McFeely blog: Three Lyons Pub employees quit to protest re-open

Three Lyons.jpg
The Three Lyons Pub in West Fargo. Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

A social media post by a former Three Lyons Pub employee said the restaurant's staff quit en masse Friday morning over fears about reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Twitter account under the name "Cracker McJackson" posted:

"Ok, now I can talk about it. The entire Three Lyons Pub staff quit today. Myself included. Don't support the ignorant, money hungry owners. We kept their business running during the shut down and they basically laughed at us when we (stated) our fears about reopening to the public."

It's believed about six employees quit.


Three Lyons Pub is an English-themed bar and restaurant in West Fargo. It had offered takeout since North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ordered bars and restaurants closed to on-site customers March 19.

Reached via direct message, the person who made the post declined to give their real name or give any more information about the walkout.

Three Lyons co-owner Blair Thoreson wouldn't confirm his staff quit.

"I can tell you we're going to wait a few extra days to start our smart restart. We will open soon," Thoreson said.

Asked about the Twitter post that indicated some of his employees had fears about re-opening at this point, Thoreson said, "That would be something he would have to explain further. I know that when we open next week we plan to have a staff of employees and we will open in a manner that ensures the safety for our employees and our customers."

Burgum this week said he would let expire his executive order shuttering certain types of businesses , including bars and restaurants, as a way of slowing the spread of the coronavirus. His office issued guidelines, under the umbrella "ND Smart Restart," that businesses are either required or encouraged to adhere to.

For bars and restaurants, those guidelines include limiting capacity to 50% of normal operating capacity, allowing for six feet of spacing between groups, limiting seating to 10 people per table and many more.


Thoreson said Three Lyons would adhere to the governor's guidelines. The ex-employee who posted on Twitter didn't offer details about what made employees uncomfortable.

"A threat to your health is not worth a paycheck. Stay strong everyone. We are living in very weird times," the poster wrote in a later tweet.

One of the concerns restaurant and bar employees had when Burgum allowed the re-opening of businesses was that workers who refused to report for their jobs over safety would then be ineligible to collect unemployment benefits. It was an issue raised by employers during a North Dakota Chamber of Commerce business briefing Thursday.


The director of North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance, Bryan Klipfel, told business owners they could report their employees for not returning to work so they could not collect unemployment insurance.
"If you have an issue with employees not responding to your call back or not wanting to come back, you need to contact Job Service North Dakota," Klipfel said. "We set up a special number … and this number is only for those employers who have tried to get their employees back to work, but because of some reason they don't want to come back, so we need to know that so if those employees are collecting unemployment insurance benefit we can look at moving them off of that."

The Twitter poster, however, has a new job lined up, as does most of the staff who quit.

"The kitchen staff pretty much has all new jobs. Lyons was just a side gig for the servers. Believe me, we put more thought into this than just simply saying '(expletive) you'. The staff were all friends so we looked out for each other," the poster wrote.


A Facebook post on the Three Lyons Pub page.

A Facebook post on the Three Lyons Pub page.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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