Workers Walk Out on Tarnished Remains of Golden Boy

Workers Walk Out on Tarnished Remains of Golden Boy

By Rob Curran

Denton foodworkers continue to take the power back, leaving their customers in equal measures proud and sad.

Golden Boy Coffee, the hippest joint in Denton's hipster scene for a half-decade, appears to have imploded as managers and staff walked off the job en masse early Monday. Staff was reportedly fed up with the business practices of the owners. It's unclear whether Golden Boy, now known as The Never Sleep, will keep its doors open, or rebrand itself again.

Opened in 2018 by Andy Cunningham and Trey Suire on the site of karaoke bar Crossroads just south of University on Elm, Golden Boy quickly distinguished itself with gourmet coffee, a haute mafia black-and-gold decor, a golden cherub statue, and, reportedly, an espresso machine named Dorothy, after one of the characters in Golden Girls. The Denton location recruited baristas as hip as their clientele, who dropped Fugazi and Pavement tunes as they chatted to regulars. Many of the staff were recruited from Denton's glittering LGBTQ community. At one stage, Golden Boy had three locations in the metroplex, but the owners have since closed locations in Coppell and Plano. Post Covid, the business also opened the Gold Room, which hosted some legendary gigs including one by Denton Dad supergroup foreachloop.

The first sign of trouble was an abrupt name change of the Denton location last year to The Never Sleep. You know that you're making a hasty business decision when none of your customers adopt your new name, and shake their heads in dismay when they hear it.

Confusion over motivation for the name change and other factors reportedly caused a lot of tensions behind the scenes between the owners and the staff.

Former store manager Sarah Vaughn has launched a GoFundMe campaign to compensate the staff for lost earnings. As of 7.30 pm on Monday, 127 people had donated a total of $7460, with the campaigners aiming to raise $10,000.

Vaughn cites a wide range of business failings and "a horrendous name change and overall toxic emotional stress" for her decision to leave Golden Boy Coffee/The Never Sleep, on the GoFundMe post. "You may be wondering why we stayed in that environment for so long and the answer is simple: the customers. Through thick and thin y'all have made working there worth all of the back of house stress."

A phone number listed online for Golden Boy and The Never Sleep led to a message saying it was no longer connected.

Andrew Carodine was the general manager for the Gold Room before he quit. He said he'd had enough of the owners' treatment of workers. He vented about the alleged mistreatment in a comment that began "I don’t care anymore."

Efforts to reach Carodine, Vaughn and other former Golden Boy employees were unsuccessful. Efforts to reach founder Andrew Cunningham also didn't pay off."A real community was formed ending in true friendships and support we have never felt before. From the bottom of my heart thank you, it has been a privilege," former manager Vaughn wrote on the GoFundMe page. "Now my crew is extremely talented and capable of landing on their feet but I have to ask for a little more help from the community who has been there with us."

Messages of support include requests for the management and staff to open a new location of their own. A photograph on the GoFundMe page shows a dozen Golden Boy workers, including Vaughn and Carodine.

Unfortunately this is only the most recent in Denton's string of service industry scandals. During the Covid 19 aftermath, Radical Hospitality, the owners of Paschall Bar and Andy's Bar on the square reportedly fired their staff en masse, causing massive ethical dilemmas among some of Denton's heaviest drinking left-wingers (including me). The bars reportedly fired all their workers after a dispute over pay and safety.