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Carrot Tree Kitchens Owner Defies National Park Service By Not Leaving Property

Carrot Tree Kitchens

A Yorktown, Virginia, restaurant owner has joined the ranks of hundreds of Americans who are fighting back against the illogical and unreasonable federal government shutdown dictates.

When restaurant owner Glenn Helseth made the decision not to vacate his building when ordered to do so by the National Park Service (NPS), he became a lawbreaker. For more than a decade Helseth has operated the Carrot Tree Kitchens Restaurant in Yorktown inside the Cole Diggs House. Since the National Park Service owns the building, Helseth and his wife were given 48 hours to pack up their things and vacate the property. The couple and their staff are not federal employees, so once the government shutdown is over, they will not be getting any back pay. Just a few weeks of shuttered doors could cause irreparable damage to the restaurant’s employees and its business. Adding insult to injury, the couple also owns a restaurant on Jamestown Island, also federal land, and was ordered to close that one as well.’

“We’re upset on a number of levels, not the least of which is the impending financial doom that Carrot Tree faces,” Glenn Helseth said. “… I intend to serve everybody that wants to dine with me. I don’t intend to close my doors. I am occupying Carrot Tree Yorktown. … I’m serving Brunswick stew, ham biscuits, and carrot cake. If that gets me put in jail, I’m going to jail.”

Concerns voiced by his restaurant staff helped prompt his decision to defy the federal government. Going a single week without a paycheck was forcing many of the workers to worry not only about making rent, but about putting food on their table. Helseth sends the federal government a check each month for the use of the property and he receives no taxpayer funds or services.

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Of course, it’s not the first controversial decision by the NPS or the government during the shutdown. Among the others:

  • The National Park Service allowed an immigration rally and concert on the National Mall to continue while denying entrance to others at so many locations. A National Park Service staffer told CNN that the protestors were permitted to assemble on the closed piece of federal land because their First Amendment rights must be respected.  The Camino Americano: Concert and March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect was hosted by local and national Latino groups and the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO.
  • The bodies of four American service members who died in Afghanistan over the weekend will soon be arriving at Dover Air Force Base. The grieving families were denied immediate death benefits, which should have included a flight to the base to meet the remains of their loved ones. Private charities stepped in to make sure that all the families could fly to Dover Air Force Base and bring the fallen patriots home.
  • The Claude Moore Colonial Farm is a privately funded park that sits on federal land, yet it was ordered to close, as well. The employees on the 18th century living history farm are not federal, so no back pay will be coming their way, either. The farm survives on donations and fundraising, and one of their biggest events of the year will occur during the shutdown. Anna Eberly, managing director of the farm, reports that this is the first time that the farm has been ordered to close when a government shutdown occurs. In the end, the government reversed course and allowed the park to remain open.
  • Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer worked with local businesses and groups to cover the costs necessary to keep the Grand Canyon open for the 4.5 million people who visit the natural wonder each year. When Governor Brewer contacted Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga to discuss the funds necessary to keep the facility open, he turned her down flat, holding the Obama administration line on closures.

How do you feel about the government’s positions on what is closed and not closed?

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  1. Somewhere in America may soon be echo “the shot heard ’round the world,” if the tyrant Obamunists don’t stop their vindictive shutdowns of properties that have had no federal assistance or presence since they were established.

    Can it be Obama’s hope that some patriot fires the first shot in order that he may declare martial law and stomp what is left of America into oblivion? Obama seems to be putting government forces in close proximity in an attempt to goad the people into an altercation. Indeed, even if fired in self defense, as in Lexington, the circumstances of who fired the first shot will be contested.

    I distrust this rogue government so much that I would not be surprised to learn that an Obamunist agent provocateur, hidden from sight, will have assassinated one of their own in order to start the final phase of the Communist Revolution in America.

    • sad but probably true. it’s part of his training in rules for radicals. i just pray our military and police don’t fall for it.

    • Our Fore Fathers would have been shooting by now.

    • Obama didn’t mandate the shutdown, Boehner and his Tea Party GOP did.

      • You are ill informed. Democrats idea of compromise is like that of a boa constrictor with its coils wrapped about a bunny rabbit. Says the boa constrictor to the bunny, “Let’s compromise. I’ll squeeze only thissss tight, and you breathe only thaaaat deep.” Says the bunny to the boa constrictor, “If I breathe only this deep, I can’t bre—” The end.

      • The House of Representatives has passed bills to fund every part of government, Harry Reid has refused to even bring them to the floor of the Senate for a vote and Obama has said he will veto them if they do get through the Senate. So, who is the obstructionist?

  2. I don’t know how you expect to get business if the park is closed but since I am not there I do not know. I just want to offer a suggestion. I do not know if this will work so you may want to “check it out” first but maybe you could ask for donations instead of payment. This was used in the past to get around problems of selling product but things change so much over time. I do not know if this will still work or if it will work in your situation.

    • There is a dimension of this government shutdown that you and many others fail to see. These privately operated eateries and museums are not in parks or fenced and gated campuses. They are historic sites that sit on individual lots, nestled among other lots with privately owned homes and businesses. They are merely structures that would have stood unmaintained were it not for those entrepreneurs who were willing to risk their own money to bring the buildings up to code and to provide tourists with accommodations and/or sustenance, without which, the general public would have no reason to go there at all. Were it not for these entrepreneurs, those historical sites, if found worthy of preservation, would have sucked money from government and would likely have had few visitors for all the cost to maintain them.

      In other words, these people are acting as unpaid caretakers, since there is neither assistance from government nor any personnel assigned as guides or security. The grounds are maintained by these entrepreneurs as well. Indeed, these people are PAYING the government through leases and perhaps a percentage of the take from concessions, plus paying all applicable taxes, and spending their own money and sweat to keep the places respectable. These places are revenue generators, and do not take a penny from the government. They also employ any number of citizens, each of whom pay taxes as well. Each one of those operations is a profit center for the government, without the government lifting a finger.

      Using Google Earth, you can get an up close look at each of the sites targeted by this rogue government. You will see that they are not within any park preserve. Carrot Tree Kitchens, located on Jamestown Road, has private homes immediately adjacent to it on the east side. Across the street and to the right are businesses, including CBM Executive Search Corp., The Beauty Cottage, Computer Clinic, and Jacqueline Nichols Accounting Services, among others. Directly across the street is Serenity Spa. Just west of the spa is a 7-Eleven gas station and convenience store, and further down the road is Consulate Healthcare, a sprawling healthcare facility. The adjacent property on the west side of the Carrot Tree is Nazar, a Turkish restaurant, and the next that is Jamestown Pie Company. Continuing on down Jamestown Road, you come to Cooke’s Gardens, a plant nursery specializing in organic plants and heirloom seeds. Beyond that, you come to more housing developments. There is no park to close. There is only a single facility that was closed by a cynical government political machine.

      It is pure spite from this rogue government, under the Sniveling One, to cause maximum discomfort for Americans in order to get them to blame the Republicans for a government shutdown that is caused by Obama and Reid and the rest of their minions in Washington. The House has presented bill after bill to the Senate to fund all government activities except Obamacare. The Senate has refused to take up any bill that would restore any portion of government that is shutdown, and in fact, those parts that have been shut down are intentionally the most visible to the public. They have selectively maintained many invisible government functions (83% of government is still functioning), but they have allowed those that directly impact the public to be shut down. This is intentional, egregious, childish, and spiteful, and it is not the fault of Republicans.

  3. The Carrot tree has three locations, though it is a VERY small business. Their main and original location is on Jamestown Road in Williamsburg, unaffected by any shutdown, and I believe that’s where the bakery is located. Their Yorktown restaurant is on Main Street in the town of Yorktown. The building is owned by the NPS but it’s NOT within a park and it’s on a public road in the town. They pay rent and maintain the building and it’s not an actual “concession” to the national park – it’s just a restaurant in town. The third location is on Jamestown Island, and actually belongs to a private non profit, Preservation Virginia, that has owned that acreage with the original 1607 fort site since 1893. THe NPS cut off their access and refused to let them operate their own site for the first two weeks of the shutdown, until an agreement was reached this weekend when they and the Carrot Tree cafe out there were allowed to open.

  4. Aw, this was an extremely good post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a very good
    article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don’t seem
    to get nearly anything done.

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