TAMPA — Several employees of Tampa Bay Brewing Co. walked out last weekend after the brewery’s co-owner allegedly made disparaging and discriminatory remarks about two of the brewery’s employees.
The events unfolded Saturday at the brewery’s Ybor City location shortly before 4 p.m., according to the brewery’s managing partner, David Doble.
Doble, who was not present during the events but relayed what he learned afterward, said that his father, John Doble, made “egregious” comments about two of the brewery’s employees while in conversation with the general manager. David Doble said his father commented that the bar’s business would improve if they hired “more attractive bartenders.”
Bartender Casey Rhymestine later told WTSP she was the target of that comment.
“I was just honestly shocked that someone would say that,” Rhymestine told the news station.
David Doble said his father, who is 81, also made discriminatory remarks about a longtime manager at the restaurant, calling him “the Middle Eastern kid” in conversation, even though he knew the employee’s name.
Following Saturday’s alleged events, three employees — including a manager and Rhymestine — walked out of the business, forcing the bar to close early. David Doble said that he received a letter of resignation from a fourth employee later in the evening and that he believes there may be one additional employee who quit because of the incident.
News of the events first appeared on the website Reddit over the weekend. On Monday, David Doble posted a Facebook Live recording in which he apologized for his father’s comments and said both his parents had agreed to “walk away” from the business. Doble also issued a statement on Facebook apologizing to the brewery’s employees, calling the incident “unfortunate and egregious.”
“At the end of the day, what took place is terrible,” David Doble said. “All I can do at this point is just say I know, I am trying to fix it and this is what I’m trying to do.”
Tampa Bay Brewing Co. launched in 1995 as an Ybor City brewpub and home brew supply store. The business grew over the years and expanded with a second location in Westchase. David Doble, who left in 1998 to pursue a career as an airline pilot, returned to the business in 2003 after his brother, John Jr., died in a house fire. In 2009, Doble received a 49 percent stake in the company and took on a role managing brewery operations while his mother oversaw the restaurant.
In recent years, David Doble said he has been trying to convince his parents to sell their shares and retire from the business. When asked whether his father had ever made disparaging comments to employees in the past, David Doble declined to comment.
“My dad is not involved in the place at all,” he said. “Have I witnessed that? No. Would I be surprised? No.”
A call to John Doble was not immediately returned.
David Doble said he is in the process of figuring out how to handle his parents stepping away from the business but could not give a timeline or say whether they would be fully divesting or not.
“I wish we were having this conversation next week, because I would have a lot more clarity on this,” he said.