Howell restaurant owner sues former employees over critical posts about his business

Adam Merkel says critical comments have cost business

The owner of a well-known Howell restaurant is suing former employees who criticized his business on social media.

HOWELL, Mich. – The owner of a well-known Howell restaurant is suing former employees who criticized his business on social media.

For more than two years, Kristen Kraft tended the bar and trained waitstaff at Howell’s Cello Italian Restaurant.

“I liked my job, my house, my coworkers,” Kraft said.

Adam Merkel is the owner of Cello and a couple of other Howell eateries: the Silver Pig Bar and Oyster Room, and Diamonds Steak and Seafood.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) hit, Merkel laid off his staff. Then, he applied for a virus PPP business loan, got approved and called his staff back.

“It was a very sensitive time and we knew that was going to be the case, so we offered everyone their jobs back, and anyone who couldn’t or didn’t want to, they didn’t have to,” Merkel said.

He said he didn’t fire anyone for refusing to return, but Kraft said that’s not the case.

Out of work, Kraft said she found other former Merkel employees on Facebook. She claims it wasn’t vicious criticism on her part.

Merkel said Kraft and others attacked his business and cost him in a big way. He sued, so Kraft posted the paperwork. A closed Facebook community ensued.

The lawsuit isn’t about money, but more about whether the social media posts end up getting taken down.


About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.