In 2016, Youtube star and cooking sensation Hannah Hart visited Eugene to shoot an episode for her Food Network show “I Hart Food.” Hart, who has 2.5 million subscribers on Youtube, featured several Eugenean restaurants on her show, including Off the Waffle, Party Downtown, and Red Wagon Creamery.
The Food Network episode seemed to mark a sign of prosperity for Red Wagon, a local ice cream shop founded in 2011 by co-owners Emily and Stuart Phillips. In fall of 2016, Red Wagon opened a location on campus to accompany its downtown location. A year later, the store was featured in an article by the Washington Post. Until recently, it seemed that Red Wagon was quite successful (perhaps even on the way to eclipsing Eugene’s beloved Prince Pucklers).
In December 2017, however, Red Wagon closed its campus location in the Erb Memorial Location after failing to meet financial obligations set forth in its contract. Public records obtained by the Emerald show that the owners owe more than $32,000 in taxes. In addition, Community CreditWorks has sued Red Wagon for $34,000 in late loan payments. Several Red Wagon employees have also reported issues with receiving paychecks.
Besides financial struggles, Red Wagon’s owner Stuart Phillips is also facing sexual misconduct allegations against its owner, Stuart Phillips. Red Wagon employee Mackenzie Miller told the Emerald that Phillips made several inappropriate comments towards her, such as telling her that they should “make a porno of her bathing in ice cream.” According to Miller, several customers also complained that Phillips made them uncomfortable with his lewd comments.
Former EMU manager Ilee Jo filed a formal sexual harassment complaint against Phillips after he told her that her “tits looked nice” in a photo. Co-owner Emily Phillips acknowledged the complaint in an email she wrote to Jo, saying that Phillips had apologized for the incident and received workplace sexual harassment training.
According to the Emerald, Phillips has denied all sexual harassment accusations, besides the official complaint from Jo.
“Most of our owners and 90 percent of the leadership team is female,” Phillips told the Emerald. “So I’d be very surprised.”
Though Red Wagon’s campus location is closed, its downtown location is still in business (though its website is currently unavailable). The EMU is seeking input from students on vendors that should replace Red Wagon.