New York’s ‘Rock-Star’ butcher closes as staff march on BLM removal, a sign of pride
The first sign of trouble for Fleisher’s came on July 22. It was the day Rob Rosania, a leading investor in Brooklyn-based artisan butcher shop, received a text message from a friend in Westport, Connecticut, who was offended by symbols supporting Black Lives Matter in the storefront of the local company store.
Rosania, a real estate developer known for gentrifying the county’s urban areas, called CEO John Adams and ordered their removal. Adams, the company’s fourth executive in as many years and just two months after taking office, took the train from New York to the company’s outlets in Westport and Greenwich to remove the signs, in more of those displaying LGBTQ pride support, then returned to do the same at its two New York locations.
The employees had none of that, mostly because Adams, who had just moved to New York from the Bay Area, came up with a promise to be accountable to the company of about 40 workers. At least half identify as BIPOC or non-binary or queer.
“I told him he failed,” recalls Ajani Thompson, 32, the only black butcher worker in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood., who said workers hoped Adams would act as a buffer for Rosania, who has become more involved in the company since he first invested in 2015. “You were trying to get our trust, and I don’t feel comfortable here. I don’t feel safe walking into work because you didn’t.
Thompson went out with some three dozen workers, forcing the company to close the doors of all its outlets as the shortage of workers in the country makes it difficult, if not impossible, for many companies to fill positions. Adams put the signs back in place within 24 hours and messaged employees with photos to prove it, and the company now needs to rehire staff at each location. A notice at its location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan says it won’t open again until at least the end of August.
Fleisher’s was founded in 2004 by Joshua and Jessica Applestone, a couple described by The New York Times as “rockstar butchers” in a 2009 article, and recently celebrated in a Daily Mail article for providing “the world’s most expensive steak” to Wally’s at Resorts World Las Vegas. The 195-day dry-aged bone-in porterhouse rib eye garnished with black truffles was priced at $ 20,000, while a similar version dry-aged for 200 days and weighing 60 ounces remains on the menu for $ 1. $ 000 per plate. Thousand-dollar dinners aside, the company, which estimated revenues of between $ 5 million and $ 10 million, is unprofitable, though all four stores are turning cash-positive again after dipping into the red. during the pandemic and incurred debts. to cover supplier orders.
Rosania, who is said to be a renowned vintage champagne collector for apartment renovations in San Francisco, New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and DC Her biggest project is in the Bay Area, where her company Maximus has developed the neighborhood of Parkmerced in San Francisco. with 9,000 apartments over two decades. It was to be the seat of one of WeWork’s biggest projects, though the failed startup withdrew from its pledge to invest $ 450 million, which Rosania’s company later sued.
Since first investing in Fleisher’s six years ago, Rosania has raised some $ 17 million, much of it in quarterly installments of around $ 1 million or $ 2 million.
“Think of me as an equal and none of this was supposed to happen,” says Thompson, who immediately resigned along with two dozen colleagues. Others who left with him are waiting to be fired. “It’s crazy to think of someone as inferior and then want them to provide for you.”