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Restaurant Soap Operas: Popolos

My inbox is filling with messages from former employees of Popolos, the popular restaurant owned by Steve Hammond that closed on January 30. Of course, they are screaming one side of the story—they got screwed out of a job.

However, there is one common thread to their tales—apparently a long-time customer was in the house on closing night and he/she asked the manager what kind of severance package Hammond was handing out to the employees. From what I can piece together, the customer went nuts when he/she found out there was no severance package in the works. So,  he/she handed the manager his/her credit card (Black American Express) and told her to charge $10,000 on the card and distribute the money to the staff. Several former staffers report that owner Hammond wasn’t too happy about that and a argument broke out in the dining room and the police were called.

Meanwhile, Hammond has opened reworked his Park Cities Prime into Preston’s, a chef driven (Jon Schwarzenberger) restaurant centered around local and organic ingredients with a Texas twist.

20 comments on “Restaurant Soap Operas: Popolos

  1. That sounds sooo urbanmythy. Hello, 911. I’d like to report a customer trying to leave a big tip at Popolos

  2. Not an urban myth. I was there the next night (the last night they were open) and the place was packed with regular patrons who showed up mainly to support the staff after witnessing the altercation the previous evening. And, among the witnesses were several friends of mine who were totally aghast at what transpired in front of them. In fact, I saw the owner sneak in incognito in a hoodie later on that last night to check on things.

  3. I was there closing night almost to the very end, and have dozens of pictures of friends and neighbors. I even have some video footage. I did not see any of the police action mentioned, perhaps that happened after closing.

  4. However, there is one common thread to their tales—apparently a long-time customer was in the house on CLOSING night

    So I guess there is one common thread, all the former employees telling the story have the night wrong.

  5. The words aren’t hateful, they are true. When have you ever heard of servers getting severence packages? Please.

  6. I love waiters, did it for several years unfortunately without anyone whipping out the 10k tip. I just thought the story sounded dubious, thats all.

  7. The actual night is irrelevant. What is however is the common denominator otherwise known as S. Hammond. He has a long standing history of inflicting emotional duress onto the people who work for him. Adding insult to injury by refusing the patron their right to tip whatever amount they see fit. S. Hammond is notorious for digging his heels in right or wrong because of his deep pockets. Why would he care if someone else was willing to step in and do what he didn’t and to offer a show of gratitude to the people who worked their tails off to fill his deep pockets? The answer is how dare anyone question him, he’s God don’t you know?

  8. At the end of the day it’s sad the owner of the establishment chose to go out in a blaze of self-righteous glory. A happier ending would have been for him to match the tipster dollar for dollar. That would be too much like right though!

  9. I have to say if the writer’s mailbox is getting full then from all appearances the proprietor has a following and it isn’t a good one. It makes me wonder why he is complacent with the perception of how the public, customers and his employees view him. Perception is reality.

  10. If you don’t know him then you don’t know him. If you do know him then enough said and you know what I mean.

  11. I was curious how ridiculous this thread would get and how far people would go to spread hateful, idle gossip. I’ve gotten my answer. I generally don’t like to address
    false assumptions and conjectures but I’ll make an exception. True, there was no severence offerred to waiters, but it was because virtually everyone was offerred continued employment or job placement at other venues. Managers were either offerred continued employment or severence pay. The only staff member that was not offered this was the assistant manager, (NOT Joe Czaus) because she was fired for a multitude of reasons.
    It was unfortunate that the Landlord did not wish to renew our lease but that was their choice, not mine. The last night we were there all of the staff were invited to stay as long as they wanted (after closing) and comiserate the final night. There was laughing, hugging and eventually crying. It was a sad night.
    I suspect that some of these false rumors are being promoted by the manager who was fired or her personal friends.
    The alleged $10,000 tip was not charged to the customer because a dispute arose amongst the staff as to the customer’s intent on how it should be split. One waiter claimed he should recieve ALL of it. We contacted the customer and encouraged him to work out his “tip” directly with the employees if that was his TRUE intent. We didn’t even charge him for his $170
    dinner.
    I operated Popolos for ten years and it became a favorite neighborhood venue for great food, atmosphere and live music. I’m happy and honored that I was able to provide the kind of place that people hated to see
    go. I hate it too.
    We’re looking for a new location to reopen if anyone has any ideas

  12. Oh Steve! You are a TERRIBLE owner/CEO/president/manager…and whatever other title you would consider yourself to have. You treat your employees like slaves. Should waiters get a severance package? Absolutely not. Should you treat your employees with respect? Absolutely. In all ventures you have your foot in, you do not know how to treat people. Spin this particular story however you may but the truth is, you sir, are a terrible person.

  13. So if i understand this correctly…. It was not the owners fault that the lease wasnt renewed, it was the fault of the landlord. It also wasnt the owners fault that the faithful employees are now unemployed, its their fault for not accepting other employment offers. And lastly its not the owners fault that the customers very generous offer wasnt accepted, it was the customers and employees fault for not working out the details.

    Am i the only one here who notices a commom denominator??

  14. Having spoken to a person who was there the night of the incident there is a completely different version.

    Truth be known all hell broke lose when the owner decided that the 10k tip was his because it came through his restaurant. An argument ensued between he and the assistant manager (referred to in his post) when she attempted to fulfill the customer’s request to gift the 10k to the restaurant employees.

    A number of visitors and customers was observed confronting the owner about the 10k. It came to a head with the police being called on his assistant manager when she would not initially turn over the receipt to him.

    The most credible source is typically the outsider with no skin in the game.