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.

  • Nick

    The OWS movement has $300,000 in funding. The fired workers should just take their pay out of that. Or is the OWS money hungry like the so called 1%’s?

  • 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 Habitat for Humanity?
    Get more ows facts on my site:



  • WJDochertaigh

    The disheveled occupier in ZooCotti Park that waves he communist china flag is he ideal representative of ‘OWS’ – nasty dirty vagrant without knowledge or sense.
    If capitalism is that bad then depart for what few commie countries are left.
    Homeowner, productive worker, community college alumni – aka true 99%

  • Steve

    We all know the OWS mission. But it’s the OVERREACTION once again. These are not terrorists. NYC officials continue to use tactics that allow the NYPD to act as a military force. ZERO broken windows versus the police force’s overtime.

  • Sick and Tired...Tired and Sick

    The only people that the residents and politians need to blame for the “occupiers” being there after 6 weeks is THEMSELVES. Their bleeding liberal hearts – by ALLOWING them to take up residence in the park in the first place. Now everyone is getting sick and tired of them making noise and stinking up the place. They should never have been allowed to park themselves after the first day of protesting – come – protest and then go home to wherever you came from. What the hell were they doing prior to coming to downtown Manhattan 6 weeks ago – stinking up someone else’s backyard? Many people agree that Wall St has been corrupt (bank -wise and other wise ) for a long time, as are many politians but to have a night slumber party is npot going to change anything. Targeting whos services you use and who you vote into office will change things. They are wasting their time and energy and turning lower Manhattan into a slum.

  • John Sharples

    Look at Milk Street’s Yelp reviews. Apparently their food is disgusting and it is way overpriced. Maybe that explains their difficulties, and not people expressing their First Amendment freedoms.

  • Noahfingwhey

    Now I get it! When they say that they are the 99% they mean they are 99% of the worthless, lazy low-lifes in the country gathered in one spot.

  • 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 or Occupy the Food Bank?
    Get more ows facts on my site:

  • III percenter

    This is the ultimate result of socialism/communism. There will always be the super rich and the powerful. Socialism/Communism decides only who will occupy those positions at the expense of the middle class.

  • rowley

    Bloomberg is responsible for not protecting the rights of the working taxpayers who lost jobs.

  • TurtleJoe

    Tea Party = Carry guns and talk about dissolving the government … no barricades…no beatings from cops

    Occupy = unarmed and want REFORM of the government… tear gas and a beating

    tea party = Patriots
    Occupy = terrorists/hippies/communists/lazy people

    yeah, that makes sense.

    • Steve

      Well put, Turtle

  • vietnamvet

    As a Vet i fully support the occupy movement and it is so disheartening to see so many cold hearted, self loving, ego tripping people posting here about this story. Some of you should be ashamed of yourselves. Your mothers taught you nothing on how to treat other people. You are no better than any of those folks down there marching, so get off your high horse. To think i could have died so some of you idiots could be born just boils my blood. Both sides of the aisle are idiots if you ask me, so look in the mirror.

  • crybabies

    wow lots of right winger cry babies that post on CBS i guess! yikes! the usual total lack of understanding of history (besides what theyve made up in their minds based on their opinion and what their friend told them in an email). next somebody will be on here saying the nazis were a leftist organisaion (ask a german what side of the isle the nazis were, morons). oh well, enjoy your love fest on here guys… cause you wont be winning an election anytime soon.
    i mean, look at you idiots… talking like socialism isis a form of government. idiots. read a f’in book by someone other than a talk show host.

  • Mike Norman

    The owner should complain to NYPD. THere is absolutely NO REASON that Wall Street has been barracaded as it has. OWS is taking place in Zuccotti Park, blocks away. I work at 14 Wall Street and I am similarly upset at the barracades erected by the police. They are a hazard. There is no reason for it whatsoever especially due to the fact that there is no car traffic allowed on Wall Street even in “normal” times. Blame the idiot police, not OWS. The protesters are nowhere near this area.

  • osx

    For all you OWS haters why aren’t you out there protesting the OWS movement? There are no barricades stopping you. You’re all pathetic.

    Millions of people lost their jobs because of fraud committed by people in power, yet you chose to ignore that reality. Ignorance is what is destroying this country. Not the OWS movement exercising its right to assemble and protest under the 1st amendment to the constitution.

  • Ray

    USA, always beleive have democracy, the headen hands of DICTATORS wich control, the economy, propaganda machines and mind of American people was invisible untouched, undetected. Now the world has changed. NO More….POWER, from Dictotors it has to be from the peolple and by the people. Its frightening…, the only way out is for the dictators have to face the reallity…..before its too late like….. Gaddafi…
    God bless the world.

  • Meme Meyagi

    what is done about 7 million mooslime terrorists living in usa?

  • Rick

    Have 5 employees who called in sick but were seen at this boondoggle freak show. They lost their jobs. Of course they haven’t “called in” since that first day so maybe they already know the axe has swung.

  • Bob J

    What the fu&% does all this rambling about democracy and a republic have to do with the title of this article? Find a blog then you can rant and rave about democracy and republic.

  • cgent47

    Local” supporters:

    Communist Party USA

    The American Nazi Party

    Revolutionary Communist Party

    Black Panthers

    Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan


    Some big names in the political world have also lent support to the cause:

    President Barack Obama

    Vice President Joe Biden

    Nancy Pelosi

    International Leaders and Governments:

    Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei

    Hugo Chavez

    Revolutionary Guards of Iran

    The Govt of North Korea

    Communist Party of China


  • Lezlie Sherrin

    I was working for an airlines when the Air Traffic Controllers went on strike…I was very angry with them for messing up my MONEY…but then one day I stopped my car and talked to them…they explained the situation…it was not the money they were angry about, it was the many, many hours they were working and putting peoples lives in danger because of it…and then Reagan fired them all…our people, our UNIONS, could not strike against OUR government he said…but at the same time we were supporting Poland in their strike (union) against THEIR government…I learned then that our government doesn’t give a darn about OUR people…they are just out for the almighty buck…OCCUPY and stand up for YOUR RIGHTS!!!! We are in this altogether…

  • Van Wehrle

    The so called protesters dont care who loses their jobs. It’s all about them getting their party on evidently. Rape, pillaging, feet sniffing , molesting, stealing, what a great crowd.

  • Victor

    Or maybe it’s because he’s charging restaurant prices for take out food.

    He’s blurring the conceptual models of deli and gourmet together, and it ends up looking too expensive for a deli and not enough service for gourmet.

  • Galut1

    these are the kind of thing the voters in 2012 will base thier votes on….they will look at the wall street movement and see the trail of problems it left for others to clean up… many of these that were laid off will be among those voters….and Obama and other democratic leaders have endorse this movement….thus will recieve the benifit of the negitive votes….

  • Calypso

    Can’t wait till these Occupiers are history. I expect that they will go the way of disco and leisure suits.

  • Menachem Wecker

    You misspelled his name. It’s Marc, not Mark.

  • TheRealKingMax

    The ‘bama man

    (Sung to the tune of “The Candy Man”)

    Who can take nothing,
    Spin it full of lies
    Cover it in bullcrap
    And CNN falls in love
    The ‘bama man
    The ‘bama man
    The ‘bama man can
    The ‘bama man can
    The ‘bama man can,
    ‘cause he hides who he is
    And says HIS ‘CHANGE’ is for the good

    Who hangs with a psycho Reverend,
    Who hates white America
    Associates with radicals
    That bombed our Capitol
    The ‘bama man
    The ‘bama man
    The ‘bama man can
    The ‘bama man can
    The ’bama man can,
    ‘cause he spins and lies and hides
    And he does it oh so good…

    The ‘bama man will tax
    Everything you make
    And spend it on
    Whatever he wishes
    On socialist, Buy-A-Vote issues
    You wanted ‘CHANGE’,
    So PAY UP, biatches!!!

    Who can take America,
    And truly send it down the tubes
    Sold his lies to hollowheaded Democrat rubes
    The ‘bama man
    The ‘bama man
    The ‘bama man can
    The ‘bama man can
    The ‘bama man can,
    ’cause he’s just a communist
    And makes his lies sound good

    And the country will be ‘good’
    Because the ‘bama man will change it
    As HE thinks it should

    God help us all.

  • joeyinnyc

    This is mess of a group of educated think tank fools! Obvious not in NYC. The Mayor lets them stay for they are an economic boom for the area. You cannot find a hotel room in the area, broadcasters from around the world have moved in for coverage, union people are employed in many industries for this event, thousands of bused in touists come down and spend money while downtown checking out the site, etc etc. None of you live in NYC. Us NYers laugh all the way to the bank. So many of you fools acorss America trying to make some silly point of grammar. Your a thorn to your neighbors, a pest to your boss and fellow employees, cranky and maybe Jewish, and we welcome you to the new America.

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