Akron restaurant owner pulls out of solo shift after Gayland Walker protests turn frantic

Akron, Ohio (WOIO) – When Eddie Sutter’s workers told him they were “uncomfortable” when coming to work on Tuesday, he supported them and still turned up, covering all shifts and doing work alone.

“I didn’t really know what I was going to do about the situation, but I knew I had to be here anyway for various reasons,” Sutter said. “Sunday night is the night they decided to go from calm to no peace,” he said.

Protests over Akron police officers’ killing of 25-year-old black man Gayland Walker turned into controversy over the weekend.

Some businesses were closed after being damaged by vandals.

19 news cameras were rolling as several businesses in downtown Akron climbed to their windows in preparation for more protests.

Owner Eddie’s Famous Cheesesteaks & Grille opens even though stores are closed in downtown Akron. The owner, Eddie Sutter, worked a one-on-one shift after employees called out to work due to safety concerns.(WOIO-TV)

But Eddie’s famous Cheesesteaks and Grille has kept track.

Owner Eddie's Famous Cheesesteaks & Grille opens despite downtown business closing...
Owner Eddie’s Famous Cheesesteaks & Grille opens even though stores are closed in downtown Akron. The owner, Eddie Sutter, worked a one-on-one shift after employees called out to work due to safety concerns.(WOIO-TV)

“I’m a small business, the bills don’t stop, you still have to pay rent, you still have to pay utilities, you still have to pay your employees so I don’t have the luxury of just shutting down,” Sutter said. “The last thing I would do,” he said, “is to get anyone into a situation where they are uncomfortable, I mean, I value my employees, I need my employees.”

The restaurant was packed during lunch hours on Tuesday, and several told 19 News that they tip their hats to Eddie for working through the challenges.

“I mean it’s impressive. I’ve been working in a shop like this and that’s hard work,” said Josh Hemp, a customer.

Sutter said he does it for his loyal customers, but he also wants to send a message.

“Downtown Akron is very safe, the situation this weekend is not indicative of Downtown Akron and we all definitely need the City of Akron and beyond to get through all of this,” he said. “Pray for the city, pray for the city, pray for us to bounce.” Sutter said.

The downtown Akron curfew will be in effect Tuesday from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. Wednesday, when it will be lifted.

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