Charlie Hallowell’s tenuous position in the Bay Area restaurant scene continues in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment by over 30 former employees six months ago. The latest maneuver by the restaurateur, who is already planning an eventual return to his original restaurant Pizzaiolo, is the sale of a second restaurant, Penrose.
He first sold Boot & Shoe Service to former Pizzaiolo assistant manager Jen Cramer and her husband Richard Clark in April. Now Penrose has a new chef-owner in Rico Rivera, another former Pizzaiolo employee who is currently executive chef of Flora in Uptown Oakland.
Rivera told the SF Chronicle that he will begin working at the restaurant in “six or seven weeks” with plans to take over fully in October. During that time, Rivera will be on the payroll of Hallowell’s restaurant group, which is co-owned by his business partner Richard Weinstein. Weinstein, who was also accused of sexual harassment by former employees, is the owner of the building that houses Flora, Rivera’s current employer.
Though Boot and Shoe Service will retain its name and concept, Rivera indicates that he might change Penrose’s name down the line; the restaurant would otherwise remain similar in terms of food and interior.
Though he “stepped away” from restaurant operations following the allegations, Hallowell (and Weinstein) retain control of Pizzaiolo, the Berkeley property that was intended to open as a second location of Boot & Shoe Service, and the former Grand Fare property that Hallowell had intended to reopen as a multi-faceted all-day cafe.