Moon Rabbit, an acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant helmed by Chef Kevin Tien, unexpectedly closed its location on the Wharf in Washington, DC, in May. Local union officials say the move was engineered by the owners of the luxury hotel that houses the restaurant to kill unionizing the hospitality workers there. 
IHG Hotels and Resorts, the developers of the multi-billion hotel project are “desperate to keep the union out of their hotel and did whatever that took, even if it meant parting ways with a star chef, even if it meant disrupting the livelihoods of dozens of workers and their families,” Paul Schwalb, executive secretary and treasurer of Unite Here Local 25 told the Washington Post. Members of the union protested the move, which happened just three weeks after the union filed union election paperwork for food and beverage workers at the hotel. Those hotel employees would have staffed the restaurant.
In a surprising turn, the union announced just weeks after the closure, that the Wharf InterContinental Hotel group voluntarily agreed to recognize its employees’ union after cards are checked—which will include workers from the now-shuttered Moon Rabbit restaurant. 
“Every tactic that they used to try and break support only led to more people joining in the movement,” said Wes Waterhouse, a former Moon Rabbit bartender and server. 
Waterhouse said he believes that the sudden closure created more support for the union drive, adding that hotel workers who had not previously signed a union card did so after the closure. 
“When hospitality workers stand up for their rights and organize together, we win,” said Schwalb.