Local Coffee Shop Criticized in Online Post

SHS employees respond to Gunther Tooties controversy

Sarah Snow and Bridget Nicolo

Many South Shore residents are aware of the recent controversy surrounding the local coffee shop, Gunther Tooties: a former employee posted a lengthy message criticizing the store’s management and food storage policies. Multiple townspeople have come forward on social media, raising concerns about the freshness of food items, sharing their own stories, and questioning the general cleanliness of the workplace environment. A singular Facebook post led to an entire following, and now a whole community of people has joined together to address this issue. 

In the hopes of preventing false rumors and providing first-hand insight into the controversy, two SHS seniors and current Gunther Tooties employees, Valentine McNeilly and Gabby Walsh, offered some insight into the employee experience at the coffee shop, which is located near the Greenbush train station. 

Walsh began working at Gunther Tooties in June of 2020 and has loved her experience so far. In addition to the friends she’s made, who make it “a really fun, chill work environment,” Walsh said she enjoys the ability to expand upon her love of coffee. She especially likes learning how to make coffee “a bunch of different ways.” Walsh described one of her favorite aspects of the job–forming relationships with the customers: “I love seeing the regulars–and their dogs–and being able to remember their orders.”

Regarding the recent Facebook post, Walsh finds it frustrating that everyone jumped to conclusions about the business so quickly after the online criticisms were released: “I don’t want people to have unnecessary fear about concerns that, if true, I would also be reasonably upset about.”

Since the controversy started, Walsh and others have experienced a drastic shift in their work environment. Business, she says, has been significantly slower, and “tips have slowed down quite a bit.”

A long-time friend of Walsh, Valentine McNeilly, shared many of the same sentiments, having for the most part only good things to say. McNeilly started working at the coffee shop in March of 2021 after Walsh encouraged her to apply for the job. She remarked that her manager is “very good” to them and is “always helping us out.” Recently, the manager has offered to drive Walsh to opening shifts because Walsh’s car was totaled in a car accident. (Walsh was not injured in the accident.) McNeilly described the environment as being “very worker-friendly.” Her only real complaint is “the shortage of workers on the weekdays,” which causes, their “extremely busy chef to also take on the role of barista when there is a shortage of weekday employees.” It appears that other than her wish for more full-time workers, McNeilly’s experience as a worker has been a positive one.

When asked to speak on the recent controversy, McNeilly stated, “Almost all of it is untrue.” She disagrees with the concerns that were posted on Facebook, describing the environment as “a very sanitary establishment with fresh and healthy foods.” Recently, the store had a representative from the Board of Health conduct an inspection, and McNeilly noted, “the kitchen passed easily.” Still, in light of the recent Facebook activity, McNeilly commented, “Gunther Tooties Scituate has been very slow, which is unfortunate, as we work for tips.”

Even in such a small town, this situation is a glaring example of how easy it is for online posts to escalate to an entire community of concern, backed with very few concrete truths. Unfortunately, in this circumstance, the direct consequences seem to be affecting high school-aged employees, like Walsh and McNeilly, as they facing significant tip shortages.