Following in the footsteps of other restaurateurs who’ve received press coverage for sexual misconduct, Mike Ray on Monday afternoon gave up his day-to-day duties at Normandy Farm Bakery and One Broad.
According to a press release issued by Angel Postell, who volunteered to help her friend handle media inquiries, “Mike is seeking counseling and is incredibly sorry for his actions.” Ben Johnson, who’s been involved with the company for over a decade, will now serve as director of operations for both the bakery and restaurant.
Ray is currently under investigation by the Charleston Police Department for exposing himself Friday night at a private cocktail reception showcasing four female-owned businesses. Event organizers say Ray wedged himself between a camera and three women posing for a photo, and then pulled his pants down to his ankles.
”We were quite offended,” organizer Erin Reitz of The Shelter Collection, who had rented the One Broad event space from Ray, told The Post and Courier. “We felt very disrespected, and embarrassed for our clientele.”
On the day following the event, Ray called Reitz’s husband and featured artist Britt Bates’ boyfriend to apologize. He also spoke to The Post and Courier, vowing to take genital exposure “out of the repertoire.”
Both actions intensified community sentiment against Ray.
“I can’t figure out which is worse,” pastry chef Cynthia Wong on Monday morning wrote in an Instagram post, calling upon restaurants to stop buying bread from Normandy Farms Bakery. “The behavior or the 'Let’s Call The Husband/ Oh My Bad, Everyone Usually Loves My Creepy Criminal Party Stunts' non-apology for it.”
Wong’s post was liked nearly 200 times, but no restaurant has yet publicly cut ties with the bakery. Still, an employee at Brown’s Court Bakery said the Cannonborough-Elliotborough bread shop has picked up a few new wholesale orders in the wake of the incident.
“I know that I am better than my actions,” Ray wrote in his statement. “I hope to recover and come out a much better and healthier person.”
Among the other restaurant owners who have recently “stepped away” from their companies following allegations of sexual misconduct are New Orleans’ John Besh, San Francisco’s Charlie Hallowell and Mario Batali and Thomas Carter of New York City. In Charleston, Randall Goldman in February resigned his position as CEO of Patrick Properties Hospitality Group after employees accused him of sexually suggestive behavior.