Owner fires her own husband from coffee shop after he used a racial slur

The owner of a San Francisco coffee shop has fired her husband after he used a racial slur.

Eileen Rinaldi used the official Instagram account for her Mission District coffee shop Ritual to announce that she terminated John Rinaldi, her husband, after he “reported to me that he had a verbal altercation over a parking space while managing a construction project” there.

“He said that during the altercation, an individual called John a racial epithet. John said he then made the horrible mistake of repeating the racial slur back to the individual, something that he never should have done,” the post continued. “This incident is extremely upsetting to me.”

According to SFist, John was overheard by several individuals using the n-word in a parking lot near the store while arguing with a Black man over a parking spot. Rinaldi himself confirmed this to the San Francisco Chronicle, again noting that he was “repeating” the word.

"[He] asked me and I quote: ‘What’s your name, bitch ass n------?’ To which I, unfortunately replied: ‘Yup, that’s my name. Bitch ass n------,’” John told the Chronicle. “I have apologized for repeating the derogatory word that was shouted at me. A word I never, ever use. I regret the incident, and feel terrible about it. I am deeply disappointed in myself for meeting hostility with hostility, and allowing the situation to escalate."

It’s certainly a small thing - allegedly a parking spot - to lose one’s commitment to anti-racism over. In any case, the Rinaldis seem to be aware that the situation might cost them a lot of customers. In her post, Eileen referred to her own unnamed “mistakes” and vowed to work on bettering herself “for the life of the business.”

“I am committed to doing the necessary work of continuously evolving how we are an anti-racist, inclusive, and equitable business and place for our employees, customers, and community,” she wrote. “And I embrace that this work has no closure.”

Eileen Rinaldi opened Ritual on Valencia Street in 2005, and has since expanded her presence throughout the city. She married John Rinaldi, a permanent character in the city who goes by the name Chicken John and ran a joke campaign for mayor over a decade ago, in 2012.

She apologized and said she would do better.

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