Chef Elizabeth Schultenover moved to Charleston to join Parisian restaurant Felix Cocktails et Cuisine, but five months after the opening, she has left the restaurant. Following her departure, she is alleging there’s a high amount of harassment in Charleston workplaces.
Schultenover told ABC News 4 that customers would try to touch or kiss her while she was in an open kitchen, call her “honey or sweetie,” attempt to follow her home, or send her inappropriate photos after hours on social media. Schultenover also said that a vendor groped her and made inappropriate comments during a business transaction. In the interview, she does not specifically name the restaurant where the incident takes place.
Previously, Schultenover worked at Table (Asheville, NC), Knife & Fork (Spruce Pine, NC) and Cucina 24 (Asheville, NC). Schultenover told ABC that of all the locations she has worked, Charleston has the highest level of harassment.
A statement from Felix owner Felix Landrum states, “As a policy we address these types of issues the minute they arise. Any concerns brought to our attention were addressed.” They later sent a follow-up email to Eater, saying: “Elizabeth did not quit, she was let go for performance reasons. One claim of harassment was brought to our attention and we immediately acted to fix the situation.”
Eater reached out to the chef, who confirmed her departure was not related to sexual harassment claims.
The interview I did with Channel 4 was already in the works before Felix and I parted ways. The interview was intended to give a voice from experience to the growing issue of sexual harassment in restaurants, and I was the second part of a larger piece, offering the perspective of a woman in the professional kitchen to support the effects of the #metoo movement. The piece was intended to give strength to other women in the same position, offer possible solutions to the problem, and not give any official reason for my departure from Felix. I chose not to mention the specific restaurant to protect my friends still employed there. I never insinuated that was the reason we parted ways, but my experiences stated are true and documented. Creatively Felix and I grew apart in our vision, but I wish my friends at Felix well, and hope that more attention is focused on maintaining a healthy working environment for all employees moving forward. Additionally, I will continue to work with local organizations and restaurant associations to raise awareness and create solutions for what can no longer be misquoted as being a “growing trend” but what is a reality to female hospitality workers.
Update: April 25, 5:40 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect Eater’s conversations with the restaurant and Schultenover after the publication of the ABC News story.