Boycott Walker Brothers


Illustration by Rachel Krumholz

Saskia Teterycz, Staff Writer

Walker Brothers Pancake House: famous for their perfectly fluffy chocolate chip pancakes, delicious fresh squeezed orange juice and endless lines out the door at ten o’clock in the morning. Their iconic neon sign lights up Green Bay Road and the sparkly, white brick walls constitute the perfect photoshoot location. Walker Brothers is the epitome of North Shore life.

However, on August 30th, the beloved restaurant’s popularity took a turn for the worse. The Chicago Tribune published an article regarding the well-known employee at the House: Othea Loggan. He has been a table-busser at Walker Brothers for over half a century- 54 years to be exact. Since he was 18 years old, Loggan has made the long two hour train commute from the South Side of Chicago to Wilmette everyday. And get this: for the past five decades, he’s been working there, Loggan has made incrementally more than minimum wage, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Obviously, Evanston residents were outraged. Having read dozens of angry Facebook comments about the article, so am I – and for good reason. The business practices of this pancake house we all thought we knew and loved should not be tolerated any longer. The numerous condescending remarks directed towards Loggan by the owner of the house, Ray Walker, are appalling at best, making it all the more clear why Cicely Fleming, Alderwoman for Evanston’s 9th Ward has started a petition protesting Walker Brothers that is now making the rounds online.
In the Tribune article, Ray Walker is quoted as stating that Mr. Loggan was “the complete opposite of a Black Panther kind of guy,” meaning he isn’t one to cause trouble or, in white people speak, he isn’t the kind of black person to cause trouble, unlike the so-called ‘militant’ Black Panther party members from
the 60s and 70s.

In another online article protesting the restaurant, “Let Them Eat (Pan)Cakes?” local activists, Nina Kavin and Lesley Williams succinctly describe the owners comments as “patronizing towards Mr. Loggan and to African Americans in general.” I couldn’t agree more. Numerous times Mr. Walker can be caught making inappropriate remarks about Loggan’s intellectual capability and seeming to “treat Loggan a little better than the rest of the staff,” even giving him hand-me downs because he wears the same pair of pants day after day.

According to Walker, Mr. Loggan has never wanted to be moved up to a higher position, even though he was even offered multiple times to be advanced to more managerial positions. Each time Loggan has declined, apparently claiming that he is perfectly content where he is and doesn’t think more of it. Fleming makes a good point in her petition letter: “Anyone who has spent decades contributing to the success of a business deserves a fair wage and benefits including a retirement plan.” Doesn’t 54 years count for something more than minimum wage?
The fact is, no situation is black and white- especially not this one. Evanston residents still seem to be processing the entire ordeal: to boycott or not to boycott? When one decides to protest the pancake house, are they standing up for Mr. Loggan and challenging the racism going on behind the scenes, putting him more at risk of losing his job, or using Mr. Loggan as an example for a cause he doesn’t want to fight for?

It’s certainly true that Ray Walker could punish Mr. Loggan as a response to the public’s backlash. But it is also true that, by continuing to eat at Walker Brothers, we are supporting a business that mistreats its workers–and that makes us complicit. I believe that to boycott the pancake house for its racist business practices is to say loud and clear that those practices are unacceptable and must not be supported.

In this case, boycotting Walker Brothers for exploiting its employees seems a small price to pay if there’s any chance to get the message across. When there is injustice being done, you need to be willing to call it out, even if it means giving up the breakfast place you love. Change will not be made unless done so by extreme measures, and if this means boycotting my favorite diner, then so be it.