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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 06, 2011 12:37AM


The Engelharts opened the first Café Gratitude in the Mission district in 2004, largely to promote their positive-thinking board game — imagining “a transformational gaming parlor” that would serve coffee and desserts. But shortly before they made good on that plan, they fell in love with raw food.

“There was a demand for that kind of food,” Engelhart said.




Café Gratitude Shutdown Prompts Jeers as Well as Tears
Restaurants' quintessentially Bay Area ambience did not please all

By Reyhan Harmanci on December 3, 2011 - 12:04 p.m. PST

Cafe Gratitude's San Francisco outpost.
When Matthew and Terces Engelhart, owners of the Café Gratitude raw-food chain, announced on Facebook last week that they would close all eight of their Northern California restaurants, the public’s response was passionate — and polarized.

“I am SO GRATEFUL for your existence,” offered Nancy Reyering on the restaurant’s fan page. “You are a temple for the body, mind, and soul.”

In another thread, Rob Hall wrote, “I’m expecting the others who take your place to do a lot better, in terms of affordability, accessibility and not having to translate everything into Gratitude Speak.”

It makes sense that locals would not miss the chance to hold forth. Café Gratitude has offered a dining experience that typifies either the best or the worst of the Bay Area: an ambience steeped in progressive, spiritually minded, yoga-infused, animal-free, hippie-dippy culture.

The fuzzy feelings were not shared by at least two employees, who have sued the restaurant. Because of the lawsuits, one claiming unfair distribution of tips, the Engelharts say they cannot afford to stay in business, although they proclaimed on their website that “our policies are completely legal.”

One of the most notable elements of the Gratitude formula is its lexicon. Every item on the menu is an affirmation that begins “I am” — making ordering something of a production. “I am Fulfilled” is a salad, for instance, and “I am Complete” is a Mediterranean plate. Seating is largely communal, bringing smiles and hugs and a close proximity not welcomed by every diner.

The food is not cheap. That “I am Complete,” for example, is a $14 hummus and falafel spread.

Engelhart, reached by phone, readily acknowledged the split reaction to the news, citing the cafe’s unique mixture of “the spiritual and the commercial.”

“Do you know who Deepak Chopra is?” he asked, referring to the self-help guru, before quoting from correspondence with his daughter. “She said, ‘I don’t know what you guys are doing but the fact that there’s so much passion for you, one way or the other, means you’re doing something great.’”

The Engelharts opened the first Café Gratitude in the Mission district in 2004, largely to promote their positive-thinking board game — imagining “a transformational gaming parlor” that would serve coffee and desserts. But shortly before they made good on that plan, they fell in love with raw food.

“There was a demand for that kind of food,” Engelhart said.

In 2005, the company expanded to the East Bay, and finally had nine sites across California, including a spinoff in San Francisco, Gracias Madre, that served vegan (but not raw) Mexican. All but the Los Angeles restaurant, which has become a magnet for Hollywood celebrities, will be shut upon each location’s sale.

Amid all the gnashing of teeth (“I am Sad”) and outright glee (“I am Amused”) evinced this week on Facebook and elsewhere, some diners charted a middle ground.

Laura Beck, founding editor of Vegansaurus, a vegan-focused website, said she found that the downsides to eating at Café Gratitude were offset by the good food. “I give myself up to it when I go,” Beck said, “Just say, ‘I am beautiful,’ ‘I am a goddess,’ whatever.”

This article also appears in the Bay Area edition of The New York Times.

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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 06, 2011 12:39AM

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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 06, 2011 12:49AM

You're free to leave at any time...just tell us why."

"We are not going to force you, but what is your resistance to Landmark? ... What do you have to lose? Lean into that discomfort and see where you can grow."



Damn you WOM for linking to that before I could. \

Similarly to Lululemon and the Landmark Forum, there's a vegan/raw food restaurant called Cafe Gratitude that started in the Bay Area and which recently opened in LA. They've also required their managers, and strongly encouraged their staff, to attend the Landmark courses, which the restaurant makes their employees pay for.

But when Ritter was promoted to management, she received a contract that recommended she attend Landmark Forum. Because it was "recommended," Ritter didn't think it was mandatory. In fact, part of the reason she said she wanted to become a manager was to be a voice for some of the employees who, like her, were not entirely enthusiastic about Landmark.

After being promoted, Ritter says her first manager's meeting involved managers sharing their experiences at Landmark — often emotionally explaining the ways in which it changed their lives. "It was the theme," she said. "'Landmark saved my life.'"

According to Ritter, the leaders of the meeting then asked every manager to enroll ten people to come to an introduction to Landmark. They didn't say it was a required part of the job, but Ritter felt pressured to attend because they asked all managers to e-mail the district manager every time they spoke to an employee who had not attended Landmark about giving it a try. She said they encouraged managers to keep track of the people they talked to, even if they declined the invitation.

Ritter told her higher-ups that she didn't want to attend Landmark. According to her, they responded by saying, "We are not going to force you, but what is your resistance to Landmark? ... What do you have to lose? Lean into that discomfort and see where you can grow."

Creepy. Reminds me of the Movementarians--"you're free to leave at any time...just tell us why."


Last Edit: 18-11-2011 21:04 By Incandenza

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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: December 06, 2011 06:42PM

The 'hippy dippy' vibe reminds me of an Eagles song from my misspent youth:


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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 08, 2012 06:45AM

Cafe Gratitude has apparently settled its lawsuits, and after an overly dramatic woe-is-us hubbub in November, now they are saying that some branches will stay open and others will close (the Cupertino one closed a few weeks back). So, yeah…



Café Gratitude’s legal woes stemming from lawsuits brought by former employees have been resolved—what exactly that means for any of the parties involved, they aren’t saying.

In November, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, owners of the chain of raw, vegan restaurants announced that they would shutter restaurants due to the financial strain of defending two lawsuits brought by restaurant employees that alleged illegal tip pooling and inappropriate pay designations, among other things. There are seven Café Gratitude locations in the Bay Area, including vegan Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre, and an eighth location in Los Angeles that is popular with the Hollywood set.

According to Stephen Sommers, the lawyer for former employees Sarah Stevens and Ravi Shankar, the “matter has been settled” and he is not allowed to discuss the terms.

Matthew Engelhart echoed Sommers' statement.

So, will the restaurants remain open?

“Some will close and some will stay open,” Engelhart said.

Engelhart said that he was feeling relieved following the resolution, and that looking forward, he would be focusing on business in Southern California, “where the real action is.”

Source: The Bay Citizen (

From the Cafe Gratitude website

WE ARE OPEN! To our community,
It is with much relief and happiness that we announce the continuation of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre serving love at our Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Gracias Madre locations.
Our Central Kitchen, Healdsburg, San Rafael, and Harrison street cafes are still on the market. Our Oakland café is closing on February 28th. We will announce all closures on our website as they are confirmed. Until then, please allow us to serve you at these locations.




Thank you all for your support. We have resolved the lawsuits and are currently looking at the best possible future for our company. We will let you know more as choices are made. Happy New Year!

Matthew and Terces

Donate to the legal defense fund here!

Legal defense fund page


Dear Community,

Thank you for your outpouring of love and support over the last few weeks,as we navigate these lawsuits.

All my life I’ve known I would have a George Bailey moment and I think it has arrived. George is a community banker in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” who spends his life building community without much care for making money.In the climax, an employee loses bank funds and a Christmas Eve audit sends George into despair with the threat of prison and humiliation. In the eleventh hour the community passes the laundry basket and George gets his biggest asset, is his community. I cry every time I see that scene.

Our movie looks like this. The plaintiffs’ attorney is incredulous that there is not a pile of money somewhere to extract. He is now trying to depose Be Love Farm, to prove it is not a separate entity from Café Gratitude. This claim is nonsense and desperate but will take even more resources to defend. With the greatest of humility we are willing to accept your requests for contributing to our cause, we are present to and appreciative of the power of our community. You may be sure that Terces and I have always and will continue to persevere for the awakening of love; it doesn’t always look like we thought it would. Thank you for your offers. It really is a wonderful life.

Your payment receipt will read dreamdrummer1215(@), account of Marta Macbeth, personal assistant to Matthew and Terces.

Please know that we are not a registered nonprofit nor are your contributions tax deductible. Click here for ways that you can support Cafe Gratitude.

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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 25, 2012 10:29PM

"An Executive Development Seminar" "Project Formulation" "Special Evening" "Breakthrough 200" -quoted from below

(note: Some quite helpful programs unaffiliated with Landmark may go by these names. Nevetheless, even if told by a boss or supervisor or trusted friend to go to a multiday seminar that you are told nothing else about - fact check first. Anyone who does not want to be yelled at, shamed, and deprived of sleep has every right to stay away from this kind of stuff. Just read the survivor reports below.

If you go into the armed forces, you do not pay them. They actually pay you a salary.

You are not accepted into the armed forces unless you pass the physical and psychological exams.

If you are accepted for boot, worm or maggot camp, you are put through the grinder. But..if you are injured during basic training, you do get medical care, because the service accepts responsiblity for your physical well being while in their custody. (Whatta concept!)

And you can learn before hand what basic training consists of. It isnt the same as embodied experience of basic training. The active duty people and the veterans will empasize that.

But you can get information and decide beforehand if being in the service is for you. Veterans willgladly tell you about basic traing tell you. These days, websites are available.

Even the quite secretive Navy Seals have an online forum where interested applicants can learn how to train themselves so they stand a chance of qualifying for BUDS/UDT training.

All this is different from Landmark, where you will not be told what you're in for.


One of the comments:


"I want to thank you for a most informative website. I was hired by a company and unbeknownst to me, everyone but myself and one other person, were Landmark people. We later left, because we both are very strong people and refused to go to the Forum. I am just amazed at what took place and how this all happened within a successful company with very well-educated and socially astute people. Games were played and the people were hurt, which can suck the life out of a company."


Visitor's comments on Landmark Education


Landmark Education Visitor Comments

"A friend signed me up for the Landmark Forum. She said it changed her life. I attended last Friday (8/3/12) and walked out at the second break after about 5 hours.

I was appalled at their tactics. I am still in disbelief that others didn't see through their smoke screen and leave as well.

They said we couldn't take notes and then scolded some of the participants publicly who were. Then, the leader said if you don't follow the ground rules, you must have a personal issue with authority (an amazing manipulative argument, making someone else the problem - and keeping you from logically doubting their ludicrous tactics).

What type of education seminar forbids you from taking notes?

These people are masters of control. I saw it early on when they were humiliating people at the microphone as well, shortly before the second break. Besides that, there was no water in the room.

The leader lost her cool when a participant moved their chair and she publicly lashed her for doing that and told her to move it back. How odd.

**(See the discussion thread on this message board, 'Manipulating the Room Environment' - Corboy

The leader also rudely scolded one of her staff members in front of everyone - she said "watch the door" because "someone just left!" Then, all of the sudden, she got that sweet smile on her face - she must have caught herself...a little too late since we all noticed she had a facade. They repeated several times not to leave and had to attend the seminar through to the end on Tuesday night

What kind of program has to convince participants not to leave? RED FLAG. I can't imagine these things going on at any seminar or educational institute. All I can say is I'm glad I left before they messed with my mind. I feel sorry for people who aren't educated enough to see through their game."

"What a great site! Very informative. A few months ago I fell in love with a Landie, little did I know. I did the Forum & the Advanced Course. And I even signed up for SELP. I think I'm going to kiss that money goodbye & regard it as investment in my own 'education.' Wow. The day after the Advanced Course my beloved announced that she was breaking up with me. Ouch. And thank you.

I surmise that real emotional intimacy just wasn't as exciting as declaring 'possibilities' and getting high on Landmark. I'm now rebuilding my life around what I used to know and love. It was pretty damn good! And will be again. '

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom' - William Blake."

"Wow am I glad I saw your website! After being invited for over a year (by my old college pastor) to a Landmark information session, I begrudgingly agreed to attend to make her happy.

Every time she tried to get me to go, I thankfully had something going on where I couldn't attend and plus, it sounded really fishy! I received a phone call last week from her where she gave me three options for times that we could attend. So I gave in.

I knew this was important to her and wanted to make her happy by attending the info session. I gave a fake address, fake telephone number and removed all of my credit cards, cash & check book from my purse before attending because it sounded very scam-like. I can see how fragile people would fall into the trap of these seminars. It's common sense wrapped in a pretty package! I feel sorry for the people who actually are throwing away their money to Landmark, and especially my pastor. She is only working on a part-time basis yet still has found money to continue on with her education with Landmark! I am thankful for my level-handedness and ability to see through this marketing ploy."

"I recently attended the Landmark Forum. I was surprised at how quickly people 'popped' and bought into the program and were ready to bring others into a program that didn't seem to amount to much at all. At the end of one exercise, I asked if there were any academic studies that verified the previous session and was reminded that during the introduction 'We told you that nothing we say is true' so maybe this isn't true either. I walked out and went to a movie. Best thing I ever did. Landmark is running a racket."

"As a survivor of the destructive E.S.T. and Forum, I applaud you for showing the world what a horrible and deceptive bunch of creeps these people are. I am going to post my story about the damage Warner Erhard did to my life.

In short, he ruined it. I was abused as a child at home by my parents who attended this training. They forced me to raise myself, and they told me that I created all the bad things that happened to me.

They in essence were programmed to believe that they didn't have to raise me because I was already a grown human being who was responsible for all my actions and tragedies. E.S.T. destroyed my life in so many ways. If I could save one person from these people, I would. I wish they would be put out of business. The children are the saddest victims because they don't get a choice in the matter. I hope these people rot in hell. I know those are strong words, but it is the nicest thing I can say about them. The world needs to know the truth about this cult."

"I attended the Landmark Forum last weekend and tonight was the evening that I was suppose to bring a guest to join. As the day went on, I could not help replaying a couple of scenes in my head that would be described as abuse in any other situation.

Needless to say, as the day wore on, I decided to end my forum and not go to the last session tonight. When I attended the Forum, I sat in my chair and was appalled at the Leader who called this 37-year-old woman a 'brat' and to 'grow up' in front of 109 people as she stood there at the microphone talking about her dead father, and her mothers new boyfriend.

As the leader reamed her from every direction, she took it and completely fell apart crying. He later told her that she had no hope and that he could not coach her. She courageously responded, 'Then I want another coach.' He continuously shamed her for almost 40 minutes.

It was ridiculous. What was even more ridiculous was that I sat and watched it. I told my girlfriend (who introduced me to the Forum and is still going on her third seminar) that in any other situation, we would consider his name calling, shaming, and demeaning behavior ABUSIVE.

He told another man, 'You are a loser, just like your father,' who happened to be an alcoholic and had obviously done much to create pain for this young man. He told this young man that he was a JERK and to call his father on his next break and take responsibility for being a jerk. While I understand that we need to 'take responsibility' for our lives, the measures that this organization uses are no less than mean, demeaning, and without meaning. If you are wondering if the Landmark Forum is for you. Consider that 'you are not you, you are just a machine,' and 'the meaning of life is meaningless.' 'Then you die and they throw dirt over your face.' I am glad that I had a gut feeling to not continue this nonsense anymore.

Now that I have read your page, I know I can expect some harassing phone calls probably tomorrow. When they ask me why I am not continuing the Landmark Forum, I will use their answer. I am not continuing the Landmark Forum because I am not continuing the Landmark Forum. So in Landmark Lingo, they will only get a choice' answer from me. Not a 'decision' answer, which always gives a reason for why we are not doing something. When they start to give me feedback, I will tell them, those are your 'rackets' talking. Why can they have an opinion, if we can't? It goes both ways."

"I attended a Landmark session and it led me to contact an abusive brother who despises me. I endured one and a half hours of devastating abuse from him as I apologised thanks to my Landmark brainwashing.

Afterwards I was disoriented, but was lucky enough to have a boyfriend who came and collected me, where I stood lost on the street in a very familiar city. I wanted to walk out under a bus.

When he got me back to the hotel I broke. All I wanted was to kill myself, though out of moral duty was willing to go to a mental hospital for the rest of my life instead. I had signed up for the advanced course, but in fairness Landmark agreed to refund my deposit for that, though I haven't seen the money yet. Thanks to wonderful friends and your website I'm OK now (I think). It's a total scam, and potentially life-threatening."

"I was so taken back and grateful for your website I had to share my own experience about a previous friend who attended the Landmark Forum...This was someone I spoke to several times daily and after the first 3 hours of the seminar never heard from her is hard to know someone one day and them be a stranger the next. [She dropped]...all of her friends (including me) by writing a letter entailing how we had nothing in common anymore...not good for the 'new me'...type of thing. It was then followed by an email that stated just the opposite...'never forget the good times'...'love you'....etc...The ultimate deception was a concert that the two of us had planned to attend for my birthday just two weeks away. She stated in the letter (not face to face) that she was keeping my ticket and my money...Guess she needed it to pay for more classes...The sad part is...she is still the same person...only ignorant to those who really did love and care about her."

"I just dropped out of a Landmark Forum after 1.2 days. I was appalled by the controlling, manipulative conduct of the facilitator and his volunteers. I was followed to the bathroom by three people yesterday and berated for sending a text message. I left early and a 'see the program coordinator' note was on my file. I was very concerned when we were told not to write anything down and with the length of the Forum. 13.5 hours would leave someone vulnerable with exhaustion. I've likely lost $550 learning the hardway. I should have done more research, but I'm glad to know that this information IS out there if someone wants to look."

"In December of 2006 I attended landmark forum due to a VERY persistent friend who kept repeating 'do you trust me? Just ignore what it says on the internet. You don’t know those people but you know me and I wouldn’t get you mixed up in something that would harm you in any way. This experience will change your life.'

Well, after weeks of this (and I was ready for a change in my life) I felt 'what the heck' it can’t be that bad.


I am no longer friends with this person and I regret taking the forum. I keep recalling the last day when they practically forced everyone in the room to take out their credit cards, check books or cash to sign guests up for a future forum date and those who already took the forum were urged to sign up for the advanced class.

I realized that it was a money-making scam and never took the free seminars or advanced class. They repeatedly called me asking me to give my deposit and to fax my information form. I’m grateful that I never got my family or friends involved. I regret wasting $440.00 on this sham."

"I am sending you a huge THANK YOU for your website and all your work! I recently attended the Landmark Forum and it was awful. Coming out of the experience, it was relieving to read what I knew inside: There is something terribly wrong here. The articles in your database accurately described the program, which has some incontrovertible good points that come at an enormous price -- emotionally, spiritually and financially."

"I wish that I had read your stories before I went to the Forum about four years ago. I was referred to it by a trusted professor who claimed she had a good experience with it.

Although I had a history of mild depression, I never had experienced any type of psychosis. After becoming completely absorbed in the process, I became hypomanic. It began the most terrible period of my life. Thankfully my friends intervened and prevented me from returning to future Landmark functions. I became highly anxious and eventually went on an anti-depressant, which led to a full blown manic episode, requiring me to be hospitalized. I have had no hypomanic or manic episodes since that time. It was a terrible experience, and this chain of events was started by my participation in the Forum."

"I lost one of my closest friends to Landmark. She was one of the last people I would have ever expected to join a cult-like organization. She was a member of the leadership of my Jewish havurah (a prayer and study group), was warm-hearted, had a strong sense of humor, much common sense and was very tolerant. One day she mentioned that she was going to attend an 'executive development seminar.' I tried to point out Landmark's 'commandments' are not compatible with Torah Judaism. Another friend warned her about Landmark, but our buddy wouldn't listen to us. She said she 'could take care of herself.' I noticed a change in her soon afterwards. She began doing very odd things as 'homework projects' for Landmark. She also became highly critical of other people, but would not listen to any criticism of Landmark. She acquired new Landmark friends. It was like I was talking to someone else near the end, a cold, critical stranger, instead of my warm-hearted friend. Landmark encouraged her to spend time and money on courses, and to train for 'leadership.' By the end of our friendship she had no time for anything else. I was heartbroken, we were friends over 10 years. I have lost friends before in my lifetime, but never in this manner. If I can keep one Jew out of Landmark, that will make me happy."

"I have been told to do this Landmark Forum for self-development by my supervisor in my last performance review. I had a brief encounter with it many years ago as some co-workers did it. One of whom left her fiancé and married a Forum leader in the short space of three weeks. I have found out that my manager, other management, staff and others within the company have all done this training. For months I've been hearing things like 'honoring your integrity,' 'being authentic' and 'commitment.' The pressure put on us all to go and do this Forum is immense. I feel that my job will be threatened if I don't do it."

"My first experience with Landmark was through a man I dated who took me to the Forum. I sat through several hours with him and when they wanted to break us up into groups we snuck out. In 2004 I met a great guy, but he kept using words like 'amazing,' 'incredible' and he said that he had all these 'remarkable breakthroughs.' Eventually he told me that he was involved with Landmark. This guy doesn't make much money, but what he does has he spends on Landmark. And he's a volunteer on the phone, always talking to coaches and doing 'homework' He kept telling me how Landmark had helped him, but I sure didn't see any breakthroughs. His issues with his mother were not really resolved. People don't resolve an issue over night--that's BS. he was vague about what they do at Landmark and never give me a straight answer. Once he gave me word for word description of one course I found out later came right from their literature, without using his own words. It's sad that people can get so sucked in and don't even realize it. I broke off the relationship. These courses that were supposed to help him to communicate, but instead made him closed-minded."

"I took the Forum and a Landmark communication course, but didn't like my experiences there. I thought it was positively sinister the way this organization used manipulation and group peer pressure. Gathering more adherents seemed to be their r'aison d'etre,' after all it's a business. I resisted "bringing guests," everyone I knew had already been through it, got whatever they got from it, and were not interested in paying for more. Landmark has an awful lot of unpaid volunteers to man its courses and run the centers. Seems like this is a great way to get rich off of volunteer stiffs. I believe that there is something rotten in this Denmark."

"I've enjoyed reading your website, especially about Landmark. My husband was involved with Landmark for 2 years and it was hell getting him out. Landmark was the ONLY thing that has ever threatened our strong marriage, and thank God it is behind us now."

"I recently attended the Landmark Forum and then began the series of ten seminars as a follow-up to the Forum. The seminars became increasingly upsetting and reading some of the accounts on your website have clarified why. I feel reassured that what I have witnessed others have also witnessed. Last night, while attempting to discuss with my seminar leader the hard sell tactics used by Landmark I was scolded for my 'racket' and 'not getting off it.' Then I was attacked for not owning up to some ancient hurt that kept me from being truly complete, human, blah, blah, blah. I am so sorry I fell for this scam! The Landmark Forum pretends to be concerned for people, but they are inauthentic! I hope more people will find and read your website before signing on to this scheme."

"I've been active with Landmark a program leader and participant for years. I recently terminated my participation due to some very negative, abusive experiences in 'coaching' sessions with senior program leaders, 'committed' to me having a breakthrough by being 'effective' at sharing the Forum with people in my life and at guest events. Unfortunately, like many others, I had to find out the hard way that the nasty history of this organization has not disappeared. I experienced firsthand what it was like inside the rotten, ugly underbelly and of this organization. People are demeaned, invalidated, and dismissed for expressing a viewpoint that isn't consistent with the 'distinctions.' Where one day you are golden because you registered three people in a room of five, but the next you're ineffective pond scum, because no one in the room registered. I'm definitely on the pathway to resolving all of the negative, invalidating and abusive experiences and look forward to moving on as an individual with my close circle of supportive friends and family."

"I am so glad that you have this site about Landmark Education. I completely lost my Mom to Landmark and now after 20 years of marriage she is divorcing my Dad, convinced that she never loved him. Dad explains that Mom is not the same person that she used to be. Like so many other people out there fighting for their loved ones, we are hoping and praying that one day my Mom will see the truth. I believe that I was not sucked in because of my faith."

"Thank you for the great service you do by warning people of the dangers of Landmark and by giving them the information that Landmark doesn't want them to read."

"I just did it and actually had a powerful experience, but was really turned off by the constant push to enroll others. About a third of my session in the seminar series was devoted to this. Special coaching was set up to be better at enrolling others. I dared to complain about this respectfully and in private. Then a seminar leader called and told me that I would no longer be participating. They don't like questions and can always turn it back on you, how it's really your 'racket.' It's too bad, because there are some useful things in the course. But I am definitely not giving any more money to Landmark."

"Thanks for the website. It is a valuable portal for information on a variety of questionable organizations, including Landmark Education. I wish your website was up and running years ago before I wasted both my time and money. It kind of sickens me that I financially sponsored such an organization."

"Your website has really hit a nerve. Several years ago my wife and I went through the Forum. We had been invited by close friends and did it only at their urging. We sat back and watched what was going on, but were careful each evening to discuss it with each other. After a session that most of the people were wailing and rolling around on the floor like an 'Ole South' tent revival, we noted others that were not so affected and migrated to them. It seems the best way to survive one of these events is to be remarkably unremarkable. I believe that the Forum can be dangerous for people in a fragile mental state. My wife and I are fortunate we had each other and later a few others that 'got it.' Everyone was smiling sappily so I put on a sappy grin and then someone came up and congratulated me on completing the Forum. Now that should have been a red flag."

"Thank you for making an effort to provide information about Landmark Education. I just completed the Forum in Melbourne, Australia and feel really pissed off by the faulty logic, wrong techniques and absolute lack of integrity of this 'curriculum.' Sadly I didn't have anyone to debrief me. I would have remained confused, baffled and unsure, but thankfully there is some valid information such as what you provide, which has helped me to see this crap for what it is."

"I almost bought into it. My girlfriend was using all these appealing descriptions, but when I asked her to be more precise, she couldn't do it. It seems like she was taken in by all the group support, though she claims she has not attended a seminar in at least a year. However, she 'enjoys' being around graduates because they are so 'empowered.' My experience with Lifespring 20 years ago made me more that a little suspicious. When I brought up Lifespring, my girlfriend said it probably was not the same. But Lifespring graduates use a similar jargon, emotional approach, same room set up and rigorous schedule, which seems designed to break down your barriers/defenses. Why do so many people think it is so great?"

"I took the Forum nearly 8 years ago due to the encouragement of a friend and because did see positive changes in him after taking the advanced class. I did receive some information that was useful, but I did not find it the 'life changing' experience that my friend did. At graduation I refused to sign up for the advanced course, even under high pressure from the volunteers. I have never regretted my decision to drop out of Landmark."

"I completed the Landmark Forum. My Forum leader told me it is not possible to 'get it' without doing their exercises. However, it is obvious that the wisdom they try to impart can be achieved through many different paths. Unfortunately, lots of people will not be able to discern this. Landmark is largely run by volunteers and few paid staff. It seems like a 'racket' and its ultimate purpose appears to be helping itself rather than helping people."

"I attended a Landmark Forum and am now dedicated to spreading the word that this is nothing more than a cobbled-up bunch of stolen philosophies available at your closest university for a lot less than $375. I endured days of physical and emotional discomfort, which can't be good for the truly mentally damaged and fragile people in attendance. It was all wrapped up in constant sales pitches, not unlike a timeshare seminar. Landmark Forum is successful because there are always people out there who will 'take another man's bet.' Think for yourself."

"I completed the Forum, and then the Advanced Class 3 weeks ago. Ever since then my life has been a wreck. I literally don't know a thing about who I am. It feels as if my identity has been stripped, redesigned with meaningless jargon, 'set free to create possibilities' and all that crap."

"I recently left the love of my life who adopted Landmark like a new religion. It was very simple. I love him, but he is not healthy for me, so I moved on. No course needed for that. After taking Landmark he phoned manically ecstatic with his new found freedom of expression. He dumped all over me about the times when he was 'inauthentic.' He will ask me to do the course and I will say No. These people kind of freak me out."

"I'm convinced that Landmark contributed to the end of my marriage. Although it initially helped my ex get out of psychotherapy, it was basically just a form of self-therapy. He was addicted to analysis. When he felt he had problems with our marriage, he took them to his people at Landmark instead of talking to me. They helped him to decide he needed a divorce. The only person he would accept as a counselor was a Landmark 'coach,' who was not a licensed marriage counselor. I took Landmark courses myself largely for the sake of my marriage. The best thing about my divorce is not having to take any more! I gave them an earful every time one of those Landmark zombies called trying to get me back into the fold. So now I'm on their 'don't-call list.' I call them 'Landmark Nazis.'"

"I just attended the Landmark Forum. My boss paid for it and I went to check it out. I ended up leaving on the third day about 10 AM. The volunteers were so disappointed and they made it difficult for me to leave the building. I told them that this isn't for me and it goes against my Christian beliefs. They said, 'That's a racket.' I told them in their language, 'Could you be open to the possibility that I am extraordinary and that I do not need this in my life.' They said that that was 'crap' too. I left and went back to my hotel only to receive a phone call from some lady at the Forum. I told her that I wrote on my registration sheet never to call me, and hung up on her. I was in fear for the remainder of that day. Thank God I found your site."

"I am so glad to have found your site. I participated in the Forum and the Advanced course, but have now let them know, in no uncertain terms, that further phone contact with me will be regarded as harassment. I took part with an open mind, after all, I paid a stiff price. But I suspect that some of the testimonials within the programs were plants. A bit like 'healings' in some church revivals. Landmark is like a pressure cooker, weird and dangerous!"

"Landmark Education seems to have spent a lot of energy and money to prove that it does not fit the definition of a cult. The fact that they felt it was necessary to make such an effort should send red flags up! But what about an examination of how Landmark actually runs, its processes and principles? The function of a seminar leader should be to encourage critical thinking amongst participants. However, this is not apparent at Landmark seminars. Instead, Landmark's programs seems to narrow the focus upon the leader, who assumes strict control, which clearly does not encourage free thought."

"The Forum Leader spent 6-8 hours on the introduction. All about how we could have a better life if only we completed the Forum and attended more Advanced Forum classes. It seemed very fishy that before any real information was revealed people were airing their personal dirty laundry. I suspect some were plants. They twisted the English language. Why not just use words that actually describe what you mean? Every time new jargon was introduced the leader took time to describe its meaning. They spend too much time teaching their new language and literally talking in circles. By the time I decided this seminar had absolutely no value, it was dinner time. I planned to leave after the first dinner break, but felt the responsibility to inform one of the volunteers. This was a bad idea. I should have just left. She spent more than an hour trying to manipulate me into staying. I remained for the rest of that evening, which only strengthened my resolve to not come back. Landmark people still called my house trying to get me to come back. Hopefully they will give up."

"Last month a good friend of my family was talking about how much her life changed after attending Landmark Education. She explained to me how it could benefit me and my career. I became interested. However, something in the back of my head made me a bit skeptical. I attended an orientation with her. Almost immediately I was brought into another room with a volunteer. I started asking questions about what the program was based upon, the founder, its beliefs etc. My questions were not answered, but at the end I still almost signed up. I went on the Internet and came across all of the articles. Thank you so much for being such a responsible member of society and keeping people informed. I don't consider myself a weak person, but I almost fell victim."

"I want to thank you for a most informative website. I was hired by a company and unbeknownst to me, everyone but myself and one other person, were Landmark people. We later left, because we both are very strong people and refused to go to the Forum. I am just amazed at what took place and how this all happened within a successful company with very well-educated and socially astute people. Games were played and the people were hurt, which can suck the life out of a company."

"I keep revisiting your web page to read about Landmark. I completed the Forum and felt the initial high, but then crashed. Your web site is helping me tremendously."

"My good friend badgered me for two years about this fabulous course. I went to the introduction out of curiosity, then agreed to go if he would pay me back if I got nothing out of it. After the first day of torture I called my mum and dad and told them I loved them and managed to shake off the past. By the third day I felt complete and ready to get on with my life. When I expressed this to a course helper she became very hostile. I then began to rebel and questioned things. I noticed how the seating was being re-arranged to disguise that people were dropping out. The bullying, humiliation, terminology and twisted words were confusing. I saw inconsistencies and contradictions in what was said. Tired, confused and emotionally abused, it seemed no one else noticed. The leader was stripping our personalities and trying to empty our brains. He told us 'anything is possible.' And Landmark would supposedly help us to create new possibilities. Sadly many people seemed totally hooked."

"Thanks for the information on the Landmark Forum. My best friend started going and I went to a Landmark session.The whole thing seemed completely and utterly contrived and my bells started ringing. My friend went up to 'share,' mouthing a load of rubbish about being too skinny and looking to me constantly. Then he was given the standard round of Landmark positive feedback. Five minutes later, I turned to him (I was not allowed to sit next to him because they isolate new people) and said I had better things to do. I then researched Landmark. I did not know about the connection between EST and Landmark .When I read about the evolution of EST into Landmark, I almost fell out of my chair. Due to his involvement and my disgust with Landmark, I lost my best friend. These people are like worms preying on the insecure."

"I would like to thank you for putting up your website. I attended a Landmark 'graduation' and an alarm immediately went off. I went to support a friend's journey into 'transformation,' but was warned about the hard sell. My friend was so brainwashed he offered to pay for my enrollment. These people give me the creeps, they are like religious fanatics. I walked out and made a beeline for the exit. My decision to leave was made more concrete when my friend said not to listen to the voice inside your head that is constantly judging. In my opinion, people often make the mistake of not taking their own gut reactions more seriously."

"My boyfriend has been attending the Landmark Forum for over a year now. He volunteers for them for free. He is there at the center office at least 3 to 4 times a week. He pretty much neglects his hobbies, like biking, rock climbing and other sports that we once enjoyed so much. He is very smart person, and yet so dumb. A family member introduced him to the Forum, I don't see any good effect of this program, but we are are losing our friends. He almost lost me last year, I told him I can't take it anymore. He promised me he would quit soon. I did go to the seminar, which he paid for and found nothing valuable through their program. They tried to get you to bring all your friends to their next program. All they want is your money. I'm smart enough to figure that out. When they tried to enroll me for another program I told them I didn't have any money, and then someone said I should borrow some from the bank, or my family! I can't believe we let this an organization like this terrorize our lives and our minds."

"I participated at Landmark Education for 6 years and have to admit it made a huge difference in my life. I also had some bad experiences at LEC, especially with their staff and other leaders. I found the negative experiences to be shame-based and that there was a hierarchy that had to do with power and dominating an individual. Any time I questioned an individual above me, I was told I wasn't accepting their coaching. They never looked at the possibility that they might be contributing to the situation."

"I just took the advanced course last night. It was the most awful four days of my life. I want to picket outside their door! I just cannot get over that so many people fall for this BS. I almost did, but on Sunday night I started to put it all together. God forbid you think on your own, that's your 'act,' or your 'story,' or whatever the hell they label it to keep your mind in prison. It also goes against Christianity, which places God in authority. This is misrepresentation in a big way and I intend to get every penny I paid back."

"What disturbs me is the fact that they used bright fluorescent lighting with no windows, didn't allow food or drink in the room, and required such long hours. Hell, if you sit in a fluorescent-drenched, stuffy room for three days and nights, with little hydration and no [unsupervised] communication with the people there, you will probably believe just about anything."

"A friend attended the forum and was at first extremely 'blissful' about his transformation. But one week later he appeared to have his reality all mixed up in some sort of dream state--'happy,' but disturbed. He visited his parents to 'complete the past,' as Landmark encourages people to do, but ended up getting violent with them. This resulted in him being hospitalized. He appears to be OK after treatment, though he is full of drugs. I suppose that the Landmark course has a different effect upon each individual, but this appears to be another example of what seems like inadequate support given to people who go through this training."

"I walked out of the Landmark Forum in Nairobi feeling that people there looking for help were being taken advantage of and given overly simplistic and seemingly destructive formulas for their lives. The whole thing was extremely disturbing and its methods extremely manipulative. I handed in my name tag and said I wouldn't return the following day. Guilt, manipulation and implied threats through supposed 'concern for my well-being were all present in conversation. It is very sad that people see this as a means to 'transform' their lives. It is difficult to understand how those involved will reach their own goals from a program like this. Thank you for making available all this information. I almost believed some of the rubbish they were telling me."

"I walked away from a Landmark Education Forum one year ago. Unfortunately, I was the only person out of 80 people who decided that it was not 'education,' but brainwashing and ideology. Thank you for the site."

"I was amazed by your information on EST. I was searching for information because my mother and father were members in the 70s. After a day of rigorous training to become a trainer herself, my mother drove home at 4:00 AM, fell asleep at the wheel and died. I was eight years old, my brother ten and my sister four. We have suffered greatly as a result of losing her. She should not have been worked so hard."

"I attended a Landmark Forum meeting in London as a 'guest.' Then I signed up because of a friend. You want to trust your friends. I come from a background in sales and found the whole set-up similar to people selling time shares. The place was full off smiling volunteers who encourage everyone to sign up, while the speakers are prompted by others in the room. Add to this the fact that the meeting finishes at 11 PM, when people are tired, vulnerable and of course don't want to let their friends down. It was only after leaving that I followed my gut instinct. If this was so good why the hard sell? That question led me to research Landmark on the Internet. I cancelled my registration after that. The whole sorry episode has cost me £50 and strained my friendship. Please keep up your good work and continue to expose these parasites, who feed off insecurity and the desire for self-improvement, purely for financial gain."

"Just attended an introduction to Landmark's dream world, but went there with an open mind. I was somewhat skeptical after attending other so-called education seminars. During the break I was cornered by one of the gold budge volunteers and asked what I thought of the seminar so far. My reply, 'It's just another big money grabbing scam.' He was quite indignant and informed me that their seminars are given for free in the poor countries such as India. He then asked if I would sign up. I declined and said the only benefit would be more coin in the coffers of Landmark. Poor guy looked so forlorn, he just got up, walked away and avoided me the rest of the evening."

"I read almost everything on your Landmark page, while doing research about that organization. To be fair, I also tried to look for good things about Landmark. But most of the positive information about them on the Internet came from their own members and had all the buzz words they use. I also looked up information on similar large group awareness trainings (LGATs) and Landmark seemed to win for the most bad PR. It's ironic how an organization that is supposed to help people become better human beings, is such a poor example itself."

"A friend of mine has been in Landmark for over a year now and it is taking over her life. She only wants to date men in Landmark and quit her job. Now she has more time for Landmark and volunteering. She is usually broke, but somehow always seems to find money for more Landmark programs. She also found someone through Landmark that would take her in rent free. All her dialogue sounds like rehashed Landmark terminology. She talks about 'creating new possibilities,' 'breakthroughs' and living a 'life of authentic etc.etc. Of course she is always trying to get others to try out the Forum. Everything she talks about or does is about Landmark. I personally have nothing against anything that will help people empower there lives and make them better, but my friend's life is losing balance and she is becoming more and more dependent on Landmark in an unhealthy way."

"A friend I have known since high school was introduced to Landmark by his sister. After he joined they both managed to get his father and younger sister to attend. This family has now attended many sessions at Landmark, paying who knows how much. I got a phone call from another friend telling how he now was trying to get her to attend an 'honesty' meeting with him. A week later she tells me he asked again, and called her at odd hours both at home and at work. He REALLY wanted her to go and she was feeling pressured. But she said, 'No, I am not interested.' He hasn't called her since. He is on his cell phone constantly checking in with people at Landmark and has missed work. His behavior led us to research Landmark. I am very afraid that he is going to be emotionally and fiscally drained by the end of this adventure. I really hope he comes to his senses soon. I love my friend and wish he could see how special he is without all this crap!"

"I did the Forum four years ago because I was pressured by my brother. I sat through the whole weekend listening and taking everything in. At the time I had a cold, but we were told not to take any medication. Back then I couldn't really see how they could brainwash a person. I didn't do any more courses, but my brother carried on. He thinks of himself as a Forum leader. It has totally changed my brother. He doesn't know how to deal with minor problems and blows them up into major deals. He often gets upset because he doesn't have a girlfriend, but he scares them all away. He can't chill out. He's far too introspective and intense. The Forum has clouded his judgment, which is why he has so much debt. It has destroyed my brother. Six days out of seven he is at Landmark headquarters doing work for them and not getting paid. He comes home at about 1:00 AM and leaves for his real job and 7:00 AM. If someone tries to persuade you to do the Forum, DON'T. Landmark is a scam [sic]."

"A Landmark zealot, recently paid for me to go to the Forum. I attended, but was sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose. The next morning I felt like hell, it was a bad upper and lower respiratory infection. I called before the start time, but was told that my body was simply reacting this way to the new information I was getting. A volunteer tried to persuade me to finish the course. I didn't and the next day was hospitalized due to breathing problems associated with bronchitis. I want to let you know that I appreciate your Web site, which is extremely thoughtful and very enlightening."

"I'm from Holland and a recent Landmark graduate of the Forum. At my action session today I 'shared' some of my findings from your website and then I quit the Forum in action group. Thanks for offering such an extensive information resource about Landmark."

"I went to the Landmark Forum, but walked out an hour before the end of the first night. I am a social worker with a background in psychology, a master's degree and am currently working on my LCSW. The manner in which individuals were treated at the Landmark was shocking. I can't believe that I sat through hours of watching the facilitator humiliate individuals. They chastised me numerous times for 'sticking out' and making problems for the volunteers. It is scary that no one was allowed to be by themselves for long periods of time or deviate from the Forum rules in any manner. They said that the reason I wanted to leave was due to my 'rackets.' But the Forum seemed similar to cult recruitment and I demanded a refund. They said my money would be refunded, but I 'me still waiting. I can't believe that I allowed myself to attend something like the Landmark Forum."

"My mother and I attended the Landmark Forum, but we left the program early. We felt that it violated our self esteem and left us empty and confused. We feel cheated out of our time and money. I consider myself an intelligent person, but Landmark Education seems quite successful at deceiving even the most level headed person."

"My new employer hired an old friend deeply entrenched in Landmark. Two weeks later there was a general staff meeting and we were all 'encouraged' to attend the next Forum. My boss called me into his office and said, 'Be there." I knew he meant the Forum. I asked if it was mandatory and he simply stated, 'No, but be there anyway!' I didn't attend and my life at work has been turned upside down. I share my office with two Landmark people. These Landmark people don't seem to be any better at essential communication skills than they were before they started. They instead seem to be in a world all by themselves, where nothing but Landmark appears to have any significance. I foresee this business hitting the skids soon and that's really the result of Landmark Education [sic]."

"It has been about a week since I took the Forum. My husband and sons came after me the night of graduation when I was about to sign up for more and got in their faces. Thank God I have a strong and supportive family and that they had their 'filters' on. I appreciate your site and have tried to share it with others I think are still trapped."

"I once worked at a company where two people were way into it and they pestered the whole office. I went out to lunch with one of these Landmark guys and he tried to recruit me. I spoke of my own philosophies and spiritual views, but he didn't understand and only wanted to know what that had to do with Landmark. I hate salesman types. I think that there is mind influencing going on. Not necessarily brainwashing, but a definite influence about how to look at things. And for every 'breakthrough' and 'transformation,' the hand that's attached to that shoulder you cry on is getting closer and closer to your wallet and address book. I don't believe everything I read, but when you read so many accounts of an event that lead to similar conclusions, it seems reasonable to form an educated opinion. Words can impact another individual and it's not right to take advantage of people, especially if they are in any sort of need."

"Last weekend was my Landmark Forum. I can't say I got anything out of it, but I suffered no harm. What I found was more or less an informercial...buzzwords, jargon and salesmanship. They definitely want to make money. I found the experience to be frightfully boring and a terrible waste of time. There are some good tools in the material, but they are few and far between."

"A friend of mine just finished the Landmark Forum, making her my 5th friend who has tried it. I always felt there was something weird about the Forum, and about my friends after they did it. I particularly hated being cajoled repeatedly into going. I've demanded that my 'forumized' friends refrain completely from asking me to participate. None of them lost their jobs or landed in the psych ward. But they get all weird and defensive when discussing my decision NOT to do it."

"I left the Landmark Forum during the middle of the first day because I was not comfortable. I am so grateful that I left and found your site today."

"Thank you for your information about Landmark Education. I completed the Forum a few weeks ago and felt that I had experienced a 'breakthrough' involving my father. I was prevented from 'recruiting' other people into the Forum by the fact that I was going on holiday and thus missing my graduation. I let it slip that I would miss graduation a volunteer advised me to cancel my holiday. I said that I would change my plans, but did no such thing. The Forum provided me the 'opportunity' to forgive my father (a popular theme). I do feel better for it and in that sense I feel that the Forum worked for me, but I also feel that the Forum does more harm than good and is basically a money making scheme. During my weekend one guy walked out after a disagreement with the leader. At that time I thought he was foolish and throwing his life away, now I see that I was the foolish one. I was due to start more seminars, but shall cancel instead. I have emailed the person that introduced me to the Forum and hope they will come to their senses too. Again, many thanks."

"I had a friend who was sucked into Landmark Forum. We intervened to get him out. It took some psychiatric help, but now he is back to normal. I was amazed to find out how big Landmark is, but yet somehow largely unnoticed. Their manipulation and control over people is frightening. After a single weekend, my friend who is a psychology major, was brainwashed. He was as far from reality as you can be and came so close to losing everything."

"The Landmark Forum has arrived in Dublin, Ireland. I was invited by a friend and much like others have told I first experienced the hard sell then closed curtains and a reluctance to allow toilet breaks. When people left their chairs were taken away to give an impression that the room was full. (re-read the controlling the room environment thread-Corboy)The whole experience was devastating. People's feelings and emotions were devalued and undermined. Everyone supposedly had a 'racquet' and their life was just a 'soap opera.' There was no credit given to personal experience. If you were abused--big deal that's just 'your interpretation' and you should 'get over it.' I left on the second day during their so-called 'sharing' time. A middle aged man said his brother abused their mother. He was very distressed and the leader shouted at him that this was none of his business and a 'false interpretation.' I was angered by that response and tried to walk out, but was met by Landmark groupies who tried to stop me. I stressed that I neither wanted to be stopped, nor to receive any follow up phone calls. But within an hour after leaving my mobile phone rang and it was my Forum friend insisting that I should go back and if I didn't I wouldn't get 'It.' I was told the next day would be the most powerful one. But the most empowering moment of my weekend was actually when I stood up to leave."

"I took the course about three years ago and it wrecked my life. After the Advanced Forum, I lost my mind and my family. I told the people that I was feeling scared and that strange things were going on in my mind, but they didn't seem to care. After the last night I lost it and ended up in a mental institution. I had no prior mental health record. Because of this, I lost my family and custody of my two year old son. Three years later I still do not sleep well. Every night I wake up wondering how this could have happened to me."

"My girlfriend went to the Landmark Forum in the United Kingdom, but left with help and support at the end of the second day. Many thanks for a great site. Without it and the others like it I would have had no idea what we were up against. The information has helped enormously."

"I attended a Landmark Forum this past weekend and was entirely wrapped up in the experience of this emotional roller coaster. I began encouraging my friends and family to see what it was about. I didn't start to question until I heard how concerned my mom was. I found your site and by reading some of the articles, was stunned to realize exactly what I had just been through. It quickly became very that I had been part of an elaborate mind control system [sic]. I felt a strong urge to return to communicate with the others in the Forum about your site. However, any attempts to communicate with the group would be blocked. I had no idea an experience as overpowering as this existed. Truly amazing, and very scary. In life, independent thinking is invaluable. In the Landmark Forum it is forbidden [sic]. Many thanks for the important service you are providing. It has been a tremendous Help to me."

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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 25, 2012 10:30PM

Part two--Visitors Reports


"The "Heiddegger for Fun and Profit" article is excellent and really gives the historical perspective on est/Forum/Landmark and touches all it's roots. This is very useful information for anyone involved and information, which curiously, isn't provided as part of the training."

"The Landmark Education/Forum/est documents at your website provide a very fair assessment/overview. I wish I had seen this before participating in it. What I found troubling in my experience with Landmark was the aggression/domination mode that some of the participants got into. Also the heavy sales pitch, and attendant 'groupism' or cultish-ness that the organization promotes. And the harshness/intrusiveness of some of the seminar leaders is a problem (the old-timers who led est that are still around seem to be the worst). These boot camp scream-in-your-face deconstructionist 'generals' who, at times, violate healthy boundaries and are disrespectful. I think it's possible to take what works and what enriches you from this 'technology' and leave the rest. Thank you so much for providing this information. Very balanced. Freedom of information is a wonderful concept! You're providing a great service."

"I only managed to make it to the first break of the second day before I walked out of the Forum. I was shocked at the power of these things.

I spent most of last night trying to overcome my 'guilt' for not finishing. This morning the issue was back in my head. Thankfully I came across your website. One personal account was literally word for word what I was feeling. I think the most frightening aspect is how easy people, including myself, can be indoctrinated. While in the Forum I kept remembering the movie 'A Clockwork Orange' where one character's eyes were forcibly kept open as they cleansed his mind. Your site was timely and extremely important to me. You have done me an invaluable service."

"I'm grateful that there are people like you watching out for organizations like Landmark."

"I've just returned from a Landmark Forum session in London and found your website after searching the Internet for more information. I walked out in disgust because of the way people were being treated and the manipulation, which at times seemed like subliminal marketing to promote taking more courses. I was totally shocked and angered by the way these people behaved. From what I saw, this is a dangerous organization, which gains success by essentially smashing peoples' moral codes and therefore who they are. Once you have been demoralized they then pounce with all their jargon and claptrap. I've heard now firsthand the way Landmark people subtly encourage their participants to cut themselves off from people who refuse to buy their rubbish."

"Thank you very much for making your research available on the web. A friend has been pressuring me to attend a Landmark Forum, but I had a lot of skepticism following the introductory seminar. Your website helped me learn a lot more about this organization and helped me make an informed decision (to NOT attend). I'm sure you are harassed by many of the organizations addressed on your website, so I have to applaud your courage in making this information public. Your website is a good example of the BEST that is possible on the Internet: freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. Please continue your excellent work."

"Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been 'hounded' by a friend to attend the Forum for a year. I kept telling her that I had reservations about the Forum.
She took it upon herself to pay a deposit and sign me up for a course. I couldn't believe it, but reluctantly agreed. After having some unforeseen expenses I called to tell Landmark I didn't want to take the course. They had called me several times to pay the balance owed. Someone said that the supervisor of the seminars would need to call me back 'just to talk,' which I thought was strange. My husband and I discussed it. The more we talked the clearer it became. When we came home we got on the Internet and found your website. Your web site clinched it. I will Landmark to never to call me again."

"I cannot express enough the relief when I discovered your web site. I thought I was the only person who didn't understand! It was relief for me to see that I must be like hundreds/ thousands of people who are fed up and disgusted with Landmark 'Education.' My personal experience is based upon being perpetually hounded by Landmark minions. Unfortunately, I have been in a relationship with a girl associated with Landmark. I wish I had seen your web site earlier.
It is ironic that the only 'paradigm shift' that has taken place is the dreadful realization that these people are sinister and relentless. Embarrassingly in a moment of weakness I committed the full $375.00 for a Forum course. I made a verbal agreement over the phone and handed over my debit card number, but I'm very stubborn and determined to retrieve my money. You deserve a medal for independent, but honest reporting. You have saved a lot of people money, heartache and no doubt lives."

"Thank you for the information about Landmark. I went to an informational meeting last night, not having any idea that Landmark was related to est, and knowing nothing about what it stood for. I had a weird feeling in my stomach when I left, and when I woke up this morning that something about the whole experience was wrong. Your website was a big help. (I actually managed to avoid signing up for the course. However, I had to nearly yell the words NO, to get them to back off. Thanks very much!"

"I am writing to thank you for your website. I only wish that I had researched the Landmark Forum prior to attending last weekend. Fortunately, my husband's heightened fear of cults led him to your website early Sunday morning. Quoting from articles there he quickly and effectively convinced me of the dangers I was facing. I managed to escape with most of my mind intact. Imagine how difficult it was to convince the volunteers of my need to leave immediately. Again, I thank you for the valuable contribution you make to many lives."

"Thank God for this site! I wish I had seen it before I was totally traumatized by my 'educational' experience with Landmark."

"I'd like to thank you for the information on your website. After observing an 'information session' about the Forum, my first reaction was that it was an aggressive sales pitch and therefore the 'product' they were selling was probably not worthwhile (or else they wouldn't need to use a hard sell). After being pointed to your website by a friend, I was able to simply confirm [some of] my suspicions--there was always this nagging doubt, but not anymore. Thanks."

"Thank you for the information you have on the Forum, EST and Landmark Education. It is very educational."

"Thanks for doing a great job on exposing Landmark Forum for what it is. I became aware of it recently via several people of work who have attended its programs. Many thanks to you for your hard work and excellent web page!"

"Thank you for the information you provide on your website regarding controversial groups--some that seem to resemble 'cults.' I am particularly interested in Landmark Education. My husband is very involved with this group and it seems to me that much of the compulsive behavior documented on your website is becoming familiar within my home. What I find disturbing is his constant assessments of the children and me, which appear to stem from his training at Landmark. He is convinced that the Landmark way is the only way and has mentioned more than once that my children and I need to attend the Landmark Education Forum. I find this organization frightening. Landmark Education's schedule for Manhattan has a course offering for young people and another for teens. I recommend that any parent who is concerned [about Landmark] use the main schedule to locate whatever courses [might be offered] in their area."

"Because of your web site my girlfriend is probably going to get her life back together. She was a devotee of Landmark Education and this morning she said she feels normal again, after having read your material"

"I actually did the Landmark Forum and absolutely HATED IT. I now wish that I had seen your page as I now feel very ripped off and used. In the forum everyone was told to close his or her eyes and concentrate. The Forum leader tried to make out that everyone was tired (it was about 11:30 at night). He made out that he could make everyone not tired anymore & he would get rid of your headache if you had one. It seemed that everyone else in the room (185 people) were pretty much what I would call 'hypnotized' [sic]. When my friend and I looked around, the Forum leader quite abruptly told us to close our eyes and lower our heads. There was also a high pitch noise in the background, which the leader told everyone to ignore. . I felt really uncomfortable."

"Landmark is indeed a dangerous experience for some people and a slick way to make people dependent on their Forums for satisfaction in their lives. I spent the first two days there and didn't return for the third and strongly advise anyone to never go. The most disturbing part of this experience was the way the coach makes you feel so depressed. He used the word 'fear' and associated words [many] times in a ramble about how we live our daily lives. It was literally mind control at work [sic]."

"My little sister recently attended a Landmark Education Forum. I was able to find [information] on your website that helped lead my family, including my younger sister, away from this group. Your resource was a 'real' miracle. Thank you."
-- A recent visitor

"Mr. Ross, I think you are doing a courageous service to everyone who these kinds of organizations view as more sheep for the flock and I emphasize 'everyone'. Don't let anyone silence you with threats or lawsuits. I'm sure as Hell not letting them add me to their docile herd!"

"I recognized the Landmark program was dangerous and ridiculous four years ago--after it helped destroy my 28-year marriage. My wife became obsessed with Landmark. I made a vow to myself that somehow when possible I would draw people's attention to this nonsense if they were vulnerable. The other day she told me she was doing Landmark again. I want her to keep it away from my children."

"I'm glad I did research before I got sucked into this thing. Your Web site was an enormous help".

"I did the Forum in 1992 and eventually participated in five seminars, quitting the fifth when the pressure became too much to bear. To anyone who is considering going to the Forum: Don't. The Forum is an exercise in suggestion, persuasion and manipulation. The information I have read about cult recruiting methods sounds very much like the Forum. I strongly advise against participation".

"It was 1992, when my best friend tried to get me to join the Sterling Men's Weekend--I went to the open house (in Toronto), and subsequently was heavily pressured to join. I'm a very strong person, and more than that, I'm a cheap bastard. I could not fathom getting $500 value out of a two day weekend in New York State--so I didn't join. He left the Sterling clan about a year later, and hooked up with Landmark. And, yes, he tried to get me to join that one as well. Being the cheap bastard that I am, I refused that one as well. I'm glad to say that he has left both of those organizations behind".

"My company has had the Forum. My boss was extremely persistent in trying to have me attend. What a bunch of crap I thought it was. They were talking in a circle--never giving solid answers to any of the questions asked. They would use their lingo to explain something, make themselves sound superior and people would fall for that! I left when they had their first break and will never return to one of those sessions again. I would quit my job if it came to it".

"Thank you for this site. Last night nine of my employees and myself looked at and listened to Landmark Education. Fortunately, I was armed with my father's good old common sense and delayed sign up in order to do further research. Your site has been most valuable. Using Meta Search engines, I was amazed at how intensely Landmark has seeded themselves favorably under searches like 'Cults', 'Mind Control' etc. I am shaken to the bone at their deceptive, high-pressure sales approach."

"I walked out of a Landmark Forum session two years ago. I did get my money back. Thank you for putting out information regarding the group.I came across a book titled 'Outrageous Betrayal' about Werner Erhard. It detailed his background and the founding of EST which contains materials he borrowed from other sources".

"I just wanted to say that it was nice to read your site on Landmark education. I went to my boyfriend's last session of the self-expression and leadership program, and was told I was just going to be hearing people speak about their accomplishments. Although that did occur, I also received a high-pressure sales pitch. It was very ironic because the guests were told again and again that it was simply an invitation to apply. Yet, at one point the leader told the members to sign up their guests if they thought it would help them. I was asked again and again what I thought of the program and if I was going to join--and why not, when I told them I wasn't interested".

"My corporation is requiring all employees to attend 'The Forum' (known at work as 'Breakthrough 200') and subsequent 'Project Formulation' seminars. I attended the Forum class, and experienced for myself the group's disturbing mental manipulation techniques. People who attended the 'Project Formulation' described a lot of mental games that I found threatening. I am seriously considering quitting because of my company's insistence on attendance at these frightening programs."

"Just prior to attending the Landmark Forum I decided to do some research on the Internet and found your Web site. It really surprised me to find what I was about to get into and I immediately called and cancelled (or tried to--it took 3 calls to make it clear I was not attending). I very much appreciate the information you have gathered--it saved the day. What I don't understand is the spell these people can cast over those who appear to be intelligent clear thinking people. My co-worker who insisted this would be a life-changing experience and is an extremely sharp, pretty-much-together professional. And I bet if I present some of this information to him that he would have a perfectly plausible way of discounting it. I am amazed that such an organization can exist out in the open and can continue to be successful."

"Thanks to the resources of, I was able to make an informed decision and avoid Landmark! Kudos to you for providing the research material and thus helping me avoid a potentially frustrating 'pressure sale' session or even worse."

"I was roped in by a guy that I work with and went to the weekend thing, but I went already pissed off because it was wasting a beautiful weekend inside. The first two hours were so boring that I could hardly sit still. The Forum leader was constantly talking and for the most part of it. At first I thought I must be really stupid if I don't understand what she's talking about. Then I realized that she really didn't understand it either! So, I told myself that I'd sit though the first part until the break and then decide if I should force myself to stay. I had invested $400.00 and I didn't want to waste it. I wanted to scream at her and tell her to shut up she had been repeating herself so much she became annoying. One guy got up and asked the leader what the Landmark Forum's basis is? The women couldn't answer him. At that point, I decided to count the $400.00 as a really expensive lesson and leave at the first break. To my delight they offered an 'out' with a full refund--so I took it. However, not without them trying to embarrass me and make me feel like a quitter. But I left there feeling 'empowered'! But not until I found your website did I realize the shit I almost stepped in!"

"I was 'kicked out' of a [Landmark] Forum session by the leader. He told me he would not allow me back in because I failed to return after a meal break and my reason for not doing so was because I was not seeing any validity in the program. He told me that he was my coach and I had to do what he said, I had no integrity and was being shitty with him, etc. You can guess the rest!

I regret that I did not have the foresight to research on the Internet prior to this weekend. Instead, I buckled under the coercion of a friend. I plan to write and see if they have the 'integrity' to refund the money that I paid for nothing, but a weekend of misery. Thanks for being there, the Forum was nothing more than a very bad experience."

"I was refunded 100%. Of course, it took several phone calls and I used the leverage that I was told by the Forum Leader that I would 'not be let back in'. That coupled with the fact that he was rude, condescending, etc. helped my case. In any event, I am proud that I was 'kicked out'. "

"I just attended [the Landmark Forum] seminar over the weekend, and a clear, unmistakable warning sounded in my head near the end. 'Get out of here now it's a [sic] cult'! I firmly believe this stuff is extremely powerful, yet also EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! I came back and was able to get through without signing up for the advanced course. I believe the leader would have made the carnival huckster hall of fame."

"I would like my money back for the 'Curriculum for Living' and have been basically laughed at each time I've requested that. $1100 [is] the approximate cost of the 'Curriculum for Living'--Forum, [an] Advanced Course, Self-Expression & Leadership Program, plus [I did] many hours of volunteer work. That money would be better spent elsewhere."

"I paid my $400 [and went] to one of these sessions, which in my opinion was nothing short of the biggest rip-off. One of the attending payers got up to tell the confessional that she had an abortion at the age of 20. She [now 42] confided that she had told her mom, but that her husband had no idea about this at all. [Our group leader] asked her to face him, think of him as her child and tell why she had murdered him. I decided I had enough and left. [It seems to me] that they [often] sell sadness and destruction as well as a form of codependency that could be very hard to break out of."

"Thank you for providing so much information on your web site. After taking the Forum I felt drugged, my heart was racing, I was euphoric, and I felt like I couldn't have my own thoughts. I was a bit zombie like and felt like I was in an alternate universe. I am in the process of recovering from the experience. I think that what these people do can be dangerous. Especially to those of us who are very suggestible and listen very intently. At the end of the Forum I was ready to volunteer and take the advanced course, which is $700. But I don't think I would have come back from that experience if I did it. What snapped me out of it was Monday morning at work when a close coworker said, 'Boy you are REALLY out of it!' I then did some research on the Internet. When I recovered my sense of reason I was able to reframe the experience, but before that I really did feel brainwashed."

"I have completed all the programs and was even a Course Supervisor for a period of time. I have been witness to too many things to not say anything, but the power of this organization is far reaching. I believe Landmark education creates [something]...similar to a manic depressive."

"Thank you very much for your web page and the support and advice it offers. My best friend of some 20 years, has within the last two years--fallen victim to Landmark. Despite a lot of patience and research on my part, I found that our relationship had in effect been wiped out by her experience and sadly--I have had to draw our friendship to a close. I am sure you are familiar with the feelings of anger, outrage and impotence that occur amongst family and friends when the people they care about are effectively taken away from them. I find the informed advice on your page essential help in that it stops me taking the changes in behavior personally and gives me some understanding of what the other person thinks they are going through."

"Thank you so much for providing this information. My wife is very involved with Landmark and things are getting scary. She now 'acknowledges' the 'possibility' that she may have married me because of her low self esteem at the time and that I might not be the right one for her. My Forum is to begin in January, [but] I am backing out. They, in conjunction with my wife, can be very persuasive. Trying to love and understand my wife is what finally prompted me to sign on despite all of the alarm bells ringing in my head."

"Thank you for your informative page and I really hope it helps my friend in Perth, western Australia who is new to 'Landmark Forum'--to be quite honest I want them out of here!"

"My friend recently did the Landmark Forum in London and recommended that I try it--telling me that I had many issues to deal with and backing that up with the question, 'Don't you trust me not to get you into something dodgy?' I paid the £235, which I had to borrow and have literally just returned having left the Forum during the only meal break of the third day. I had a nagging doubt all through and tried to express this. The Forum Leader simply gave me more coaching and told me I was resisting and 'already always listening' and that I should get 'present' to the game and allow him to coach me. At one point the Forum leader explained to a girl in the audience that her father had not sexually abused her. But that he had not known an appropriate way to express his love for her and that it had not 'felt' bad. She should [now] contact him to complete this issue and move on to a new dialogue with him. I expressed my concern during an interval to another participant, he told me his parents had seen a site by you and were freaked. I immediately left the forum and came home to look you up. I have spent a couple of hours reading your stuff, and I am horrified at how easily I was [brought] into this. At one point I even considered sending my children on the young persons course. Thank you for this site, I am certain that it has saved me from being sucked in."

"My sister-in-law recently went to The [Forum] and I received several calls late in the night. She then called me back in a euphoric state and told me all about her weekend. She does not have the money to continue right now, but has already begun saving to attend the 'Advanced Class.' My sister-in-law dredged up old [family] problems that had long ago been resolved and this is hurt[ful to those concerned]"

"I'm embarrassed to say, I did the weekend at The Forum in 1997; and it was, just as said on one of your pages, 'only a weekend,' but it was the worst weekend in my memory!"

"Thank you so much for your web site and your information. You just saved me at least $375 as I almost attended a Landmark Forum. I'd heard some positive comments from people who attended previous seminars but was skeptical and rightfully so. I'm certain that I would have left during the first two hours and asked for my refund. You are doing a wonderful service in the world."

"Thank you so much for your web site. A good friend of mine down on her luck became involved with the Forum. I had a bad feeling when she told me about them (as we have both read an article published in Elle magazine about a year ago). She's not as screwed up as she believes--just vulnerable to phonies with their own kind of logic. This fall she wasted probably $1,000 on these idiots (i.e. the Forum) and was on Unemployment. was just invited to a Forum party wherein there would be 'no obligations.' Yeah, sure. I told her that it seemed like a disgusting rip off and this girl was basically sad to have to have parties for the Forum. I feel like this whole situation may break our friendship, but I can't lie and once again I thank you for all this information."

"Thank you for this site. It is great to read about others [with] experiences regarding the Landmark Education Forum. I am grateful to be able to read [this], [though] I did not become a convert--my life has been made hell by my neighbor [that is]. I thought I was crazy until I found this web page--so thank you."

"I just wanted to send you my thanks for the knowledge your site has given me, specifically about Landmark's Forum. A good friend and her husband brought me to a 'Special Evening' about two months ago where I signed myself up and handed over a check for $100. I was at a point in my life where I felt I had lost motivation and direction, so this seemed like a perfect solution to my problems. As this week approached I started feeling apprehension about going. My boyfriend, who is usually very supportive, was very unsupportive because he felt that the Forum was a 'brainwashing, pyramid marketing scheme' and my friends who had gotten me involved in it were way too excited about the fact I was going.

Something just didn't feel right. I called the center and my suspicions were confirmed. [A Landmark person] started in with the language, that I had already started on the 'path' to changing my life and I needed to honor 'my commitments.' What about my commitment to school and work? I suddenly felt trapped and I knew this was something I shouldn't get involved in. As I was reading your web site Landmark called me and asked me why I was having second thoughts. The woman said, 'The Forum will help you become a better student.' I told her, 'I am already a wonderful student, I would like my money refunded.' She suddenly became unfriendly and informed me that my money would be refunded and hung up.
I wanted to send you this note as thank you for helping me make a intelligent rational decision. You have done me more good than any Forum class ever could."

"I wish I had found your brilliant web site before I wasted my money ($395 Australian) on the Landmark Forum in Sydney last week. I only attended the first day, but was so upset--that I refused to attend the rest of the program. Landmark refused to give me my money back. When I said that I would be writing to the 'Office of Fair Trading' (our product and service complaints government organization) I was told, 'go right ahead--we have successfully handled any complaint made, to our favor in the past.' I want to try every avenue to warn people not to attend the Landmark Forum."

"A friend attended the Forum last weekend. the classes began friday and on Saturday she called on a break and says that she needs to 'share' a fear with me, but had to hurry back to class because they can't dare be late. Sunday she leaves a message on my answering machine and starts in with words such as living with 'integrity,' 'breakthroughs' and 'transformations.' When a person makes life changing decisions in THREE DAYS--something is VERY WRONG! She was a completely different woman and I am worried about her. She actually tried to get me to go to the introduction to the forum the following Tuesday. The Forum is very dangerous [sic]--be leery! People like my friend, who are searching and are vulnerable, are prime targets for these 'Forums.' When the high wears off where does it leave them?"

"If only I'd read your page before i got sucked into the Forum. After half a day of the Forum I felt belittled and that my philosophy on life was completely wrong. I decided to leave, with about ten others, at the second opportunity. They told us the we would receive a total refund--apart from a our deposit. This was almost two months ago. Landmark told me that my credit card account has been credited, but it has not. Now they will no longer take my calls and are very rude on the phone. I would never recommend anyone attending this course--it made me feel very depressed."

Copyright © Rick Ross

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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 18, 2012 11:21PM

"New Enterprise"

One persons description of the more tactful methods of recruitment now in use by LEC


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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 18, 2012 11:11AM

After all the muss and fuss, sobs, tears, wailing and gnashing of teeth, five of these franchises remain open. Big contrast from the gloom and doom one year ago.


LocationsCG Venice
View this Location

CG Santa Cruz
View this Location

CG Berkeley
View this Location

CG Los Angeles
View this Location

Gracias Madre
View this Location

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Re: Café Gratitude enrollment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 25, 2013 09:54PM

The Shmattah Mattah -- Mission Linen

How is that gratitude?

Cafe Gratitude just wants unbleached linens; instead, they've got a lawsuit
06.12.07 - 9:19 pm | Amanda Witherell | (0)


How is that gratitude? | SF Bay GuardianJun 12, 2007 ... But now Café Gratitude is being sued for $25,000 by Mission Linen for breach of
contract. Before terminating their contract with Mission Linen, ... - 45k - Cached - Similar pages


GREEN CITY Doing the right thing often costs a little more. Organic food, solar panels, and compact fluorescent lightbulbs are all pricier than conventional options. But Café Gratitude is now adding legal fees to the cost of going green for terminating a linen service contract in order to use unbleached cotton napkins in its four restaurants.

It's hard to imagine how a restaurant could be any more humane, sustainable, and environmentally conscious. Café Gratitude's raison d'être is encouraging deeper human relationships with one another and the world while serving strictly raw, vegan food. Wheatgrass grows on its counters, and if it's not organic, it's not on the menu.

Terces and Matthew Engelhart opened the first restaurant in the Mission District in 2004 and have since spread to the Sunset, Berkeley, and San Rafael, with a Los Angeles location on the way. Each spot has compact fluorescent lightbulbs, toilets that flush with a low-flow gush, high-output hand dryers, and cornstarch to-go containers.

In order to eliminate plastic from their entire supply chain, the Engelharts have leaned on their bulk-food carriers to use fusti containers (large, stainless-steel casks provided by the café) instead of those ubiquitous, unrecyclable five-gallon buckets when shipping their raw goods. A recent raw food recipe book by Terces was printed on 100 percent recycled paper at her insistence. The cafés frequently host fundraisers for local nonprofits. Of course they compost, recycle, and buy local. The delivery van putters along on biodiesel.

Yet in the process of seeking to further green their business, the issue of bleached napkins came up. The Engelharts have always used cloth napkins rather than paper. Once washing napkins themselves became infeasible for their growing business, they contracted for clean cotton napkins from Mission Linen Supply. From the start, they asked the company for an unbleached alternative, but none was available.

Anyone with a bottle of Clorox can read the warning label cautioning against allowing its contents anywhere near your skin, mouth, or eyes. The use of chlorine bleach in laundry produces chloroform, a human carcinogen, and additional industrial uses create another 177 organochlorine byproducts, including dioxin, the stuff found in pesticides like DDT and Agent Orange. No level of exposure to dioxin is considered safe, but it has pervaded the environment so deeply that it typically turns up in breast milk and semen, drinking water, and the fatty tissue of the fish we eat. Dioxin can lead to hormone imbalances, reproductive disorders, kidney and liver diseases, and cancer of all kinds.

So the Engelharts decided to switch from Mission Linen to another nationally known company, Aramark, which offers unbleached cotton cloth rags, often used in the auto industry. The rags, which are a creamy beige color and look like they could have come off a shelf at Crate and Barrel, would have a first run at Café Gratitude, then be recycled for their next job, wiping oil dipsticks. "We thought this was a great green solution," Terces said.

But now Café Gratitude is being sued for $25,000 by Mission Linen for breach of contract.

Before terminating their contract with Mission Linen, the Engelharts continued to press the company for a green solution, but no dice. They decided to keep the bleached supply coming to the Harrison Street location, but as new cafés opened, they'd use Aramark's unbleached alternative, which is the same price.

After repeatedly requesting a greener laundry service from Mission Linen, they reviewed their contract and determined it could be terminated if Mission Linen couldn't provide a product or service of the quality found at a similar laundry in the area.


Cafe Gratitude, you may remember, has also drawn ire from current and former staff for its relationship to the self-help program Landmark Forum, which some employees allege they were forced into by threat of losing their jobs. And it appears the company's no stranger to lawsuits, either: In 2007, the restaurant chain was sued by for breach of contract by its napkin supplier.


Cafe Gratitude Sued for Labor-Code Violations

East Bay Express, California/August 9, 2011
By Ellen Cushing
Better start working on your "I am [allegedly violating labor law/gettin' sued]" witticisms now, guys. That's right: Local raw-vegan chain/alleged cult Cafe Gratitude is being sued by a former employee for a host of labor-law violations.

In the suit, which was filed in San Francisco superior court, Sarah Stevens alleges that in her time working at various CafGraf locations, she was deprived of legally-mandated breaks, and received only a fraction of the tips she rightfully earned. Per a statement from her legal team, Kumin Sommers LLP:

In addition to not receiving her rest and meal periods, Stevens alleges that she is required to participate in an unreasonable and uncustomary tip pooling scheme that leaves her with a very small percentage of the tips she earns as a server. Specifically, Stevens alleges that after tipping out 20% of her daily tips to the "central kitchen" an offsite kitchen on 14th street, Stevens must then split the remaining 80% of her tips equally with all of the Cafe Gratitude staff, including the "shift leaders" and retail employees.

Cafe Gratitude, you may remember, has also drawn ire from current and former staff for its relationship to the self-help program Landmark Forum, which some employees allege they were forced into by threat of losing their jobs. And it appears the company's no stranger to lawsuits, either: In 2007, the restaurant chain was sued by for breach of contract by its napkin supplier, and the statement from Stevens' law firm also alludes to possible litigation surrounding an Americans with Disabilities Act violation. (Alas, if only it were illegal to charge $13 for plate of hummus.)

We'll keep you posted.

Update, 5:38: Lookie here. Our homies at SF Weekly spoke to a rep from Cafe Gratitude, who more or less called BS on the suit. Director of Operations Chandra Gilbert said that the tip-pooling policy, which seems to be the crux of Stevens' lawsuit, was approved by an employee vote, and that new hires also sign an agreement letting them know about the system. Meanwhile, the Weekly also reports that Stevens will be seeking at least $75,000

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