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Pancito & Lefty partners initiate split with chef-owner Robert Berry

Pancito & Lefty

Pancito & Lefty, a restaurant featuring Mexican flavors, opened in March. Wade Spees/Staff

Pancito & Lefty, which describes itself online as a “labor of love” for chef Robert Berry, is in the midst of an ownership dispute that has resulted in Berry distancing himself from the restaurant.

“I sincerely hope that everyone involved will view this as a positive opportunity to pursue the best outcome for Pancito & Lefty,” Berry says of the Upper King Street restaurant that he this spring opened with three partners.

According to Berry’s attorney, J. Taylor Powell of Lesemann & Associates LLC, partners John Frick and Jimmy Poole “sought to oust (Berry) as an employee.” In Berry’s estimation, that action ran afoul of their operating agreement; he’s now seeking to resolve the matter out of court.

Poole did not return a message seeking comment.

Berry remains a partner in the restaurant, which still features drinks and dishes based on the lessons he gleaned from three years spent traveling in Mexico, researching the nation’s regional cuisines and experimenting in his home kitchen.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished and will continue to raise the bar on the Pancito & Lefty experience,” Berry says. “I will do my best to not let partner disagreements affect the quality of the food or atmosphere.”

A graduate of Cordon Bleu and veteran of New York City kitchens, Berry in 2013 moved to Charleston to serve as Indaco's first executive chef. He lasted only a few months after the restaurant opened; Steve Palmer, managing partner of restaurant group The Indigo Road, at the time told City Paper that “it was a bad fit.” Berry and Poole, co-owner of The Alley, two years later announced their Pancito & Lefty plans.

Now Berry says he’s determined to stay in the city, and to keep cooking the food that interests him.

“While these issues get worked out, I will continue to protect the concept and brand that I worked so hard to create and nurture,” he says.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

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