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Two critics of Victoria’s plaster Aspen with flyers promoting boycott

David Monk and Rachel Cooper put up flyers Saturday on an information board in Aspen. They are urging customers to boycott Victoria's Espresso and Wine Bar.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |

A protest at Victoria’s Espresso and Wine Bar in Aspen didn’t pan out as planned Saturday, but two critics of the restaurant’s employment practices posted 100 fliers around town urging a customer boycott.

David Monk and Rachel Cooper posted fliers that said, “Please Join Us in Boycotting the Illegal Business Practices of Victoria Haveman!” on public bulletin boards and where businesses would allow. The flyer urges people to check out a Facebook page to educate themselves about the issues. It also quoted portions of recent stories in The Aspen Times and Aspen Daily News.

“I’m doing this for the people that are working there now,” said Cooper, a former employee at the restaurant. They are generally people that cannot speak out for themselves, she said. Many came to the U.S. from foreign countries on work visas obtained by Victoria’s. If they object to their working conditions, they could be forced out of the U.S., she said.

Cooper worked at Victoria’s for about five weeks in October and November. The owners, Victoria Haveman and John Beatty, were out of town for the first two weeks and Cooper liked working there, she said. Conditions initially remained fine when the owners returned, but Cooper said she soon noticed Haveman allegedly berated workers for minor mistakes and allegedly didn’t give them their rightful share of tips.

Cooper said she experienced some minor issues with the owners, but nothing she couldn’t handle.

“I stand up for myself,” she said. “I don’t let people treat me like that.”

But the treatment of other employees turned her off to the point where she turned in her two weeks’ notice. She said she had to contact the Colorado Department of Labor to intervene when she didn’t receive her final two weeks’ pay. She also contends Victoria’s withheld state and federal taxes, but didn’t pay them. They also didn’t provide her with tax information at the end of 2015.

Haveman and Beatty couldn’t be reached for comment at their establishment Saturday afternoon shortly before 2 p.m. The Aspen Times couldn’t reach them through a phone call to the restaurant later in the afternoon or an email. Beatty sent an email to the newspaper earlier in the month saying, “We decline to comment further on scurrilous and unfounded allegations that have been made.”

Monk got involved in protesting Victoria’s practices because of the experiences of his wife, April Rose Sorolla, while she was employed there. Sorolla said she didn’t feel she received her rightful share of tips. She also witnessed Haveman’s alleged poor treatment of other young women on visas for foreign workers.

Monk said his wife had trouble securing her final paycheck after she quit. Haveman turned her back on them while Beatty pushed them out the door, he claimed.

Monk said he’s traveled around the world and appreciates people of other cultures. He doesn’t believe its fair for an Aspen business to allegedly take advantage of them.

Monk started a Facebook page, Boycott Victoria’s Coffee, which has attracted 349 likes. He tried to harness the support into a boycott at noon Saturday. He even talked to Aspen police to find out what was allowed and how to avoid trespassing. However, the likes didn’t translate into support, Monk said.

He and Cooper said they weren’t demoralized. There’s a lot going on during Saturday afternoons in Aspen and people can’t always get away, Monk said. They both claimed that the restaurant owners have threatened critics with defamation lawsuits, so that’s been a chilling factor for some people.

They said they intend to keep the pressure up to try to force better treatment of employees.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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