Police began investigating Ray after attendees at a Friday night cocktail reception accused him of dropping his pants to his ankles, “exposing his buttocks and genitalia.” According to the police report, one of the three women in the photo booth where Ray allegedly exposed himself said Ray’s “bare buttocks (were) approximately five inches from her pelvic region.”
”We were quite offended,” Erin Reitz, owner of housewares company The Shelter Collection and organizer of Parlour: Charleston, told The Post and Courier. “We felt very disrespected, and embarrassed for our clientele.”
Reitz had rented the private event space above One Broad from Ray because she believed it was an aesthetically perfect setting in which to showcase four women-owned businesses.
Initially, Ray attributed his conduct to misreading the room. “You know I’ve always been the life of the party,” Ray told The Post and Courier the day after the event. “But this attempt didn’t go over so well. I had a horrible lapse in judgment.”
Ray further vowed to take flashing out of his “repertoire.”
With backlash mounting, Ray on Monday stepped away from the day-to-day operation of his company. According to a press release issued by publicist Angel Postell, “Mike is seeking counseling and is incredibly sorry for his actions.”
But the expression of regret didn’t sway some members of Charleston’s food-and-beverage community, who called for restaurant owners to stop buying bread from Normandy Farm. As of this writing, only Short Grain has publicly indicated it plans to take its business elsewhere.
“This guy is just going to step down and get some counseling?” Lindsay Collins, host of podcast EffinB Radio, asked on Instagram. “It’s the same story every time. The very least other business owners (whether male or female) can do is stop supporting anyone you know (and I know that many of you knew) without integrity.”
In the wake of The Post and Courier’s report about Ray’s alleged conduct at Parlour Charleston, much of the industry conversation has centered on Ray’s “repertoire,” and longstanding keenness for defying social norms. A Facebook friend two days ago advised Ray to delete a birthday picture he posted in 2014, for which he posed with “a giant bread penis.”
Pastry chef Cynthia Wong referenced similarly shaped baguettes in an Instagram post on Monday advocating not “buy(ing) another crumb from Mike Ray.” According to a source close to the situation, Ray in 2016 sent two bags of penis-shaped loaves to a restaurant client who placed an order with another bakery. The incident immediately became part of Charleston food-and-beverage lore, but Ray was never called out publicly for it.
According to Charleston Police Department spokesman Charles Francis, Ray is currently in custody.