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Ristretto Faces Backlash After Owner’s Wife Starts Questioning #MeToo Allegations

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The coffee company is the subject of an open letter of protest, signed by 30 current and former Ristretto employees

Ristretto Roasters/Facebook
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Employees of Ristretto Roasters have signed a letter in protest of the Portland coffee chain’s ownership, now that owner Din Johnson’s wife, writer Nancy Rommelmann, has started openly challenging and questioning prominent #MeToo figureheads, the Oregonian first reported. The letter serves to expose and condemn the views of Rommelmann, as well as to let the public know that a wide swath of employees do not condone the same ideology.

Late last year, Rommelmann started a Youtube channel called “#MeNeither,” which promised conversations with Penthouse columnist Leah McSweeney about the “cultural issues of the day,” according to its bio. In the channel’s first three episodes, with titles like “Toxic Femininity, Asia Argento edition” and “Victim Elixir: It’s Powerful Stuff!” the two discuss people like Argento, who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, and bemoan the outrage directed at people like Louis C.K., who has been accused of multiple cases of sexual misconduct. “What we were supposedly outraged about... was that he was wanking off in front of women who didn’t want him to do that that. We have to presume he’s stopped,” she says of the comic in one episode. “Why are we still outraged?”

In an open letter sent to several media outlets today, 30 current and former employees of Ristretto openly denounced the channel and Rommelmann, who they see as a direct member of Ristretto management. “We believe it is a business owner’s responsibility to create a safe and supportive working environment for their employees,” the letter reads. “Invalidating assault survivors throws into question the safety of Ristretto Roasters as a workplace and has the potential to create a demoralizing and hostile environment for employees and customers alike. This cannot be tolerated.”

Both Rommelmann and Johnson have denied that the writer and now vlogger has any relationship with Ristretto or how it’s run; still, her name appears on business license records as a manager, and former employee Camila Coddou told Willamette Week that Rommelmann was “huge part of daily operations” at Ristretto. Johnson told the Oregonian that those filings are “outdated.”

“Nancy is neither an owner nor employee of Ristretto,” Johnson said in a written statement to both papers. “Unless it’s directly work-related; Ristretto remains politically neutral...Trying to involve us in a fight we are not in is unfair to our employees, and to the business.”

Ristretto Roasters [Official]
Ristretto Roasters [Facebook]
Nancy Rommelmann [Official]
#MeNeither [YouTube]
#MeNeither YouTube videos create backlash for Portland coffee company [The O]
Portland Author and Wife of Ristretto Roasters Owner Sparks Controversy With YouTube Videos Discrediting Prominent Sexual Assault Survivors [Willamette Week]
All previous Ristretto coverage [EPDX]