Cosmopolitan Restaurant had to close Tuesday and Wednesday after staff members walked out.
Twenty-five bartenders, servers and other employees quit and walked out after executive chef Chris Crowl and dining room manager James Allred were fired.
“We were not planning on doing this,” said Mera Debenham, a bartender who walked out but has since returned. “We just decided to walk out as a team, as a family because we felt like the one thing that made Cosmo magical was the staff that worked there.”
Crowl and Allred are partial owners of the Durango restaurant, which has another location in Telluride.
Chad Scothorn, majority shareholder and founder, said Crowl was fired because of disagreements the pair had about how to run the business and “specific performance issues became confrontational.”
The conflict started about a year ago, and it could not be resolved, he said.
Scothorn said Allred quit, but Bobby Duthie, an attorney for Allred, said he also was fired.
Debenham, who said she didn’t know what the conflict was about, returned to work at the restaurant after getting a call from Scothorn.
Scothorn hosted a dinner Wednesday night for all the employees to discuss the walkout and offered to give their jobs back, she said.
About 10 to 15 have accepted the offer, Scothorn said, but he would hire all of them back if they change their minds.
“He’s taking care of the restaurant, but he hasn’t been there or developed a relationship with us the way Chris and James did,” Debenham said. “It was a hard choice for me to make, but … I’d rather go back and give them the chance.”
Scothorn doesn’t plan on staying in Durango to run the restaurant for long.
“My long-term desire is to let local staff run this restaurant because I live in Telluride and that’s where I want to live,” he said.
Crowl declined to comment and referred to his attorney, Duthie.
“Our legal team is trying to contact their legal team, and as yet we have not been able to consider our options,” Duthie said.
The restaurant is hiring eight people to replace those who quit along with seasonal staff for the summer.