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Sandwich Chain CEO Apologizes for Christmas Firing

Sandwich Chain CEO Apologizes for Christmas Firing

Snarf’s Sandwiches fired a location’s staff days before the holiday

Snarf's has locations in Colorado, St. Louis, and Chicago.

It’s incredibly poor form to fire someone via email. It’s even worse to do it a couple days before Christmas. But that’s exactly what happened to the staff of one of the locations of Snarf’s Sandwiches in Chicago last weekend, when the company sent out an email informing all the shop’s employees that Monday, December 23rd would be their last day, as the shop was shutting down.

The backlash was brutal, as the firings made national news. While there’s nothing that the chain can do to really set things right, CEO Jim Seidel has apologized via this message on the chain’s Facebook page:

"I am very remorseful for the way we handled our recent restaurant closure at 600 West in Chicago. It was insensitive and poorly planned. By explanation, rather than excuse, business was suffering and we felt the need to act quickly to begin efforts to re-concept the store. We recognize now we acted rashly. For this, we apologize to our employees and to our loyal customers who we know we’ve disappointed. This was not handled in a way that met our own standards for quality and kindness. We’ve learned from this mistake and will not be so insensitive again. For now, as a token of our apology and in the holiday spirit, we will be providing impacted employees an additional week of wages. Again, we are deeply sorry. –Jim Seidel, CEO/Owner, Snarf’s"

All things considered, this was a pretty classy way to handle a very messy situation.


Jimmy John Liautaud

Liautaud was born in Arlington Heights, Illinois on January 12, 1964. [3] [4] His father is James Liautaud, longtime entrepreneur, and his mother is Gina Gudaityte Liautaud. He was born the second of four siblings, with brothers Greg and Robby Liautaud and a sister Lara Liautaud Berry. [5] [4] He attended high school at Elgin Academy, a private prep school in Elgin, Illinois, where he became close with and was influenced by the dean, James Lyons. [6]

He studied at Eastern Illinois University, but left after one semester to grow his up-and-coming restaurant business. [7]

After Liautaud graduated from high school in 1982, his father offered him a loan of $25,000 to open a business on the condition that if the business failed, he would enlist in the US Army. [6] Although his father wanted him to enlist, he agreed to loan the money in exchange for a 48% stake in the business. Initially Jimmy John wanted to open a hot dog stand, but after visiting numerous such stands throughout the summer of 1982, he realized the $25,000 would not be enough for such a venture. [8] After a chance encounter at a sandwich shop, Jimmy John realized that he could open a sandwich shop within his available budget by purchasing premium meats at a neighborhood market and baking his own bread. With the help of his family as tasters, he decided to put four sandwiches on his original menu. On January 13, 1983 Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches opened in Charleston, Illinois. [2] [8] Due to the poor location of his first store, Liautaud decided to include delivery of his sandwiches to boost sales. He began by bringing samples door-to-door to the nearby Eastern Illinois University dorms. [7] By the end of his first year, the restaurant started making a profit. At the end of his second year, Liautaud was able to purchase his father's share in the business and he became sole owner. The business continued to grow, and he was able to open his second and third shops in 1986 and 1987.

In 1988, Liautaud met businessman Jamie Coulter. At the time, Coulter was a Pizza Hut Franchisee, and later founded and ran Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon and other chains. Coulter helped Liautaud take his business to the next level. In 1994 he sold his first Jimmy John's franchise, in addition to the 10 stores owned by Liautaud himself. [8] [9]

By 2002, the company had about 200 stores, 10% of which were corporate stores that Liautaud oversaw himself. Sales at the stores managed by Liautaud were outpacing the franchised stores by a wide margin. Together with his partner, and now President & CEO, James North, he visited 70 of the poorest-performing stores. After 18 months of getting the stores “back to basics” and instilling in them “some of that initial spark”, he was able to help the stores become more profitable. [7]

In January 2007, Liautaud selected Weston Presidio, a private-equity firm, to help acquire better locations for the expanding company. Weston Presidio bought a 33% stake in the company, and during the first year closed on over 100 real estate deals. [8]

In September 2016, Roark Capital Group agreed to purchase a majority stake in Liautaud's company, as Weston Presidio sold their minority investment after 10 years. Terms of the transaction were not immediately disclosed, though it was later clarified that Liautaud retained 35% ownership of the company as part of the deal. [10] As part of the agreement, Liautaud, as the company's founder and largest individual shareholder, continued as chairman of the board. [11] [12]

In his 2018 book, Dick Portillo of Portillo's Restaurants called Liautaud his "good friend" and relayed that Liautaud tried to buy Portillo's before it was ultimately sold to Berkshire Partners. [13]

In September 2019, Roark's Inspire Brands announced it was acquiring Jimmy John's for an unspecified amount in a deal unanimously approved by Liautaud and the rest of the Jimmy John's Board of Directors. [14] At the close of the deal, Liautaud said that he will step down as chairman of the company and transition to become an adviser to the brand. [15] The acquisition was completed on October 18. [16]

In 2008, Liautaud donated $1 million to his high school, Elgin Academy, on the condition that the building constructed using his donation bear not only his name, but also the name of the man who had been the dean of the school when Liautaud attended: James Lyons. [6]

In 2011, Liautaud and his wife pledged $1 million toward the construction of the new Champaign County YMCA. [17]

In July 2014, Liautaud donated $1 million to the Folds of Honor Foundation, an organization that supports the spouses and children of America's fallen and disabled service-members. [18]

In 2017, Liautaud and his wife, Leslie, donated $2 million to help Brewster Academy kick off the fundraising for their new residence hall to house 22 students and 4 faculty residences. [19] In May 2018, the new residence opened, and is called "Toad Hall" after a common mispronunciation of the family's last name. [20]

In January 2019, Camp Southern Ground, a non-profit summer camp founded by musician Zac Brown, announced that the Liautauds had donated over $3.2 million to date to help build the camp's first residential lodge and fund ongoing operations. In non-summer months, the camp's facilities are used to support military veterans and their families transitioning back to civilian life. [21]

The Liautaud Family Foundation directed $1.291 million to the Horatio Alger Association to support scholarships for underprivileged students in 2019. [22]

Liautaud partnered with his father to create with an endowment gift of $5 million, the Liautaud Graduate School of Business at the University of Illinois-Chicago. [22] [23]

The Liautauds donated $1 million to Chicago's Youth Guidance Becoming a Man program, which helps disadvantaged young men learn how to handle tough life challenges and give them the tools to succeed in the future. [22] [24]

Other causes supported by the Liautauds include: the Frances Nelson Smile Healthy Dental Clinic, [25] the Kickapoo Rail Trail, [26] Crisis Nursery in Urbana, Illinois, [27] Champaign County's Youth Assessment Center, [28] Champaign Unit 4 schools, [29] Christmas layaway purchases, [30] the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, MD Anderson, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, the Goodman Theater, and the Detroit Symphony. [22] [31]

Liautaud is a member of the University of Illinois at Chicago's Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. [32]

In 2003, he was named to Chicago's “40 Under 40” by Crain's Chicago Business. [33]

In 2004, he was named the Ernst & Young Food & Beverage Entrepreneur of the Year in Illinois. The winners were selected by an independent panel of judges composed of local community and business leaders. [34] In the same year, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National CEO Conference and inducted into the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization Hall of Fame. [35]

In 2007, Liautaud delivered the commencement speech at his alma mater, now known as the Liautaud-Lyons Upper School, a program of Elgin Academy. [6]

In 2012, Liautaud was awarded the Nation's Restaurant News Golden Chain award for outstanding accomplishments that have benefited consumers in the food industry. [36]

In March 2017, he was named Franchise Times' "Dealmaker of the Year" for the deal that brought Roark Capital Group in as the company's new majority owner. Beth Ewen, FT's editor-in-chief called the deal "one of the best private equity deals of all time in the restaurant business." [37] In December of that year, Liautaud was chosen to receive the Horatio Alger Award for 2018. The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans recognizes people who have overcome personal challenges to achieve personal and professional success. [38] [39]

Liautaud has spoken at high schools [40] colleges and universities [41] [42] [43] and community spaces. [44] [45]

Liautaud is an avid hunter and fisherman. In an interview in 2015 with the Chicago Tribune, Liautaud said that the largest misconception about him is that people still connect him to photos of him posing with big game from 10 years ago. According to Liautaud, he used to hunt big game in Africa on legally organized safaris, but he no longer does. [7] Starting in 2015, his hunting prompted people to call for a boycott of his business. [46]

Liautaud is married to Leslie Liautaud and has three children, Spencer, Lucy, and Fred. [8] [47] Liautaud is an investor in wines and vineyards, at least one of which has been featured on the cover of Wine Spectator. [48] He also owns thousands of acres of farmland in Central Illinois. [49]


The chicken sandwich made Popeyes millions

It didn't take long for the Popeyes chicken sandwich to catch fire. Almost immediately upon its release, social media and news outlets were touting it as the best chicken sandwich in the land — regardless of Chick-fil-A's opinion. By the end of the month, the famous chicken wars of 2019 had given Popeyes the equivalent of $65 million in advertising — and Popeyes paid zilch for it (via Forbes).

As for what all that publicity translated to in terms of profit for Louisiana-based Popeyes, well, it made obviously made them millions. CEO José Cil reportedly said that Popeye's third-quarter sales were 16 percent higher than the previous year, and the company made a $47 million profit (via Business Insider). Popeyes hasn't said exactly how much of that came specifically from chicken sandwich sales, but the company admitted that the sandwich drove up sales of drinks, desserts, and just about every other menu item as well as its now-iconic sandwich.

Cil credited the success to ". a really fortuitous moment of social-media interaction between two brands" as the driving force behind the chicken sandwich's buzz.


The Top 5 Websites to Visit for Christmas

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As Christmas draws closer by the day, Breitbart News has chosen to list some of the most fun and popular websites for our readers to visit during the Christmas season.

After spending the past year pointing out the dangers of the digital world, Breitbart Tech is pleased to highlight some of the more positive websites and technologies available these days. This year, Breitbart Tech is going to highlight some of the most fun Christmas themed websites for readers to visit with their children or grandchildren leading up to Christmas.

1: NORAD Santa Tracker

The NORAD Santa Tracker has long been a popular online Christmas tool which is designed to track Santa Claus as he travels around the world delivering presents to all young boys and girls. This website has been operating for so long that this reporter can remember using the site myself as a child.

While the website focuses on tracking Santa in a GPS style fashion, it also features Christmas themed games, music and videos. Visit the NORAD Santa Tracker here.

2: Portable North Pole

At the Portable North Pole, parents can take advantage of custom personalized videos, and even phone calls and video chats with Santa Claus himself. The site also features Santa’s Village where children can watch videos from Santas’ elves, complete coloring books and read fun Christmas cooking recipes. Visit the Portable North Pole here.
Watch a video from the Portable North Pole below:

3: Reindeer Cam

The Reindeer Cam allows users to directly view a livestream of Santa’s very own reindeers. The website features shows at specific times, the Santa & Friends official show takes place on weekdays at 11:00 a.m.& 7:00 p.m. Eastern and 7:00 p.m. Eastern on weekends. A special section of the Reindeer Cam website also teaches children the characteristics of a “Nice Kid” and even shows them how to write a letter to Santa Claus himself.

The Reindeer Cam website also features an official app so that users can view the Reindeer live feed on the go. Visit the Reindeer Cam website here.

4: Elf Yourself.com

Elf Yourself operates as both a website and a mobile app, allowing users to upload photos of themselves and family members which are then placed onto the body of one of Santa’s elves who act out a number of skits and dances. Elf Yourself is a fun way to send Christmas cheer to friends and family during the Holiday season.

5: Why Christmas

Why Christmas allows users to learn all about Christmas and the traditions surrounding the holiday, such as the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and the North Pole. Why Christmas also tells the Christmas Story and the birth of Jesus Christ and provides information on how Christmas is celebrated around the world.

These are some of Breitbart Tech’s top website suggestions for Christmas 2018, Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating the holiday at this time of year!


Recipes

AOL.com

Crockpot Coconut Hot Chocolate

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Winter Beet And Pomegranate Salad

Delish

Hearty & Hot Vegan Black Bean Soup Will Make You Blush

'Cooking Scrappy' author Joel Gamoran shares his secrets for using holiday leftovers

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Crack the Biscotti Code With This Cake Mix Shortcut

Southern Living

Tips From the Test Kitchen - Apple Cider

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It's Time To Cozy Up With A Bowl Of Leek & Potato Soup!


Chipotle CEO Issues Apology Over Recent E. Coli and Norovirus Outbreaks

It's been a rough few months for Chipotle. The beloved Tex-Mex chain&mdashnormally known for serving up organic, preservative-free burritos&mdashhas seen an alarming number of e. coli and norovirus outbreaks crop up as of late. Customers everywhere are rightly frightened, and co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Ells has issued a formal apology in order to assure them they have nothing more to worry about.

According to Yahoo Food, after expressing regret over recent outbreaks during an interview with NBC's "Today" program, Ells explained that Chipotle has new safety procedures lined up to prevent further outbreaks. The new plan is, in fact, "so above industry norms," that it will make Chipotle the "safest place to eat."

And it sounds like the plan is pretty extensive. Grub Street reports that it includes such detailed steps as putting previous outbreak culprits (like tomatoes and other uncooked ingredients) through a "sanitary kill step", before hermetically sealing them for service.


JEA removes CEO Aaron Zahn

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA has parted ways with embattled CEO Aaron Zahn only 13 months after he was given the job, but the terms of his exit are still under negotiation.

The utility’s Board of Directors voted at Tuesday’s meeting to immediately terminate Zahn’s contract, although he was suspended with pay for now while city attorneys and his lawyer hammer out to the details of his departure. The board approved a motion to terminate Zahn without cause but left it to the city’s general counsel to work out details. Under the terms of Zahn’s deal with the JEA, he could receive $500,000 or more if the city cannot prove that he violated his contract.

Zahn, who did not attend the meeting, declined to comment on the board’s decision.

At a news conference held after the meeting, JEA board Chair April Green admitted that hiring Zahn was a mistake.

“We are human. We voted unanimous(ly) on Mr. Zahn’s contract and, at that time, believed that he was the man for the job,” Green said. “Subsequently, we learned that he is not that person. I apologize for that.”

Melissa Dykes, who is the authority’s chief operating officer, was selected as interim CEO in Zahn’s absence. Dykes was on the shortlist for CEO when the board hired Zahn, but she was passed over.

Green proposed firing Zahn for cause, which would have meant he received no severance pay and she was the lone vote against a motion by board member Henry Brown to terminate Zahn without cause. Zahn would collect approximately $842,000 if were terminated without cause, but the board directed the Office of General Counsel to negotiate to avoid that.

Green told the rest of the board she asked Zahn for his resignation Dec. 13. After initially agreeing to resign, she said, he later backpedaled and requested instead that he be terminated without cause.

“I’ve received calls from former employees and board members (who say) that there’s more to this,” she said. “We’re talking about an investigation that needs to be had.”

She said she felt misled about an employee bonus plan that had the potential to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars at taxpayers’ expense if JEA were sold and Zahn’s stake in a property co-owned by a lobbyist.

“The liability must lie with Mr. Zahn,” Green said.

City attorneys said it’s unclear if the allegations against Zahn rise to the point that the board could fire him for cause, noting that his contract sets a high bar and they would need to find evidence of “gross negligence" or “willful misconduct.”

After the board meeting, Green apologized to the community and the utility’s employees.

“I am personally embarrassed. This has been -- I almost used foul language but I won’t -- this has been a show," Green said. “On behalf of the board, we apologize to every employee of JEA. We understand it’s difficult to hear these discussions that ultimately led to the authority that they love and their jobs. I’d also like to apologize to the public. Transparency is key to us going forward.”

Dykes said she was “honored and humbled” that the board is allowing her to serve as interim CEO again. She would not commit to applying to be the authority’s permanent CEO.

Mayor Lenny Curry, who has backed Zahn’s strategic plan to restructure JEA, was not present Tuesday.

“I support the board’s decision today as it relates to CEO Aaron Zahn,” Curry said in a brief statement to News4Jax.

Zahn’s termination follows calls for his removal from City Councilman Matt Carlucci and others. It also comes a day after Council Members Rory Diamond and Ron Salem grilled Zahn and other JEA brass about the mothballed bonus plan.

At Monday’s meeting, Zahn took ownership of the criticism related to the bonus plan, saying he made an error in judgment by proposing it. According to a city council auditor, the plan could have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars instead of the original $3.4 million estimate provided to the board.

The shuffle in leadership comes as JEA is in the midst of an invitation to negotiate, or ITN, process to find potential suitors to purchase all or part of the city-owned utility.

“I think everybody needs to take a reset,” Council President Scott Wilson said Monday morning. “Let’s pause let’s get through the Christmas holidays and then, in January, let’s have a conversation about the path forward to make sure our lawyers are up to speed and understand where we are prior to this counsel taking any action.”

JEA is in talks with nine companies that have expressed interest in negotiating to buy all or party of the electric, water and sewer provider for most of Duval County’s residents. Little is known about the process as much of it has been kept under wraps under what city documents have called a “cone of silence.”

“This entire ‘conversation’ on selling the JEA has long lost credibility and fatigued our citizens and stalled our city’s progress on so many other important issues that affect all of Jacksonville’s citizens,” said Carlucci, who over the weekend called for a grand jury investigation of JEA.

Zahn has become a target for the public in recent months as JEA continues to explore the privatization of the city-owned utility. A recent UNF poll found that only 33% percent of respondents approved of the job he is doing while 47% disapproved.

“Of all the public figures polled in this survey, Aaron Zahn is the only one with a net negative job approval,” said Dr. Michael Binder, director of the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab. “Clearly, the Invitation to Negotiate and potential sale spearheaded by Zahn has impacted the public’s view of his job performance.”

Zahn was selected by the JEA board to become the interim CEO in April 2018 and was named permanent CEO in November 2018. Zahn came under fire for lack of experience, but his commitment to the community was cited by several board members as his strongest attribute. Zahn also had the unwavering support of Mayor Curry.

“The departure of Aaron Zahn as CEO of JEA may create the impression that this is the end. In fact it may very well be the beginning," said News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney. "There will be a lot of unanswered questions. What is the future leadership of JEA going to look like? What about the future of the board? one of the biggest questions, of course, is what is the future of the sales process itself? Is it going to be terminated and are we going to start all over?”

Earlier this month the JEA replaced all four members of the negotiations team evaluating proposals to buy all or part of the city-owned utility with non-JEA employees to avoid a state ethics probe of conflict of interest. Despite being controversial, the JEA’s plan to give employees performance bonuses to retain them a pending sale were approved through collective bargaining and by City Council. A Performance Unit Plan that would have allowed employees to buy invest $10 in order to earn a share of future profits of the utility was withdrawn at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Ultimately, the sale of JEA would have to be passed by City Council, signed by the mayor and approved by the voters of Jacksonville prior to the sale being finalized.


A baker's dozen of our favorite Flo Braker recipes

From her very first San Francisco Chronicle recipe in 1989 (a simple apricot pound cake) to her finale in 2012 (a classic French far breton), Flo Braker and her "The Baker" column served up recipes that were were approachable, educational and, above all, guaranteed to be delicious.

As Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer wrote in a 2012 piece celebrating Braker's final column, she was "one of our biggest supporters and helpmates," always there to answer questions about baking and pastry techniques.

When we learned last week that Braker died on June 14, we were all incredibly shocked and saddened. Perhaps, as a way to process our grief, we began to reminisce on our favorite recipes of hers. With over two decades of stories for The Chronicle, plus several cookbooks to her name, there are a lot to choose from.

So, it has been comforting to know that although Flo may no longer be with us, we still have her recipes and words of wisdom to guide and encourage us any time we want to pick up a whisk.

Here are a baker's dozen of our favorite Flo recipes:

Sarah Fritsche first came to The San Francisco Chronicle as a culinary student in 2006. Upon completing her externship, she spent several years working back-of-house gigs in San Francisco's restaurant and catering industries, as well as serving as the executive assistant for a wine and spirits start-up. In 2010, she returned to The Chronicle, and has since covered everything from breaking restaurant news to what produce is in season at Bay Area farmers' markets. Her favorite beat, however, is cooking, testing and developing recipes in The Chronicle's Test Kitchen. She is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.


Starbucks C.E.O. Apologizes After Arrests of 2 Black Men

Two black men walked into a Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon and sat down. Officials said they had asked to use the restroom but because they had not bought anything, an employee refused the request. They were eventually asked to leave, and when they declined, an employee called the police.

Some of what happened next was recorded in a video that has been viewed more than eight million times on Twitter and was described by the chief executive of Starbucks as “very hard to watch.” Details of the episode, which the authorities provided on Saturday, ignited widespread criticism on social media, incited anger among public officials and prompted investigations.

The video shows the men surrounded by several police officers wearing bicycle helmets in the Center City Starbucks. When one officer asks another man whether he is “with these gentlemen,” the man says he is and calls the episode ridiculous.

“What did they get called for?” asks the man, Andrew Yaffe, who is white, referring to the police. “Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?”

Moments later, officers escort one of the black men out of the Starbucks in handcuffs. The other soon follows.

The men, who have not been identified, were arrested on suspicion of trespassing. But Starbucks did not want to press charges and the men were later released, Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. of the Philadelphia Police Department said in a recorded statement on Saturday.

The prosecutor’s office in Philadelphia also reviewed the case and declined to charge the men because of “a lack of evidence that a crime was committed,” Benjamin Waxman, a spokesman for the office, said.

The company apologized on Twitter Saturday afternoon. Later that day, while the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks was trending on Twitter, Kevin R. Johnson, the chief executive of Starbucks, released a statement in which he called the situation a “reprehensible outcome.”

Mr. Johnson said he hoped to meet them in person to offer a “face-to-face apology.”

He also pledged to investigate, and to “make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again.”

“Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling,” he said. “Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome — the basis for the call to the Philadelphia Police Department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”

A company spokesman late on Saturday would not say whether any employees would face discipline.

A longer video of the episode shows the police talking with the men for at least four minutes before Mr. Yaffe arrives. He informs the police that the men they are about to take into custody are “not trespassing” but instead are “meeting me here.”

“That’s absolutely discrimination,” Mr. Yaffe said in the video. He declined to comment on Saturday.

In his statement, Commissioner Ross defended his officers, noting they had asked the men to leave three times because employees had said they were trespassing. The men refused, he said.

“These officers had legal standing to make this arrest,” Commissioner Ross said. “These officers did absolutely nothing wrong. They followed policy, they did what they were supposed to do, they were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen — and instead they got the opposite back.

“I will say that as an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias,” he continued. “We are committed to fair and unbiased policing, and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department.”

About 700 of the department’s 6,300 officers are equipped with body cameras, he added, but the officers involved were not wearing them.

Jim Kenney, the mayor of Philadelphia, blamed Starbucks, saying that the episode “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”

“Starbucks has issued an apology, but that is not enough,” he said in a statement. He said he has asked the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to examine the company’s policies and procedures.

Starbucks said such a review was already underway.

“I know our store managers and partners work hard to exceed our customers’ expectations every day — which makes this very poor reflection on our company all the more painful,” Mr. Johnson said in his statement. He added: “You can and should expect more from us. We will learn from this and be better.”


Woman apologizes after backlash from confronting homeowner

The CEO of a cosmetics company issued an apology Sunday after a video was widely shared online showing her and her husband confronting a man and threatening to call police because he stenciled “Black Lives Matter” in chalk on his San Francisco property.

The video, which has been retweeted 155,000 times, has sparked accusations of racism and led a cosmetics distributor to cut ties with Lisa Alexander, founder and CEO of LaFace Skincare.

“There are not enough words to describe how truly sorry I am for being disrespectful to him last Tuesday when I made the decision to question him about what he was doing in front of his home," Alexander said in a statement. “I should have minded my own business.”

The video, which first appeared Tuesday on the Facebook page of James Juanillo, shows a couple asking him whether he lives in the house before asserting that they know he doesn’t live there and is therefore breaking the law.

Juanillo doesn’t answer the couple, but invites them to call the police. The couple then walk away, with Alexander responding: “Yes, we will do so.”

The video stops short of showing what happens next. Juanillo summed up the encounter on Twitter: “A white couple call the police on me, a person of color, for stenciling a #BLM chalk message on my own front retaining wall.”

He added that Alexander “lies and says she knows that I don’t live in my own house, because she knows the person who lives here.”

Juanillo, who is Filipino, told KGO-TV he believes the couple accused him of defacing private property because they didn't think he belonged in the wealthy Pacific Heights neighborhood.

He said a police officer pulled up several minutes after the encounter and drove away after recognizing Juanillo as a longtime resident.

The social media furor over the video led Birchbox, which distributes beauty products via a subscription service, to announce Saturday that it has cut ties with the company over Alexander’s “racist actions.”

“When I watch the video I am shocked and sad that I behaved the way I did,” Alexander's statement said.

She said she was committed to learn from the experience and wants to apologize to Juanillo in person.

Juanillo said Sunday that he would be open to talking with Alexander. He said in the last several days neighbors have left flowers and notes expressing support, with many adding chalk art to the retaining wall and sidewalk.

“For me this experience has left me feeling vindicated and validated. I imagine that she regrets those couple of minutes," he said. "Do I believe that her life should be destroyed over this? No. I just hope that she realizes that what she did was racist and she can improve from this incident.”


Hallmark Channel apologizes for pulling ads featuring same-sex weddings

The Hallmark Channel is reversing its decision to pull advertisements featuring same-sex couples and apologizing for removing them in the first place, a network spokeswoman told CNN Business.

The decision comes after Hallmark parent company Crown Media Family Networks faced calls for viewers and advertisers to boycott its television channel. The ads, from online wedding planning company Zola, showed same-sex couples celebrating marriages.

Hallmark president and CEO Mike Perry said Sunday that the company made the "wrong decision" and wants to reinstate the commercials.

"The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we've seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision," Perry said in a statement provided to CNN Business.

"Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts for this purpose is not who we are," he said. "As the CEO of Hallmark, I am sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused."

Zola said earlier that the ads pulled were among several similar commercials slated to run on Hallmark and that "the only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved" is that the flagged ads included a lesbian couple kissing. The company said a commercial featuring a heterosexual couple kissing was approved.

One of the ads in question features a lesbian couple at the altar on their wedding day discussing whether they should have used Zola to share details of their ceremony and registry with their guests.

Hallmark removed the ads after conservative group One Million Moms created a targeted campaign calling on the network to remove the ads and ban other content showing same-sex couples.

In its original statement, Hallmark said it pulled the ads because the "debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value."

Now, though, CEO Perry says that Hallmark will reach out to Zola to "reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials." It will also work with the advocacy organization GLAAD to "better represent" the LGBTQ community across its brands.

Zola said late Sunday that it will be in touch with Hallmark " regarding a potential return to advertising."

"We were deeply troubled when Hallmark rejected our commercials for featuring a lesbian couple celebrating their marriage, and are relieved to see that decision was reversed," Zola Chief Marketing Officer Mike Chi told CNN Business. Before Hallmark's reversal, the company removed the rest of its ads from the channel.

Hallmark faced backlash from hundreds of users on social media over its initial decision to pull the commercials.

"@Hallmarkchannel has bowed to anti-family activists who seek to erase our community," LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said on Twitter. "For a channel whose brand is love, Hallmark is leading with fear and discrimination."

Many called on viewers to stop watching the Hallmark Channel, which is in the thick of holiday movie season. Some other TV and streaming brands even jumped into the conversation on Twitter to let viewers know they have other options.

Freeform, a cable channel owned by Disney, tweeted, "This is what happens when you focus all your energy on exclusion instead of clever plotlines. Call us, @Zola. We celebrate the holidays with everyone."

Netflix also tweeted a not-so-subtle comment on the controversy, listing a few titles in its library that feature, "Lesbians Joyfully Existing And Also It's Christmas Can We Just Let People Love Who They Love."

Some also called for people to stop buying products owned by Hallmark, such as greeting cards and Crayola crayons.

The-CNN-Wire
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