Several dozen protestors gathered to demonstrate against their former employers outside the BelAir Cantina at Water and Humboldt streets on July 28.

The Comet Cafe is owned by Mojofuco Restaurants, a group which also owns the BelAir Cantina, both Fuel Cafe locations, and other bars and restaurants around Milwaukee. The protest came after Comet Cafe employees said they were fired as retaliation for demanding safer working conditions.

Owner Leslie Montemurro announced that the Comet Cafe on East Side of Milwaukee would close indefinitely on July 5, followed by the Fuel Cafe on Center Street in Riverwest on July 12.

“This decision was difficult, but necessary, as both restaurants have struggled to remain financially viable during the COVID-19 health crisis,” said Montemurro. “Staff has been informed of the closures.”

But two former workers felt there were other issues behind the closings, related to employee health. A proper COVID-19 plan was never put in place, and workers complained about safety hazards inside Comet Cafe. Because the hood vents did not work, the kitchen reportedly had regular temperatures of over 110-degrees.

The Comet Cafe workers who were recently fired held the protest outside BelAir Cantina to demand severance pay from the owners. Dozens of workers had signed a list of safety demands in early July, then found themselves fired three days later.

© Photo

Joe Brusky

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