‘Gorilla’ war ends as new staff reopens Fifth Avenue coffee shop

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Park Slopers can once again get their caffeine fix at Gorilla Coffee, which reopened on Monday after a stunning walkout by the entire staff two weeks ago forced the Fifth Avenue java joint to suddenly shut down.

Lines weren’t out the door as usual this morning, but the coffee was just as strong.

“People in the neighborhood are still finding out that we are open,” said Carol McLaughlin, one of the owners of the café. But that was about all McLaughlin had to say regarding her just-reopened business, which became mired in controversy two weeks ago.

“I really don’t want to talk about this,” McLaughlin said. “We’re trying to move forward.”

But there is no doubt McLaughlin and her co-owner, Darleen Scherer, were left scrambling after the abrupt walk-out of all of their workers on April 11. Scherer had said that she was completely taken by surprise by the employee exodus, which occurred after tensions boiled over between the staff and ownership.

The two-week delay in reopening can likely be attributed to the high-end coffee culture in Park Slope, which requires a level of skill and knowledge that goes beyond one lump or two. These days, a barista’s duties aren’t just pulling a few levers and steaming some cappuccinos — training is required.

The manager on duty at the café, which is at Park Place, confirmed this, saying she and the other new employees had just been through “a very rigorous training process.”

But the manager, Caitlin Geoghan, knew what she was getting into

“I knew Gorilla by reputation,” she said.

There is little doubt that Gorilla’s reputation has taken a hit, however. The open letter penned by the former staff — and hanged, Martin Luther-style, on the front door — described a “perpetually malicious, hostile, and demeaning work environment” that was “unhealthy” and “unworkable.”

At the center of this maelstrom was McLaughlin, who was characterized as an authoritarian drill sergeant/barista, who demanded the utmost care from her legion of caffeine artists.

What remains to be seen is if lefty Park Slope residents will shun the café now that all its dirty laundry has been aired in public. Previous labor unrest in the neighborhood, such as the stunning revelations regarding underpaid deliverymen, resulted in no discernable change in behavior.

Updated 5:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

angry lesbos from park slope says:
i stopped going because it is burnt coffee with a long line. there are far too many other places that do better and nicer.

this woman co owner, i have seen her in action and she pretty much fits the bill to a tee of the stereotypical insanely angry at the patriarchy park slope softball playing/subaru driving lesbian. some stereotypes are true.

my guess is the staff seemed to enjoy life, so she had to crush it out of them.
April 26, 2010, 9:15 pm
richie rich from parkslope says:
the coffee nazi? no coffee for you, come back 1 year!
April 27, 2010, 3:19 pm
Gorilla from Park Slope says:
Carol McLaughlin should go to crisis management class....
April 29, 2010, 8:53 am
disgusted from park slope says:
It is unbelievable that the place is still open. there is no way the coffee is worth what the reputation is. This owner, McLaughlin is truly disgusting and her partner is no better. How can anyone justify the treatment that the employees had to endure. Of course, mcLaughlin doesn't want to talk about it-what could she say- I am an uncivilized animal and am in dire need of sever counseling. Park Slope must be proud
July 7, 2010, 1:13 pm
Carol from Park Slope says:
Does anyone know if this situation has gotten any better? Wonder how Maggie Gylenhaal is feeling about the place hehe. Guess she found Star Bucks more appealing. My guess is that the militant owners just found baristas that are willing to take the abuse for a paycheck. I guess my neighborhood tips well. I found better coffee elsewhere. It is time to take a stand against the negative.
July 14, 2010, 3:46 pm
J from Brooklyn says:
Anyone who still goes to this swill house should look up what is going on now-the two psychos are suing the former employees---for hurting their business---does anyone else find this ironic and just a bit justified!!
Feb. 17, 2011, 7:41 pm

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