  . . . . . . . . pickle . . . . . . . . one might say . . . . . . .

  4. Alan Miller

    Seems you left out one side of the story, going by the Enterprise article.  That the owner felt he was being intimidated by the employees and people they associated with.  I don’t know how true that is, as it’s not documented except by the owner’s calls to police, but it’s another side to the story.  Regardless, the owner absolutely failed with his rant.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      The owner didn’t get back to me so I didn’t have his side of the story. Nevertheless, his email was inappropriate. It was poorly handled by him and a sensitive issue was not handled sensitively.

        1. Keith Olsen

          Good find Ron on the Youtube link.

          Two sides to the story.

          I’ve talked to Mr. Mann (the owner) several times while buying sandwiches there,  he was always very cordial.  He worked hard, always seemed to be there working when I visited.  This is so wrong.  Things are getting crazy, it’s like the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

           

           

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Keith – I accept that there are two sides to the story. The problem is the letter which was inappropriate and not really equivocal. But for the email, he would have kept his business.

        2. Ron Oertel

          You know, the guy honestly acknowledged how he felt, and (apparently) was willing to work with his employees’ concerns.

          Seems like all-around bad judgement (perhaps not just from him), but you’d think there’d be a way to resolve all of it without permanent damage to him or his employees.

          I don’t see any great “sin” that can’t be overcome.

        3. Ron Oertel

          I will say that I see an increasing intolerance (in general) regarding opposing views.  Perhaps not just related to this issue.

          Sorry to say, but it’s as if (some) in the primarily younger generation no longer understand the underlying principle of free speech.

          Some seek to punish it.

          Some of them might be surprised to know that the ACLU’s mission supposedly is. (Actually, some in the ACLU might not even understand it, these days.)

        4. Ron Oertel

           David:  “But for the email, he would have kept his business.”

          I view his email (for the most part) as bringing up the same type of issues which ultimately led to his losing his business – as a result of the email.

          Talk about “irony”.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            That is probably true, but it put it on paper and forced corporate to act, whereas they probably would not have without the email.

        5. Ron Oertel

          It was poor judgement.

          What do you think of the (other) related article I posted below?  Regarding the husband who was fired?

          I did not watch that video.

        6. Ron Oertel

          Well, I went ahead and watched the video referenced, below.

          No – I don’t think that the husband should have been fired. I didn’t particularly like the way that his wife (or the person she was speaking to) handled the situation, but to fire the husband? After the guy “demanded” his name, and wouldn’t provide his own?

          Then, I just saw this:

          Robert Kiyosaki, widely followed author of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad,’ deletes tweet after calling protesters ‘losers’

          https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/personalfinance/robert-kiyosaki-widely-followed-author-of-rich-dad-poor-dad-deletes-tweet-after-calling-protesters-losers/ar-BB15CPTw?li=BBnbfcN

        7. Ron Oertel

          I went ahead and read the article regarding the “Rich Dad’s” author’s comments more carefully.

          Suffice it to say that he probably wouldn’t be allowed to own a Mr. Pickles, at this point.  Yikes! Then again, he doesn’t have to, I suppose.

          I sure appreciated the perspective of his book, though. Caused me to look at things differently, when I first read it. The principles in it challenge beliefs (and values, for that matter) – probably more so for those who consider themselves “liberal”. So, perhaps his views regarding the protests aren’t all that surprising.

        8. Alan Miller

          RO:  I will say that I see an increasing intolerance (in general) regarding opposing views.  Perhaps not just related to this issue.  Sorry to say, but it’s as if (some) in the primarily younger generation no longer understand the underlying principle of free speech.  Some seek to punish it.

          TRUER WORDS, RO; truer words have never been spoken.

          I now understand how extremist regimes come to power.   When the masses believe they are SO RIGHT that their views only can be heard, because the other side is SO DANGEROUS.  Yet, ironically, that very view is the most dangerous of all.  Free speech is the American core, except for one aspect of free speech:  actually implementing the view expressed in free speech that the other side doesn’t have free speech.  It is the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” of modern politics.  Actually, it’s the setting fire to the theater of modern politics.

          As I have said before, as a Jew who hates Nazis, I will forever defend their USA-given free speech rights to make absolute jackasses out of themselves.   The only thing worse than Nazis are those who would shut down their free speech.  Which is why I despise Antifa and all it stands for.

          Some of them might be surprised to know that the ACLU’s mission supposedly is. (Actually, some in the ACLU might not even understand it, these days.)

          Oi!   Lordy!    So, so, so true.  We have lost the soul of one of the most fundamental organizations of true American values.  We need a new one, a new ACLU, to do what the old one did.

        9. Keith Olsen

          Ron… the franchised owner of Mr Pickles was not “fired” … his franchise was revoked…. big diff… no clue that I’ve seen that he was reimbursed for any costs of his ‘buying the franchisee rights’… that’s just not “interesting”… goes to property rights…

          Bill, I know you once lived in San Mateo as I did for 40 years.  Did you know Mr. Pickles started in San Mateo? The first Mr. Pickles was just a hole in the wall located on El Camino close to the McDonald’s.  My son went to school with some of the guys who started the business.  They named their sandwiches after local high schools, the Aragon Don, the Hillsdale Knight, the Bearcat, etc…

          Hard to believe that little hole in the wall turned into a national franchise,  I see where the franchise costs are $50,000 and the startup costs are close to $200,000.  I feel for the owner, it sounds like he was trying to work it out.  I’d sure like to know his whole side of the story, what was he up against?  He had BLM protesters outside his business at one point and seemed afraid of having his store trashed.  Is this what it’s come too, you will kneel down to us or have your life and business destroyed?

          From the Enterprise:

          Mann wrote that he and his wife Bonnie were harassed by employees. “I am not one to bend to bullying or run away. The members of this crew that are a party to the bullying and attempted oppression of Bonnie and I had better understand that right now. I have no fear of the repercussions that may come from standing up to you.”

          Bonnie Mann said despite their efforts to resolve the issue, the shop was swiftly forced to close, putting their 10 employees out of work. She said some employees’ parents have called her “who support us 100 percent” but don’t feel comfortable speaking out publicly for fear of backlash.

          Isn’t that a sad state we’re in that people are afraid to show their support for the Mann’s because of possible repercussions?

          His email was somewhat over the top, but it was also his first amendment right.  Did he and his wife deserve to lose their business over that?  I say no!

  5. Alan Miller

    Other businesses were positive and supportive about displaying Black Lives Matters banners in their windows.

    How is this different than Muslim-owned businesses displaying an American Flag in their windows after 9-11?  Some businesses may believe in BLM, some may simply believe that black lives matter — and not understand the difference — or the politics of BLM itself.   And some Muslim-owned businesses could have been legitimately patriotic.

    It is also possible some businesses are displaying BLM because they feel intimidated or are trying to protect their business, as many Muslim-owned businesses did after 9-11.

  6. Keith Olsen

    First they came for Mr. Pickles, and I did not speak out…..

    So if you don’t back the BLM one can lose their livelihood and business?

    The same BLM who chanted, “Pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon” and “Dead cops now”.

    I often patronized Mr. Pickles and always found the owners and the employees to be very nice.

    This is so unfortunate, I hope the few people who are responsible realize what they’ve done to these nice hard working owners who I’m sure poured their lives and hearts into this business.  It’s sad it’s come down to this.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Keith: What do you think of this?

      Husband of woman who confronted neighbor for BLM message fired from SF financial firm

      https://www.sfgate.com/local/editorspicks/article/Lisa-Alexander-apology-Black-Lives-Matter-SF-15339447.php

      Regarding your comment:

      First they came for Mr. Pickles, and I did not speak out…..

      Can’t say that I care all that much so far about the results of these incidents, but I think you have a point.  I posted a video (earlier) above, showing the owner’s side of the story.

      For the most part, I’m simply trying to think of a way to incorporate that comment into a pun (e.g., when they “came for Mr. Pickles”).  Drawing a blank, so far.

    2. Alan Miller

      First they came for Mr. Pickles, and I did not speak out…..

      KO, so so true.  I don’t know if people see it yet, or if they will only see it after the coming civil war.  The thing is, I basically agree with the protestors about the reform needs, but I don’t agree with the political path that the movement itself sees as the solution.

      DG is also right that the guy lost his cool and blew it with that very poorly worded email.  I see what he was trying to say, but you just can’t say it that way.  It seems like there is a missing piece of that whole story, because it sounds like he was trying to work things out, and the employees wouldn’t meet him half way, and it sounds like something went down and everything fell apart, the spark that caused him to write that email.  May have been oil & water in personalities and/or politics.  Amazing:  everyone lost their jobs.

    3. Alan Miller

      For the most part, I’m simply trying to think of a way to incorporate that comment into a pun (e.g., when they “came for Mr. Pickles”).

      When the came for Mr. Pickles, I just wasn’t ready to dill with it . . .

      But when they came for me, it was a jarring experience that I could not relish.

      1. Keith Olsen

        When the came for Mr. Pickles, I just wasn’t ready to dill with it . . .
        But when they came for me, it was a jarring experience that I could not relish.

        Excellent…

    4. Alan Miller

      What do you think of this?

      Not sure why the guy got fired.  Supporting his wife for being pretty rude . . . and probably racist . . . but getting fired for those few words in the background . . . seems like witchunt time, due to extreme corporate fear of having the ‘racist’ label attached to them, and having the mob come at them on the internet.

      . . . and not sure why anyone would get so wound up about chalk.

  7. Bill Marshall

    Did you know Mr. Pickles started in San Mateo?

    Didn’t, until the ‘blow-back’… I was a Knight… fully understand your other referents… it was a tie between Aragon and SM High for who our “rivals” were (depending on ‘sport’)… Burlingame was ours, for tennis… all the B-team were members of the local tennis club… I and a buddy “whupped” them in Varsity doubles… we were behind 4-1 when our jerk coach asked the score… I and my partner hated the coach, as he had passed us both over for Varsity singles, even tho’ we were higher in ‘the ladder’… when told the score, “coach” said, “that figures”… I was about to serve, was so p’d-off, I served 3 aces in a row, and a ‘fourth’… it was actually slightly “out”, but our opponents called it “in” (my buddy glanced at me, we both knew it was “out”… but figured “whatever”)…

    When the set was over we came to coach, looking downcast, dragging our racquets… he asked the score, and we gloomily said 7-6… he said, “oh, nice try”… we waited until he had written it down in ink, then pointed out his error… we had WON, 7-6… he had assumed we lost… we walked to the bus before he could react, realizing we that “got him”… yeah, been “twisted” for a long time… and have loved most minutes of it…

     

  8. John Hobbs

    I’m laughing my … …. Outrage that white people can be held accountable for their hate speech? How many white people have ever been killed for talking back to a black person? Zero! Historically hundreds of black men have been killed and/or mutilated for speaking to a white woman in any manner. The first amendment means you can say what you want, but it doesn’t protect you from the consequences.

    If these entitled bigots don’t want to face these consequences they are also free to shut up. My favorite Karen video lately is the white woman who verbally assaults and then grabs a Latina in a Tucson gas station and gets a right hand to the face for her reward. OMG, you guys are ridiculous/hilarious.

    1. Ron Oertel

       How many white people have ever been killed for talking back to a black person? Zero!

      I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve been verbally and physically attacked solely due to the color of my skin (white).  Without even saying anything.

      More than once, and have witnessed it with others as well.

      But, there seems to be a deep-seated resistance to acknowledge what occurs, at times. To the point of other “white” people then doubting that it occurred, and insulting me for noting it. (That’s the part that bothers me – even more than the attacks. It’s disgusting.)

        1. Ron Oertel

          Pretty disgusting.  That guy already has 100 arrests?  He looks so young.

          It’s fortunate that the woman didn’t hit her head on the fire hydrant, on her way down.  Otherwise, she’d probably be dead.

          There was a recent, racially-based attack on an elderly Asian man in San Francisco.  I posted an article/video link to it, previously.  Someone said something about “hating Asians” in that video, as I recall.  The crowd seemed to encourage the attack.

          In general, I would think that a lot of street crime has a racial component to it, even if not specifically noted at the time.

          The lack of honesty regarding this issue is what separates me most clearly, from many of those with more liberal views. They don’t want to hear or acknowledge it, and seek to downplay it. It’s hurtful, perhaps even more than the actual attacks.

          And ultimately, the lack of honesty harms race relations, on a broader level.

          The same is true regarding ANY attacks based upon skin color, disability, sexual orientation, etc.

    2. Bill Marshall

      How many white people have ever been killed for talking back to a black person? Zero

      Very untrue…

      Historically hundreds of black men have been killed and/or mutilated for speaking to a white woman in any manner.

      Somewhat untrue… more likely, thousands, depending when you ‘start’ “history”…

      Just saying… and you conflate killing with serious injury/mutilation…

      I often respect your perspective (even if I disagree), but ‘hyperbole’… you’re better than that… respectfully, I suggest you avoid hyperbole…

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