Employees of the Four Seasons will be deciding whether or not to go on strike ahead of the historic restaurant’s last week in business — a vote coming after complaints that they will not be guaranteed jobs at the new iteration of the restaurant. The UnitedHere Local 100 Union representing the staff has been passing around flyers for a meeting on Friday titled "Four Seasons Restaurant Strike Vote." Besides the job guarantee, staff protested last month that owners Alex von Bidder and Julian Niccolini are not paying proper severance to staff.
Another flyer being posted in the nearly 60-year-old, landmarked restaurant urges the owners to come to an agreement with the union regarding job security. "Together we have over 1,100 years of service at Four Seasons," it reads. "We have earned the right to continue working for you at 280 Park Avenue when you reopen." Representatives with the union did not return multiple requests for comment.
Niccolini and von Bidder tell Eater they will keep the restaurant open for its final week regardless of what happens on Friday, but neither think that the staff will vote to strike. "I think we have great people working at the Four Seasons and that common sense will prevail," Niccolini says. Von Bidder has been the person negotiating with the union over the past week, and he says that the union has threatened a vote to strike during negotiations in the past. It’s never gotten to that point, and he's "completely convinced" that they’ll reach an agreement before a strike happens this time as well. "Obviously we would never open a new restaurant without having some of our trusted staff members with us," von Bidder says. "We can’t do it alone."
The legendary restaurant, known for its stunning architecture and power lunches among the rich and famous, will be closing its doors next week after farewell parties, an auction, and a benefit for Citymeals on Wheels. It will be moving a few blocks south, and Major Food Group will be taking over the original landmarked space for a ritzy new restaurant.
The new Four Seasons may not open for another year and a half. Von Bidder says he realizes that people are nervous and angry about losing their jobs. "I know that everybody is worried about their future," von Bidder says. "We are, too. We’re working together to build something new."