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December 19th, 2007 WW Editorial Staff | Rogue of the Week
 

Derek Moeller

Bah humbug on Marsee Foods owner

     
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The Christmas tree was aglow, but Santa isn’t stopping at Marsee Baking in Northeast Portland this year.

That’s because this week’s Rogue—Marsee Foods Inc. owner Derek Moeller —announced last week that he’s closing the store and laying off its entire staff of 12, with one week’s notice and no severance pay. Even Scrooge didn’t can Bob Cratchit just before Christmas.

In solidarity with the Marsee workers, the Rogue Desk relocated to Marsee Baking on Sunday, Dec. 16—the last day in business for the decade-old store at Northeast Broadway and 10th Avenue.

The staff kept up its cheer, chatting with regular customers. But there was bitterness underneath. Barista Andrew Klaus says Moeller told employees that getting laid off was a test of character and part of God’s plan for them.

Assistant manager Alia Stearns, who walked out Dec. 12 in protest, shot back. “I am really curious what God’s plan is for someone who lays off 12 people before Christmas,” says Stearns, a 30-year-old single mom. “I don’t think it’s a good plan.”

Moeller did not return repeated phone calls from WW seeking comment. He told The Oregonian in a business brief published last week that he was unable to get an acceptable long-term lease. The former chain’s last remaining retail location in Sellwood will remain open, Moeller told The O .

The group Northwest Veterans for Peace, which has been meeting at the Marsee locale in Northeast every Sunday for more than five years, had no kind words for Moeller’s holiday layoffs on the store’s last day in business. “He’s the Grinch that stole Christmas,” says Army vet Bill Bires.

And may a Roguish wreath be hung upon his head.

 
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