The actions of the EFF who invaded The Smokehouse and Grill restaurant in Johannesburg further compounded bad trading conditions, the restaurant said. Picture: Social media

Johannesburg - The actions of the Economic Freedom Fighters who invaded The Smokehouse and Grill restaurant in Braamfontein, Johannesburg on September 6 further compounded bad trading conditions and the restaurant has been forced to close its doors – resulting in the loss of 29 jobs.

The restaurant revealed this on Sunday.

The jobs of the 29 staff members employed at The Smokehouse and Grill had been lost and the livelihoods of the families they supported were at risk following the reaction to the racism scandal involving Adam Catzavelos, even though he had no operational involvement in the restaurant, the restaurant owner and director said in a statement.

The facts were:
- On 6 September, the EFF targeted the restaurant because Adam Catzavelos previously had a minority stake in the business;
- The EFF threatened The Smokehouse and Grill staff members, even surrounding one manager holding steak knives they had picked up from the restaurant tables;
- Adam Catzavelos was fired from the family business, with immediate effect, on August 21, "the day his comments came to our and the public’s attention", and more than two weeks before the EFF decided to mobilise against the restaurant;
- On August 22, the company publicly disassociated itself from his utterances via a media statement, informing the market he had been dismissed and that his shareholding in the family business and The Smokehouse and Grill was being unwound; and
- The Smokehouse and Grill acted swiftly and decisively in managing the issue of the racism scandal and, to reiterate, it did so more than two weeks before the EFF decided to disrupt trading at the restaurant.

"Trading at the restaurant since the racism scandal has, understandably, been slow and, as a result, the restaurant began operating at an unsustainable loss. The threats to our staff and the disruption to customers from the EFF compounded the reputational damage at the operation, which has resulted in its closure.

"As such, 29 people have lost their jobs, as well as the option to participate in an employee share ownership trust we had been investigating for the 25 percent stake formerly held by Adam Catzavelos. Our loyal staff and the people they support will suffer the most, as a result, this turn of events," the statement said.

This development took place in a recessionary environment, with an unemployment rate above 25 percent, and in a country where there were more adults not at work than adults at work.

"It beggars belief that businesses can be thus threatened, seemingly without a thought to the people who will be most affected and the families they support. In closing, we reiterate our position regarding racism and discrimination. The Smokehouse and Grill rejects racism and discrimination in all its forms. It is important there is no doubt about what we stand for and what we stand against," the statement said.

African News Agency (ANA)