Kate Hicks

Hey Occupy Wall Street, is this what you wanted?

A cafe located in the thick of Occupy Wall Street territory has just laid off a quarter of its staff, and may have to close its doors for good, thanks to the intrusive protests.

 

Twenty-one restaurant workers lost their jobs last week because of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the cafe owner said Tuesday.

Marc Epstein, owner of the Milk Street Cafe at 40 Wall St., said he had no choice but to let nearly a quarter of his staff go last Friday after he saw his sales drop by 30 percent in the six weeks since the protests started.

"What are [the protesters] trying to accomplish here?" Epstein asked Monday.  

"The end result is that I and all the wonderful people who work for me are collateral damage."

Business has been so bad since the start of the "occupation" that Epstein fears he may have to close his doors for good.

 

In addition to laying off 21 of his 97 workers last week, he also cut back the restaurant's operating hours and now closes at 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, rather than 9 p.m.

"If we don't get these barricades down, we will be out of business," Epstein said Monday.

"I give myself three weeks."

Epstein said he is frustrated that he cannot get anyone at the city to return his calls, and he said he would never open another business in New York if this one fails.

The movement has had almost no effect on its target--banks and corporations too closely linked to the political system--but has clearly begun to damage small businesses--the "99%" these protesters ostensibly represent. One wonders if Barack Obama, self-proclaimed champion of small businesses, would like to rescind his support of OWS.

Milk Street Cafe opened to some fanfare in June, drawing a number of customers who were excited at the prospect of a new dining option on Wall Street--and excited about the new jobs it brought to the area.

 

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith helped ring the restaurant's opening bell earlier in the day and said he was glad to see the 120 new jobs the eatery brought to the neighborhood.

"I've heard of spending your way out of a recession, but not eating your way out of one," Goldsmith joked. "This is a great investment in lower Manhattan."

It's sad to see an entreprenurial effort, and one so young at that, die at the hands of the people claiming to protect it. While the "occupiers"  march through the streets shouting, "Hey hey! Ho ho! Wall Street greed has got to go," they're passing shopfront after shopfront confronting cuts and closures as a result of the daily parades of the absurd.

I don't know if you've done much to eradicate "Wall Street greed," OWS, but you sure have killed the small business climate.


Kate Hicks

Kate Hicks is one of Townhall.com's web editors. You can follow her on Twitter @KateBHicks.