Library café owners detail mistreatment they say forced them to close

The owners of the café at the Guilderland Public Library are shedding more light on why they closed.

Café con Mel owner Melanie Diaz had said on Facebook last week that she faced “racism, harassment and constant disrespect,” from both patrons and library employees.

In a statement released Monday evening, the café said “a library employee went through our mail, stole a point-of-sale tablet, and hid the tablet in their work office for weeks.”

The café said after telling the library what happened, the only thing the library did was offer that employee an early retirement package.

“Our location was regularly reported to the health department by library staff for bogus violations all of which were unsubstantiated among numerous other disturbing interferences into our business,” the owners also said in a statement.

The statement was released Monday evening, the same night the library held an emergency board meeting where community members could voice public opinion on the sudden closure.

Dozens of people showed up to the meeting, which was mostly a public comment session as the library board listened. The board said they are now working to determine the next steps.

“We deeply regret having to leave our space in the Guilderland Public Library. This decision takes food out of our family’s mouths. We stand by it because no one, especially our employees, should be victims of discrimination and harassment.”

The café said they paid $200 per month to rent the space, and utilities were included. The agreement was going to be reevaluated after a year, depending on sales.