Good evening, everyone.  I hope you are all safe and secure.

This country’s long history of racial inequality came to a boiling point this week and many of our communities are hurting.  Given everything that is happening around us, I want to reaffirm my commitment and the commitment of all of the Lettuce partners and senior leaders to our Culture of Caring.  It is the foundational core on which we operate.  We strongly believe in a shared, mutual responsibility to treat each other with respect and dignity and we denounce violence in all its forms.  Our Culture of Caring bonds all of us and makes us strong and successful.

Yesterday was tragic and upsetting to me on many levels as peaceful protests splintered into riots in a matter of minutes.  Tremendous damage was done across the country including many of the cities where we have restaurants and employees, including our home town, Chicago.   Our restaurants were vandalized and burglarized.  Windows and doors were smashed, external walls and interiors were tagged with graffiti and equipment and inventory were stolen.  I want to personally acknowledge my regret that some of our working teams were first-hand witnesses to many of these events.  I wish we had been able to anticipate the direction the night would take and I regret the fear and anxiety that it caused many of you.  I am beyond grateful that we have had no reports of injury and that everyone made it home safely.  I’m sorry we didn’t have more intelligence that this was going to turn violent.

Today, I was reminded of the resiliency of our communities and our people.  As I arrived on the scene in River North today, I saw a true team effort in cleaning up our stores, getting them boarded up, and helping return our neighborhood into the great city center we know it is.  Thank you to our teams who showed up, even without being asked; and thank you to our partners and our Nuts and Bolts crew who arrived early this morning to start picking up the pieces.  I have heard similar stories of teamwork and resolve from across all of our stores.  I have never been prouder of our people than I was today.  We saw our neighbors volunteering to help us clean – grabbing brooms, wiping off graffiti and cleaning windows.  Thank you to all of you.

Although we successfully cleaned up a large amount of the destruction, we have a lot of work to do.  On top of that, many of our cities are imposing curfews and/or securing at-risk areas.  I do not know what tonight will bring.  We are all hoping for a peaceful night without incident – but we are bracing for every possible outcome.  Therefore, we believe it is in our best interest that we close many of our stores as a precaution.  All of our downtown Chicago restaurants will be closed tomorrow (Monday).   Some of our restaurants elsewhere in Chicago and the suburbs will likely not be open for lunch, and may also close for dinner.   Restaurants in other cities will be making decisions based on local conditions.  I do not know when we will be able to get our places open, but I am hopeful that it is quick.   Know this:  We will not open any restaurant unless we are confident that it is safe for our team members to come to work.

You may feel like we took a giant step backward last night.  That is understandable.  Just as we are marching to reopen, and getting back to what we all love doing, we hit a new obstacle.  But I know this much for certain – we will get through this.  This too shall pass.  We will open our doors.  We will get our dining rooms open.  We will get back to work.

R.J. Melman
President