DC restaurant workers claim attempt to unionize caused popular eatery to close

A popular Vietnamese restaurant in Southeast D.C. abruptly shut its doors Monday, and its former staff claims the closure is due to its attempt to unionize over wages and working conditions.

In a statement to partners at 7News, IHG Hotels & Resorts, the owners of The Wharf’s InterContinental Hotel, announced that it will be parting ways with Moon Rabbit chef Kevin Tien and options are “being explored for a new concept” to replace the restaurant.

The closure comes more than a month after the restaurant made Food and Wine’s “10 Best Restaurants in the U.S.”

Unite Here Local 25, a hospitality union, said in a statement posted on Twitter the decision to close Moon Rabbit comes weeks after a majority of the restaurant’s employees petitioned for union elections this month.

“This move by the hotel is cynical and disgusting,” wrote Paul Schwalb, the executive secretary and treasurer of Unite Here Local 25. 

“Closing Moon Rabbit on the eve of a union election shows a gross disregard for the people who helped turn moon rabbit into a national sensation. Nobody should do business with a hotel that treats workers as disposable.”

“I woke up today without a job, I feel horrible,” PeterGay Abrahams, a server told partners at 7News “I didn’t even go back home yet because I am embarrassed to even go home to my kids.”

“We didn’t just get up one day and say ‘Hey we want to form a union’ we feel like we aren’t being treated fairly,” Abrahams said.

Unite Here Local 25 said its members will be protesting outside the InterContinental Hotel at The Wharf Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

WTOP has reached out for comment from IHG Hotels and Resorts about the closure.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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