Milk Street Cafe Owner Sacks 21 Employees As Consequence Of Occupy Wall Street Demonstration

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Occupy Wall Street movement, which says its goals include improving the economic lot for 99 percent of Americans, may have some explaining to do to some cafe workers now out of a job.

Marc Epstein, owner of the Milk Street Cafe at 40 Wall Street, just let 21 employees go.

The reason? The barricades police have set up throughout Wall Street as a consequence of the ongoing demonstration.

In June, he opened the New York branch of the Boston shop, which has a 30 year history. Epstein says he leased the space on Wall Street because it was next to a pedestrian plaza – and his was the only restaurant along that plaza.

“The opening was perfect,” Epstein told “The food was delicious, the customers were happy, and the line was out the door.”

Customers kept coming back, Epstein said.

“Everything was going in the right direction. Sales continued to grow. We started to build our catering business. Costs were going down. I felt that by October or November we would break even.”

Then the Occupy Wall Street movement launched.

“I came one Monday morning and I found the exit by the 2 or 3 subway station closed. I saw all these barriers – barricades – all up and down my street,” Epstein said. “At first I thought nothing of it, but after a week… it’s been six or seven weeks now.”

Six or seven weeks of marches and occasional clashes between police and protesters. So the barricades have remained in place.

“The end result of it is that it completely destroyed the pedestrian traffic on Wall Street. Completely destroyed it,” Epstein said. “It is a desolate, police-controlled area.”

The cafe has a capacity of 150 seats. At the height of lunch hour Tuesday, Epstein estimated the shop was half full. With those sorts of numbers, he’s had to let people go.

“We eliminated 21 positions in the company,” Epstein said. “First time in 30 years I’ve laid anybody off.”

They’ve also cut back their hours at the New York location, closing now at 3 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.

However, Epstein doesn’t lay all the blame at the feet of Occupy Wall Street.

“I think this is an issue of both Occupy Wall Street and the city officials. There’s protest and how you react to protest,” Epstein said. “If the barriers do not come down, I do not see how we can survive. This has got to become like America again. You have to be free to walk around.”

“Everybody should understand the consequences of their actions,” he said.

Epstein says he’s brought his plight to the attention of city officials and police and has been met with empathy. But the barriers are still in place.

“Everybody’s empathetic and they’ll have lots to say at my eulogy,” he said. “I don’t want to be eulogized. I want the barriers down.”

What do you make of Epstein’s story? Sound off in our comments section.

  • firedup49

    The 21 people that got laid off, can thank Obama, and his cronies. Remember Obama said he supports them with Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Democrats.

  • Butch Blosc

    The goal of OWS is the communist takeover of America. Do you think they give a DAMN about jobs???

  • Cromulent

    These are just the wages of Obamanomics.

  • texrealist

    It is a shame that stupidity and ignorance are not terminal illnesses…

  • SerfCityHereWeCome

    Are the braindead and 100% talentless TV execs really so blind as to not be able to see the new reality show screaming to be made and aired here?– “Gunnery Sgt Hartman Gouges Out Zuccotti Park’s Eyeballs and Skullf*$ks It” Tonight on CBS!

  • Jaco

    Initiate a lawsuit against the owners of the park.

  • local

    However, Epstein doesn’t lay all the blame at the feet of Occupy Wall Street.

    “I think this is an issue of both Occupy Wall Street and the city officials. There’s protest and how you react to protest,” Epstein said. “If the barriers do not come down, I do not see how we can survive. This has got to become like America again. You have to be free to walk around.”


  • local

    The last lunch place in that location didn’t last either. Funny, there were no Occupy people around then. Who do you blame for that?

    BTW, maybe there’s no need for all the barricades on Wall Street? They relaxed them a few days ago, opening up some more space. The world still turned on its axis.

  • J

    And again, the stupidity of the useful idiots in Occupy Wall Street rears its ugly head. I wonder how many more young girls need to get raped while the group “handles it internally.” How many more workers have to lose their jobs because these dirt bags don’t want to go home to their apartments in the basement of mommy and daddy’s house4.

  • jane

    Now that the malcontents made their point[ what ever it is] Bloomberg should grow a spine and tell OWS GO HOME!!! Just because you don’t have jobs .Don’t ruin the community for your hopes of having another Woodstock…NOT.Also your mayor should send OWS the bill for police working overtime. Afterall they have $470.000 tax exempt money. Give the people a chance to have the business such as Mr. Esptein

  • Christopher R. Baker

    Capitalism provides a rich, wonderful environment for people to gather socially. Socialism seems to define itself by its attack on capitalism and eventually creates an environment where everyone is suspicious of his neighbor.

  • Randy Brown


  • James Woods

    I would say the police state is to blame.

    Im sure these folks will find new jobs to replace these.

  • OrlandoRican

    Hey, main stream media, including you Obama water carriers at CBS, these OWS movement are just like the Tea party movement. After all, how mant people lost their jobs because of the Tea Party? I’m waiting for an answer. How many you say? I don’t hear you, CBS.

  • Al Right

    The OWS Movement has collected over $600,000 in donations so far, and yet the homeless are shunned from partaking in their 5-Star Chef prepared meals…

    How about… Occupy a Soup Kitchen?
    Get more ows facts on my site:


    AdBusters who started the Flea Party is an “anti-consumerist” publication financed by, among other sources, the Georgie Soros-funded Tides Foundation. Dissent is fine but the leaders such as AdBusters want this obituary:

    Born 1776, Died 2012

    In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinborough, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

    “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover

    that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”

    “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

    From bondage to spiritual faith;

    From spiritual faith to great courage;

    From courage to liberty;

    From liberty to abundance;

    From abundance to complacency;

    From complacency to apathy;

    From apathy to dependence;

    From dependence back into bondage.”

    We must not let the new Bolsheviks write the obituary – read all about the 20 million DEAD

  • Rachel

    I’m sure all the anti-semites in the OWS bowel movement will be happy they are ruining a Jewish man’s business.

  • preston

    Yay for free markets! They in no way contributed to the recession, or the great depression. If you don’t support the free markets, then you must be non American, anti patriot, and a moocher! Companies should be allowed to commit white collar crimes, its American. It’s better that we arrest the protesters, they are only trying to initiate class warfare.
    All in all, those impoverished protesters are moochers, who are so uneducated they can’t even catch satire. They need to buy into propaganda, get their news from FOX and CNN, and not discredible sources like youtube. Silly uneducated protesters don’t even know what they are protesting about, according to CNN and FOX, of course.

  • SerfCityHereWeCome

    Hang in there, Mr. Epstein; only a matter of time before their permit gets revoked like in Madison for mass public chicken-choking. Then again, this being NYC…well, hang in there anyway Mark…

    • Butch Blosc

      Bloomberg doesn’t have the guts to move them. Many, many more businesses will die. That’s exactly what OWS wants.

    • Rachel

      Maybe they will all get dysentary from the piggish conditions they are creating. Gee…that would be a heartbreak, huh?

  • Elle

    Mr Epstein was actually doing something for people by employing them so they could support themselves and their families as opposed to pontificating and sqatting. So naturally his business and his employees are sacrificed to these self absorbed lice. America in the age of Obama.

  • Tom Menino

    Those 21 sandwich employees showing off their jobs and stuff. Man, they had it coming. They’re not one of the 99% if they insist on getting all jobby and having a paycheck and stuff. Man, Don’t they know that sitting on the sidewalk for 6 weeks smoking blunts and doing much of nothing is what it’s all about? Maaaan?

    • Preston

      You’d think that having a protest outside of your business would bring a lot of revenue, too bad the police barricaded the area, I’m sure there were a lot of hungry protesters from all the pot they must have been smoking.

  • Paul Roth

    OWS Protestors: Go home. Its cold outside. Get a job. Stop trying to find yet more ways to milk the system and those who work hard for a living. You are wasting your time and hurting those you claim to represent. Go home.

  • mark

    sounds like wall street is a special place on monopoly row, and city council doesn’t need Mr Epsteins sales receipts, or the employees earnings penalties. The former emp’s should protest the cities handling of free speech.

  • SerfCityHereWeCome

    Way to go, worthless Putrefy Wall Street parasites. I guess you shower-averse communist-and-nazi-backed useful idiots can at least take solace in the fact that you’re destroying the business of one of those “Wall Street Jews” you so despise.

  • ron

    It’s all part od Obama’s war on the middle class. Obama said he was on THE OWS’ side, afterall…..

  • Rhonda Tracey

    lazy punks deserve what you got.. now go sulk with your other loser friends.

    • Preston

      Arguing with emotions is unproductive, lets try to use logic here as to not discredit everything you say. In other words, lets leave emotions out of this, and let the grown ups talk unless you can contribute intellectually.

  • Deserttrek

    water cannons and an education
    run them into the rivers

    these fleabaggers should be in Washington DC and every state capital protesting the crroked politicians and the egomaniacs like blloomberg

  • David Huser

    I think the problem may be drugs. According to the Daily Rash, Ron Paul visited the Occupy Wall Street demonstration and passed out LSD to the protesters.

  • Mandy

    Blame the mayor for allowing this to go on without pernits. The vendors are the taxpayers in this area and yet they have no rights. The mayor needs to close this down and clear this protesting trashers out of the way. Enough is enough. They should not have been allowed to get to this extreme. Recall of the mayor if that is a possiblity.

  • Trajan Long

    Obama is the worst President in history, and his warmed over socialism for the naive spoiled and ignorant is an indication of how far the US has declined since WW2. The greatest standard of living in history was produced by the US after WW2 but the spoiled brats that generation produced are in many cases a disgrace, morally and intellectually. Competitive free markets always produce better results than government controlled entities.

  • Nonyabisnass Patrick

    By the end of November I am sure that many of these filthy protestors will be home in time to play the new release of Modern Warefare 3 on their XBOX in their parents basements.

  • red onion

    The restaurant is four blocks away from the protest. The facts in this story just do not jive.

  • rb

    The restaurant is four blocks away from the protest. This story is just not true.

  • Nonyabisnass Patrick

    The smell generated by these lazy bunch of useless idiots is driving new yorkers crazy. Hey…I got an idea…how about “occupying” a bathtub for a change.

  • Bob Bieber

    The problem isn’t Wall Street. It is the politicians in Washington
    who get bought by Wall Street.

  • Sparky222

    Yes sir, this is what socialism looks like, unemployment and desolation.

  • hattmann

    He should sue the firm that owns the park, much the same way a renter can sue a landlord who refuses to quiet a rwdy neighbor. Then I would sue the entity that holds the money for Occupy WallStreet. That money is held in somweones name

  • Dan Scheper

    They have been allowed to exercise their 1st amendment rights, now it’s time to move on. They are effecting the rights of other Americans and they need to all go home, or be arrested! NOW!

    It is their goal to collapse our economy, we shouldn’t be surprised they have no problem with the disruptions they are causing. ARREST THEM ALL NOW!

  • Jim Busse

    he ought to be suing the city for letting these folks occupy an area without a permit.. I’d also like to see the names and nationalities and legal status in our country for those fired. Maybe the occupy folks are doing us a favor.

  • EasterBunny

    A jew lost his business. Awww. Now he has to tap into his enormous cash hoard if someone like Mike Jewmberg doesn’t take care of him.

  • the_dude

    This shop owner can go to hell. Occupy wall st is not going anywhere besides I scored the best pot of my life at the occupy camp site.

    • Nonyabisnass Patrick

      yea…and don’t forget the freedom to deficate anywhere you like.

  • marg1

    Take lots of photos and identify the OWS participants. They will be the useful idiots who will try to keep us from voting.

  • AnneP

    How many jobs have been lost or eliminated due to BO’s cynical ploy for re-election?

  • Seppie

    Poor Mike is attempting to lay off some blame on NYC officials I suspect, to help protect his investment, physically, from retribution from the OWS idiots.

    These dolts are getting more attention, more ‘free’ great food, sex and drugs now than they ever received in their life…they’re not going anywhere soon, unless the city(ies) they ‘Occupy” start busting some heads and making a few serious arrests and examples…poor snow flakes!

  • Chippy55

    Mayor Giulianni said he a rule: No sleeping on the street. Now they all have stds, hotel rooms are unoccupied (no pun), there’s garbage every where, it stinks, there’s pickpockets and thieves, fornication and defecation.
    So, this is what the peeps of the Big Apple wanted, or else why did they elect Blooming Idiot? Same way with Chicago, that’s what the majority wanted: a former tough guy ballerina who closes the beaches down when it’s 100 degrees out coz he’s scared of the bands of roaming idiots runnin’ around.
    You people made your bed by electing another Liberal, now sleep in it.

  • Tim Lieder

    So? He should offer discounts and specials for the OWS people and try selling his stuff on the street where the protests are going. I’m sure they’ll prefer to buy his food than newspapers from the Young Socialist Alliance.

  • jerseyjoey

    OWS if you want to turn your cause into a real movement that all us Americans can support or at least agree with then you must take your gripes in mass to washington DC and direct it at the senate and congress, they are the corrupt ones who let wall street go wild in the first place.

  • rolandotx

    I’d like to know how many of these losers there actually are on the protest lines. Is it more than 1,000?

  • No One Important

    Annnnnnnnnnnnnd look at that, brand new poll just released 40 minutes ago. . . .from the OWS crowd. . .

    More than half of the Zuccotti Park protestors voted for President Obama in 2008. But 73% now disapprove of the commander- in- chief and 25% plan to skip the 2012 election, according to a survey by Fordham University.

    “The group is very liberal and part of the Democratic base,” Panagopoulos said. “But a surprising number don’t plan to vote.”

    The OWS rabble rousers seem to detest the Tea Party movement, with 75% giving it two thumbs down.

    But, like their conservative counterparts, the Zuccotti Park denizens don’t trust Washington to “do what is right” and 97% disapprove of how Congress is handling its job.

    More protestors identify with the Socialist Party than the Republican Party, and more than a third identify with no party at all, the survey found.

    The majority of the nation put republicans in charge of the house of representatives, but more of the protestors support the communist party than the republican party. . . .

    Sooooooooooo who do you purport to represent?

    it isn’t 99% of the nation. . . it isn’t me. . . .sounds like you guys are nothing but a bunch of whack jobs. . . .

  • brooklyn4ever

    All of you flea infested ingrates need to pick up your dirty laundry and crawl back into the holes that you came out of. Do you really think that you have made any point or that anyone truly gives a damn about any of you freeloaders? I am sick of you camping out in my neighborhood doing nothing. I now have a serious issue when I can’t walk down a street because of barricades and have to show my work ID to “prove” that I belong where I need to be while all of you slum and have free reign. GET LOST, no better yet, stay and wait until 2 feet of snow fall and maybe you’ll all just freeze to death.

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