2 Milwaukee Popeyes temporarily close, some employees protest over working conditions

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) has issued temporary closure orders for two Popeyes locations, according to a spokesman.

MHD dispatched inspectors to the Popeyes at 29th and Capitol Drives and another at 62nd and Silver Spring Drives after receiving video of flooding at the restaurants.

The inspection report for the Popeyes at 2910 W. Capitol Drive states that there is an imminent health concern requiring the cessation of all catering operations and the catering license was immediately suspended.

According to the report, water pipes have burst in several places, causing leaks and flooding. Cooking utensils under the places of the pipes were covered with water. The heating did not work in the building.

According to the report, mouse droppings were also found at the facility.

MHD instructs Popeyes to fix all violations before January 11, 2023. MHD and the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) must complete inspections before the restaurant can reopen.

The inspection report for the Popeyes at 6120 W. Silver Spring Dr. identified an imminent health threat that required the cessation of all food operations, and the food license was immediately suspended.

The report states that water leaked above a washing station.

MHD instructed Popeyes to fix the violation by December 28, 2022. The restaurant must contact the inspector before reopening.

Some employees at Popeyes at 2910 W. Capitol Drive protested outside the restaurant Wednesday afternoon.

Shift supervisor Angela Whitelow said the heating hadn’t worked in months.

“I dont lie. I’m not exaggerating. When you go in there, it’s colder inside the store than outside,” Whitelow said.

Images sent to CBS 58 show the restaurant’s interior is flooded with water and in places the water has turned to ice.

“There’s an icicle up there. It’s freezing. It’s ice everywhere,” Whitelow said. “I can’t work like that.”

Whitelow said staff wear winter coats while working in the kitchen and customers complain it’s too cold to eat in the dining room.

The shift supervisor said the managers and owners above her are doing nothing to fix the problem.

A woman identified by staff as the manager did not answer CBS 58’s questions about the conditions.

“It’s just silly to me how you’re standing out here in the cold but complaining about working in the cold,” the woman said.

The woman did not confirm whether a pipe was broken.

A CBS 58 crew observed a plumber’s truck in the parking lot and a plumber entering and exiting the building.

“I can’t talk about that,” said the woman. “You can ask the people who work here. They know everything.”

Protesting workers were supported by Fight for $15, a movement demanding higher wages and the right to unionize for food and retail workers.

“This place is not safe. It must be closed. It doesn’t need to be running,” said Ciara Fox, Senior Lead of Fight for $15.

CBS 58 reached out to Popeyes. His communications department responded with the following statement:

“The Popeyes restaurants at 2910 Capitol Ave and 6120 Silver Spring Drive are temporarily closed due to infrastructure issues and damage from last week’s storms. These locations will remain closed until all necessary repairs have been completed and team members and guests can once again be welcomed into a safe environment that meets Popeyes standards.”

Zubha Pop Foods, LLC. is the operator of both facilities. The company did not immediately respond to CBS 58’s request for comment.

DNS is also investigating the problems.

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