San Francisco’s Ritual Coffee Roasters was started by Eileen Rinaldi in 2005 after she took a trip to a Seattle coffee house and decided to bring the business venture to her hometown. But though she set out to build “a totally unique, passionate enterprise, while at the same time helping foster the careers of so many on the vanguard,” her husband, John Rinaldi, would ultimately get in the way of his wife’s business with his bigoted behavior.
Over the years, several incidents have arisen that left Ritual Coffee Roaster employees feeling uncomfortable, as John would often handle projects for the business. According to Eater, one worker often felt uneasy whenever he was in the shop, revealing that his reputation “was known within the entire company.” Another employee stated about John to Eater, “We all have degrees of not really liking him.”
Often referred to as “Chicken John,” Eileen’s husband gained attention in 2007 for running for mayor of San Francisco against Gavin Newsom, who’s currently the mayor of California. According to the SFist, he got into hot water in 2011 when he allegedly threatened to spit on baristas working at Blue Bottle coffee cart.
John allegedly wrote in a newsletter, “I’m gonna go puke on a trailer this weekend because no one knows that this weekend a commercial entity is going to open a store in Dolores Park and is doing it without anyone knowing.”
In 2019, John allegedly tackled a Black male customer at the California coffee shop who tried to reach in a tip jar, Eater reported, yelling that he “was going to jail, that he was going to die in jail.” But things would ultimately come to a head for Eileen when she heard, from her husband’s own mouth, that he had hurled a racial slur at someone over a parking spot, leaving her to make the difficult decision of letting him go.
“I want to tell you about a difficult and personal situation that is happening at my company, Ritual Coffee. Last week, I terminated my husband, John Rinaldi, from working at Ritual on a freelance project and from doing any future work in any capacity at Ritual,” she said in an Instagram post Tuesday, June 8.
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“He reported to me that he had a verbal altercation over a parking space while managing a construction project. He said that during the altercation, an individual called John a racial epithet,” Eileen continued. “John said he then made the horrible mistake of repeating the racial slur back to the individual, something that he never should have done. This incident is extremely upsetting to me.”
“While he had only this freelance construction role at Ritual in the last year, I’m deeply regretful for allowing John to oversee this project or to do any work with Ritual…I have made mistakes and I’m learning. 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.”
John hasn’t publicly responded to his racial slur usage or firing from his wife’s coffee shop.