Recent layoffs and walkouts at the popular downtown bar John Henry’s have people asking several questions: Is the new management getting rid of the old John Henry’s? Will John Henry’s change its name? Will G.L.A.M. Nights continue?
Danny Peterson, Tyler Boggs and J. Coburn Damon are some of the former John Henry’s managers, bartenders and emcees who were let go in early April, two days after several staff members returned from Mexico where Damon was getting married. Peterson says he got a call from one of John Henry’s owners, Brian De Bos, on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 2.
“He said, ‘OK. We’ll let you go. There’s no apparent reason, so go ahead and collect unemployment. It’s not because of your work or anything like that; we just figured it’s time,’” Peterson says. Peterson says that De Bos then asked him to tell Boggs and Damon that they were no longer employed and could also collect unemployment. “So I got fired and then I had to fire two of my best friends,” he says.
He adds that De Bos wanted to have a comfortable transition for the new management. “The impression I got managing was that they want it to be a really, really New York, L.A. upscale nightclub,” he says. “John Henry’s could definitely use a facelift,” but, he adds, after years of working in the industry, he doesn’t think there’s a big enough market for an upscale venue like that.
Damon says they are putting the pressure on the new ownership, Traxler Inc., to change the name — a request that’s echoed on the “John Henry’s Boycott” Facebook group page that now has over 1,100 members. EW has been told that JH may change its name to 77 Broadway, which is the name incorporated by Traxler on Sept. 18, 2012.
And the bimonthly G.L.A.M. nights? “It’s been a heck of mess and I miss my friends deeply,” host Diva-Simone Slaughter says. “G.L.A.M. will remain at 77 Broadway for now.”
De Bos had no comments on the issue on the record. — Alex Notman