Scary Tales Of The George Floyd Freakout: The Mission On The Bay Fiasco

The “mission” appears to be to enforce conformity of thought.

In my native state of Massachusetts, in the coastal town of Swampscott, home of Boston Red Sox tragic hero, the late Tony Conigliaro, comes a story where every element represents an ethics breach. The victim is being made the villain, the villain the hero. As I tell the tale, the faint refrain of “The World Turned Upside-Down,” the song the band played when General Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington, should  echo in the background.

What is it about restaurants that generate so many ethics messes? This one occurred at Mission on the Bay, an upscale waterside eatery that serves food with a Brazilian and Asian influence. Selectman Donald Hause was dining with a friend in the outdoor dining area, and bartender Erik Heilman was eavesdropping, what people are doing when they say later, “I couldn’t help but overhear.” Heilman heard Hause criticize Black Lives Matter, allegedly saying that the group was “liberal bullshit,” and making the case that white privilege was a myth.

What the Selectman said, short of planning a crime, was none of Heilman’s business; nonetheless, the bartender says he was “distraught” at the comments, and so he posted what he heard or thought he heard to a local website,  because he wanted to “inform” the community about the thoughts of an elected official.  Hause disputes his account, but it doesn’t matter, and I don’t care what he said.  Heilman’s conduct was unethical no matter what was said, or whether his post was accurate or not. Customers at a restaurant should, indeed must, be able to depend on the discretion and confidentiality of the staff. The bartender’s actions were a betrayal of his duties to the restaurant and its patrons.

We know Heilman’s rationalization for doing what he did springs from the totalitarian strain in what Commentary Magazine has called “the great unraveling.” Dissent from the Black Lives Matter and its supporters’ anti-American narrative will not be tolerated, and those resisting the mob, the movement’s mission dictates, must be exposed and destroyed.

Heilman was fired, as he should have been. Mission on the Bay co-owner Wellington Augusto explained the decision on Facebook:

Hospitality is about welcoming people and giving them space to feel comfortable. There has always been an unspoken code in the hospitality industry, that customers’ personal conversations and information are kept private. In the age of social media, that code is no longer unspoken but an agreed upon understanding outlined in the employee handbook of Mission On The Bay. “Employees may not post any information online about our group, our employees or clients without the prior approval of their manager.”

All guests entering are entitled to a certain level of privacy from our staff. While we are a “public” space by definition; our employees are expected to respect such privacy. At the end of the day we cannot allow our staff, while actively working in our establishment, to post information about our guests online without permission. This is true for everyone – be they public figures or otherwise.

That is where the story should have ended. Despicably, however, the mob got to the owners, and they was intimidated into groveling after various patrons said they would boycott the restaurant. “Out of frustration caused by the post by my employee, Erik Heilman, I took action too quickly and let go of him rather than engage in conversation and speak with him about his concerns,” Augusto wrote. “This was a mistake; as we can not hope to learn from one another by acting out of anger or in haste.” He even offered Heilman his job back.

Firing the bartender was not a mistake; it  was the only responsible act possible, and backtracking in the face of ill-reasoned criticism was craven and destructive. The story gets worse still: Augusto also announced that—are you ready?—Don Hause would be banned from the restaurant.

Here is the entire, revolting Facebook post:

It’s an indefensible post and position:

  • So now what should be is that diners must be on notice that their private conversations are considered fair game for restaurant employees to listen to and publicize to the community. That is the “new way” that the owner is promoting. Anyone who voluntarily dines at a restaurant with that philosophy is a fool, and aiding and abetting the death of free speech and privacy.
  • The lack of basic logic in the post demonstrates that it is the product of duress. The owner’s argument makes no sense, but he is asserting it anyway as if it does, out of fear and submissiveness.
  • Firing the bartender was mandated by basic professional standards, fairness to the public, and decency. Heilman was wrong: the owner had nothing to “learn” from him.
  • The bartender was not “right” by any stretch of the imagination. He is free to start any dialogue he chooses, but he is not free to abuse guests of the restaurant or defy the duties of his job to do it.
  • “Starting a dialogue” is a euphemism and a cover-phrase: anything can start a dialogue. Farting in the Selectman’s face would start a dialogue. That doesn’t make it acceptable conduct.
  • Heilman is fighting to hold officials responsible for their words “at all times”? That’s an endorsement of thought and speech police. The concept should be terrifying: basic Golden Rule principles mark the idea as abhorrent, yet Augusto is endorsing it.
  • Banning Hause is no less than imposing a political viewpoint requirement on patrons of his establishment, a practice Ethics Alarms has condemned many times as a threat to the pluralistic society the United States of America is supposed to be.

Now there is a movement in Swampscott to recall Hause. There should be a movement to declare Mission on the Bay a threat to democracy, liberty, and civil society.


Sources: ItemLive, Matt Margolis


17 thoughts on “Scary Tales Of The George Floyd Freakout: The Mission On The Bay Fiasco

  1. In Nazi Germany, the Gestapo marveled at how neighbors and co-workers were willing to turn in people they knew for criticizing the government. This actually was a source of irritation for them because, many times, they found out that the persons reported to them were just joking, venting frustration or were set up by neighbors or co-workers who were holding a grudge. More often than not, these citizens were questioned and released with no further action taken.

    That’s right. Even the Gestapo understood that people needed to be able to joke or cool off in a biergarten after a tough day at work. When employees become self-appointed spies for the thought police here in America, what does that say about their ethics, their education and their understanding of American values?

    For people who loathe fascists, the Progressive Left certainly emulates them very well.

    • That’s because they’re Commies and Commies want, no command, the populous to spy on each other. It goes on in Cuba to this day.

  2. So based on this I can go to any place and tell any story I want to destroy anyone I want without fear of being held accountable.

    If that’s the case I heard Hillary Clinton say BLM is nothing but a means to oust Trump and after Biden wins the Democrats will put them back in their place where they belong until they are needed again.

  3. The good news is, this place is being absolutely PUMMELED right now on Yelp and their own Facebook page.

    There are almost certainly some good people on the staff there – people who care about their customers and who don’t deserve to lose their jobs simply because the owner is a spineless weasel. I feel sorry for them; those who work in the restaurant business have already had a brutal three months.

    But it would not break my heart to see the owner of this joint lose his shirt. He deserves no less.

    • He’s a total fool. It would be sad for him to lose his business because he has weak ethics alarms and a tendency to cave to pressure to do the wrong thing, but a lot of people have to suffer to send the message that having guts is no more perilous than groveling to the mob.

      • Well, this guy sounds just like the president of my college who sent out an email saying he was apologizing for not saying (in his words, “unequivocally stating”) Black Lives Matter in the previous two groveling emails he’d sent out. He should be fired.

    • Yeah, I’m not a big fan of attributing much significance to “ratioing”, as the results are often highly dependent on the leanings of a site’s or tweeter’s following & such. However, my guess is the restaurant’s Facebook page was pretty neutral ground before this, and they are being hammered now.

  4. Has anyone checked to see if this restaurant is culturally appropriating Brazilian and Asian cuisine? Does it have mostly minority staff and management? If the owner is white, male and heterosexual, shouldn’t he step down and immediately replace his position with a disabled homeless black trans woman?

    Perhaps the restaurant should rename itself Snitching for Radical Progressivism On The Bay, since that appears to be its new mission.

    • Good catch, Mrs. Q (if you’ll pardon the pun). The place looks like your standard issue upscale, waterfront, New England seafood joint. They should stick to chowdah and “the famous Boston Scrod.”

    • A suggestion on the restaurant’s facebook page for a warning disclaimer on the door:
      “As a guest here you have the right to remain silent. If you choose to not remain silent anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion.”

      • Based on faulty hearing and imprecise memory hearsay. I’m sure the ratty tattletale has never been misquoted or taken out of context in their lives. For that kind of crime against their neighbors’ trust, I’m starting to lean toward eye for an eye. Everyone lives in a glass house now and lots of stones are flying…

  5. Jack, your header asks why so many ethics problems arise in restaurants. Having spent some time in the field, I offer the following in answer.

    – High end restaurants tend not to have this type of issue. They usually hire highly competent kitchen and front-of-house staff, and management is usually diligent in training and supervision. The ethical problems are more common in mid-level houses and chains.

    – In such houses, staffing is a never-ending challenge, for the simple reason that restaurant work is essentially one of the few fields that actually rewards vagrancy. Servers and kitchen personnel might work a given house for a year or two and move on to something else – either a gig where they think they can make more money, or a different place altogether. Serving and cooking skills are easily transferable; if you leave one location for whatever reason (family, problems with the law, just a desire to see another part of the country, you name it) – it’s pretty easy to find another gig doing exactly the same thing. In mid-level houses, actual loyalty to the organization tends to be the exception, rather than the rule.

    – Senior-level positions – chef or sous chef (or kitchen manager) and the front-of-house manager generally require a fair amount of training and experience. These tend to be genuinely skilled positions. But servers and line cooks… candidly, these are mostly semi-skilled positions. The work is fairly physically demanding but really isn’t particularly mentally taxing most of the time. And with regard to service personnel: very few people in the United States actually work as restaurant servers because that’s their chosen field. Yes, you find true professionals in the high-end places. But for pretty much everyone else, it’s a way to pay the bills while waiting for your screenplay to be picked up, or finishing school, or whatever. And in fairness, there are servers who really don’t have other options available to them based upon their skills and where they live. But for many, the number of hours required to make a decent amount of money are comparatively short.

    Now, here’s where things get more interesting. It’s pretty easy to steal and cheat. Less so in the front of the house, because most transactions these days are via credit card, but there’s still enough cash in play that it can be easily skimmed. That can happen right up to ownership, by the way. In the kitchen, it’s surprisingly easy to steal food, or for a kitchen manager who’s worried about his cost of goods to order a cheaper product than what’s claimed on the menu and charge a premium for it. Very few customers will ever know that the “prime” beef they ordered might actually be a fairly low grade of “choice.”

    Active stealing from the walk ins is getting tougher due to improving inventory control software systems – and the fact that many places use computerized systems to relay orders between the front and back of the house also tightens up controls on what actually gets ordered and served (along with helping to track the money). But even so, there remain plenty of ways to cheat. Bartenders may pour free drinks without charging favored customers (or that pretty waitress they’re hoping to bed. The owner of the best house I ever worked in once told me “if you ever buy your own restaurant, hire a born-again Christian as your bar manager.”).

    So adding all of these things up, the restaurant world is one that makes it EASY for unethical people to be unethical, to the point of effectively rewarding them for being so.

  6. SO . . . let me get this straight:

    The Left no longer supports the Right to Privacy™ anymore . . . ?

    You know, that thing found in the penumbra of the Constitution that was at the core of making abortion legal for all Americans . . . THAT Right to Privacy™ . . . ?

    So the Left is anti-Roe-vs-Wade and anti-abortion now. Good to know.


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