Two Ferndale restaurants operated by the embattled Working Class Outlaws restaurant group appear coming under new ownership, though WCO denies that a sale has taken place. A Michigan Liquor Control Commission licensing application shows that Public House and Antihero’s licenses are undergoing a transfer of ownership to an entity registered to Brian Kramer of Kramer Restaurant Group.
Kramer is the owner of multiple restaurants in Ferndale including Pop’s For Italian, Rosie O’Grady’s, and One-Eyed Betty’s. Acquiring Public House and Antihero — located between 231 and 241 W 9 Mile — would further solidify Kramer’s control over the well-trafficked downtown block.
Kramer declined to provide comment, but said in an email that a full statement would likely be available as soon as next week. Sharon LaVoisne of Working Class Outlaws said in an email that there had not been a sale despite the liquor license transfers. Both establishments are listed as either closed or temporarily closed by Google and Yelp and their phone numbers are disconnected.
The Working Class Outlaws restaurant group faced backlash over the summer after former employees at Imperial and Public House came forward on social media with allegations that the restaurant group fostered a toxic work environment and turned a blind eye to accusations of racism and sexual harassment. The claims, which were verified by Eater and other outlets, resulted in the temporary closures of Imperial, Public House, and Antihero. At least five employees from the restaurant group’s bar team later resigned in protest. Eventually, operations manager Jeff King, the subject of multiple harassment and sexual misconduct allegations, resigned from the group.
Working Class Outlaws’ other owners, Sharon and Perry LaVoisne, have since reopened Imperial as the sole operators of the restaurant group, according to the Detroit News. The owners told the outlet in August that they have employed a third-party human resources manager and reworked the restaurant group’s management structure in the aftermath of the accusations.
Update, October 14, 2020, 4:52 p.m.: This story has been update with comment from Sharon LaVoisne.
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• After Allegations of Abuse, Ferndale’s Imperial to Reopen With Restructured Ownership [Detroit News]
• Imperial Temporarily Closes Amid Social Media Claims of Toxic Work Culture, Harassment [ED]