EFF protests close The Smokehouse and Grill, 29 employees left without jobs

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Protest action led by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has forced The Smokehouse and Grill to close up shop.

The restaurant became embroiled in controversy due to its affiliation with Adam Catzavelos, the South African holidaymaker who enraged the public with his racist rant made on a beach in Greece.

The Smokehouse and Grill targeted over Catzavelos links

Following the very public fallout, incensed citizens made it their mission to uncover all of Catzavelos’ personal information. This resulted in harassment of the man’s family and business associates.

One of those business interests, The Smokehouse and Grill in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, was targeted by the EFF on 6 September. Catzavelos had been a minority shareholder in the restaurant but had his stake immediately revoked following the public outcry.

However, this was not enough to satiate the EFF’s appetite for retribution. A group of members descended on the restaurant, disrupting operations by standing on tables, singing and chanting struggle songs.

However, according to a report by African News Agency (ANA), which cites statements made by the restaurant’s employees, staff members were threatened by the group of protesters. A manager at the restaurant said he had been surrounded by a group of EFF members, who were brandishing steak knives they had picked up from the tables.

Patrons avoid the eatery, forcing business to close

Since the events, the restaurant has lost most of its customers – with patrons, understandably, unwilling to put themselves in the firing line. The restaurant owner and director issued a statement, saying:

“Trading at the restaurant since the racism scandal has, understandably, been slow and, as a result, the restaurant began operating at an unsustainable loss. The threats to our staff and the disruption to customers from the EFF compounded the reputational damage at the operation, which has resulted in its closure.

As such, 29 people have lost their jobs, as well as the option to participate in an employee share ownership trust we had been investigating for the 25% stake formerly held by Adam Catzavelos. Our loyal staff and the people they support will suffer the most as a result this turn of events.”

The Smokehouse and Grill maintain that it denounced Catzavelos’ racist utterances two weeks before the EFF actively began protesting at the establishment. The statement went on to add:

“It beggars belief that businesses can be thus threatened, seemingly without a thought to the people who will be most affected and the families they support. In closing, we reiterate our position regarding racism and discrimination. The Smokehouse and Grill reject racism and discrimination in all its forms. It is important there is no doubt about what we stand for and what we stand against.”

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