Sonoma Valley Sun


Protesters to Mattson: What’s the plan?

Posted on February 2, 2024 by Sonoma Valley Sun

In December, employees of the Lefever/Mattson owned Cheese Factory visited the plaza merchants bearing champagne to invite them to a January 30 “Block Party.  We happened to find out about it while shopping at a local merchant.

On Lefever/Mattson owned websites:  Sonoma’s Best and Sip Savor Stay, one can plan their entire “real Sonoma experience” by visiting only businesses owned by them. They tout themselves as “world renowned and locally owned, reinventing and elevating the hospitality experience in Sonoma with world-class service while honoring and preserving local heritage”.

We ask – Exactly how are they reinventing and elevating?  They are buying up formerly locally owned businesses and putting them under their corporate umbrella.  Employees managing these businesses may live locally.   We do not understand how their business practices support the local business community or give back to the community. Their advertising has the appearance of holding themselves above the rest.  

On January 30, Wake Up Sonoma planned a protest to let them know once again how we feel. It appeared to us from the outside that there were more of us than people attending the cheese party.  We think this means something about how the merchants feel about them. 

Our protest was peaceful.  No Sidewalks were blocked. The police claimed a Mattson employee told them someone was hit with a protest sign. There was no evidence this happened. The police showed up three times, called by a Mattson employee. This was uncalled for. The police actions felt intimidating, and interfered with our right to peacefully protest. 

Ken Mattson was there, but didn’t come out or speak to anyone including reporters from 2 news outlets.  Alex Mattson told a reporter, “Our whole goal is to provide a business here to kind of honor what was here originally. We want everything that we do to respect the heritage and grow Sonoma into the future.”

Our protest was to let the community know Lefever Mattson is not “kind of” honoring our Sonoma community, and we do not know what their vision is to “grow Sonoma into the future”. 

Why won’t they tell us?   

Honoring our community is honoring everyone, embracing diversity, and supporting everyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, sex or religion.  Tim Lefever has founded organizations that are openly anti-LGBTQ and anti-equal rights. This ideology is not something we support.

For over 5 years we have heard a lot of carefully scripted sound bites but all we have seen is derelict projects, green fencing for years on end that result in squatters, rats and accumulating debris. We see their refusal to talk honestly with local press, buying properties to house their friends or out of the area workers, and a planted church pastor, with no evidence of giving to those in need in Sonoma.  

Our protest asked once again, what are you doing?  Why are you not being transparent?  Instead of trying to win over the local businesses with wine and cheese, why not start really supporting this community?

— The officers of Wake Up Sonoma
Lisa Storment
Josette Brose-Eichar
David Eichar


Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA