In an unanimous vote, the Charleston Wine + Food board voted today to remove member Randall Goldman, Patrick Properties Hospitality Group CEO. The vote came a day after the Post & Courier published a story where eight former Patrick Properties employees accused Goldman of being a “chronic trespasser of social boundaries, prone to doling out backrubs, planting kisses and sending unseemly late-night text messages against recipients’ wishes.”
On Tuesday, Goldman filed an injunction to prevent the board’s vote.
Following a vote to go into executive session, the board deliberated for two hours before inviting the public to return to the board room. Board chair David Marconi then made a request for public comment. Angel Powell, owner of South City Public Relations, was the only person to speak out addressing her own allegations which she’d shared in the Post & Courier story.
In front of a packed room that included multiple members of the Food and Beverage industry including Charleston Grill’s Mickey Bakst, Indigo Road’s Steve Palmer, and NICO’s Nico Romo, Powell said, “There’s been a lot of talk about people complaining anonymously and I’m here to put a face to the complaints … obviously there are a lot of things you’ve read by now and they’re all true.” Powell went on to say, “There’s nothing to gain except knowing that we stood up and said our truth and I want to be here for Gillian [Zettler, Wine + Food director] and for those who are still afraid. No matter what you read, there are 50 other stories.”
Following Powell’s comments, Marconi called the vote which was unanimous.
Goldman abruptly left the conference room without comment, but Patrick Properties Hospitality Group attorney Allan R. Holmes provided a statement that reiterated Celeste and Charles Patrick, owners of Patrick Properties, support of the CEO.
“Rather, it is anticipated that our employees — all of whom are adults — will express themselves if they feel their space has been invaded, or they prefer a handshake to a more gregarious hug,” it reads.
Festival attorney Molly Cherry provided the following statement: “Charleston Wine + Food upholds the highest standard of ethics and moral integrity and this code of conduct guides their work in achieving their mission. Once information regarding Randall Goldman was presented to the Charleston Wine + Food board of directors, they began an investigation. There is a process for removal of directors under the bylaws of the foundation, and they followed them. Mr. Goldman is no longer a member of the festival board of directors. The board is looking forward to a successful 2018 festival.”
The Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, of which Goldman is president, has put forth a statement saying, “”Our team’s experience with Randall Goldman has always been professional. We have not experienced any inappropriate behavior by Mr. Goldman, and consequently have no plans to take action at this time.” GCRA’s board includes Vice President Sam Mustafa (Charleston Hospitality Group), Treasurer Athan Fokas (Old Town Grill), Chris Sullivan (Carolina Ale House), Jessica Slaughter (FIG/The Ordinary), Caitlin Toscano (Le Farfalle), Jonathan Kish (Queen Street Hospitality), Robin Griffith, and Tommy Hall, Hall Management Group.
A publicist for the James Beard Foundation, where Goldman is a current member of the National Advisory Board, says she’d provide a statement this afternoon.
The Charleston Wine + Food festival begins Wed. Feb. 28.
UPDATE: Three hours after the board’s decision, Patrick Properties attorney Allan Holmes provided an additional statement on behalf of Celeste and Charles Patrick and Patrick Properties. It reads:
We would like to reiterate that we take allegations and rumors of misconduct very seriously. We have repeatedly invited anyone with concerns to contact us so that we can hear and promptly address any allegations. Let us firmly state that Patrick Properties Hospitality Group is committed to a safe workplace, will investigate any complaint, and will take appropriate action whenever warranted.
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