Elon Musk's billionaire brother told his employees that they were part of the family. Until COVID-19 was released.


Workers were informed they were part of a family at Next Door, a community-oriented, "sustainable" restaurant franchise founded by billionaire Kimbal Musk.


Musk is the younger brother of multibillionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk and comes from an affluent family. He is a self-proclaimed philanthropist and restaurateur who is recognized for his characteristic cowboy hat. The Family Fund, however, was established by Next Door employees. The fund was supposed to be a pool of money they donated from their paychecks that would be there for them in times of need.

Then came the crisis. And the Family Fund was nowhere to be seen.

Next Door advised employees on March 16 that it will temporarily shut down operations for two weeks as it dealt with the commercial implications of the coronavirus. Managers were advised that they would have to endure wage cutbacks. Hourly workers would receive no pay at all, despite the fact that they were promised paid sick time, which they never received. According to former staff, many people applied for donations from the Family Fund.

Reggie Moore, the former head chef of the Indianapolis Next Door and one of seven former Next Door employees who talked with HuffPost, described what transpired next as "very dodgy."


The Family Fund was altering five days after the short halt, according to management. "We are in the midst of changing our Family Fund program in order to better assist our employees," states an email sent to employees on March 21 that HuffPost examined.

Employees will receive a $400 stipend within one to two days under the updated program, according to the email. "Please note that if you have already applied to Family Fund, you will need to re-apply through the new application link," there was a catch printed in bold and highlighted.

Employees, on the other hand, were never made aware of the connection. Approximately 100 of them were laid off just two days later, on March 23. In Indianapolis, Memphis, the Cleveland area, and Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Musk closed four of the restaurant's 11 sites.

Some employees were astonished by the timing of the closures, which occurred midway through the "temporary" two-week break. Many people inquired about the Family Fund.


They were advised that this was just for current staff. In an email to one employee in Memphis who inquired about the money, a Next Door human relations official said, "This has always been a rule of the program." "Of course, the closing of these sites has hurt us all, and we are here to help you in any way we can."

Restaurant workers, some of whom earned the tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, received no severance pay. Many employees have not been compensated for unused sick days.

"It's a betrayal," she says. "It appears to be really devious," a former Next Door manager told Huff Post.

"The Americana here gives me goose bumps," said Kimbal Musk, a South African native, when he initially launched his restaurant in Memphis, telling The New York Times. Graceland is a place I've visited twice. It's insane how friendly the community has been."


Former employees in Memphis reported that working at Musk's restaurant was a terrific experience up to the end.

"Next Door was the finest job I've ever had in the culinary sector." "By far," claimed a former back-of-the-house employee, who praised the paid sick leave and teamwork among the employees. He declined to be identified because he was concerned about his privacy.

But how did it end? "Wow, it was chilly." After the incident, he and his partner, who also worked at Next Door, both applied to the Family Fund.

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