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Boot & Shoe Service Employees Resign After Owner Accused of Harassment Refuses to Divest

More plan to follow in their footsteps

Sylvia K./Yelp

Three employees of Oakland’s Boot and Shoe Service quit in protest this weekend as the restaurant’s owner, Charlie Hallowell, refuses to divest from his businesses despite allegations that he sexually harassed workers. The trio of employees — general manager Emily Hayward, pastry chef Jenny Raven, and brunch manager Stephanie Chevalier — were making good on an ultimatum they and others issued last week: If Hallowell, who has “stepped away” from his restaurant operations, didn’t fully divest from his business, they vowed to walk out.

Three more employees — chef Gregg Cashmark, sous chef Matt Fishman, and cafe manager Greg Francis — say they plan to quit this week. Acting in solidarity, a larger group of employees called in sick to picket outside the restaurant on Saturday. They carried signs that read “I’m Not Cooking Because I Stand In Solidarity With Women,” and “no Creeps in The Kitchen!”

In December, the SF Chronicle reported that 17 women had come forward with allegations that Hallowell, who also owns the restaurants Pizzaiolo and Penrose, had created a “demoralizing work environment” and “insidious culture” at his restaurants. Hallowell, they claimed, verbally abuse employees who had no recourse at a business that lacked an HR department. One employee likened the owner’s speech to “sexual Tourette’s disorder.” Another, a head server at Penrose, recalled delivering a detailed work proposal to Hallowell only to be, allegedly, cut off mid-sentence when he told her he wanted to have sex with her.

In a letter shared with Eater SF, Hallowell wrote that he was “deeply ashamed and saddened” by the repercussions of his behavior. While an ongoing outside investigation takes place, he wrote that he would “be uninvolved with the daily operations of the business.”

That wasn’t enough for many Boot and Shoe employees, who wrote last week in their letting threatening to quit that “actively working to keep the business open while you are still a profit owner implicitly condones your behavior, trivializes the allegations brought against you and betrays our obligation to protect the financial and psychic well-being of our staff.”

On Sunday, the restaurant was closed for its typical brunch service, a move to “allow the staff to participate in the Women’s March.” Service resumed for dinner.

Boot and Shoe

3308 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94610

Penrose

3311 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94610 (510) 444-1649 Visit Website

Pizzaiolo

5008 Telegraph Ave, , CA 94609 (510) 652-4888 Visit Website

Boot and Shoe Service

3308 Grand Ave, , CA 94610 (510) 763-2668 Visit Website

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