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Lawsuit Alleges Discrimination by Dallas Eatery

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Photo by Paper City Magazine

When Attorney Levi McCathern agreed to represent a former Drake’s Hollywood general manager, Glenn Govias, he was shocked and appalled to learn of his client’s mistreatment by the popular restaurant chain. “The deeper we dig, the darker the truth,” McCathern told Dallas Express. “Sexism and racism are par for the course at their restaurants. Only white, pretty, non-pregnant folks need apply.” 

Drake’s Hollywood is a “swanky, Old Hollywood-inspired steakhouse with sophisticated cocktails at a large, circular bar” located on West Lovers Lane in Dallas and its website features a photo of Marilyn Monroe laughing with friends. 

“Restaurant hosts are instructed to turn away non-white customers under the pretext of dress code violations and to reject reservations from guests believed to be of African-American, Middle Eastern, or Hispanic heritage because of their names,” wrote McCathern in his July 19 complaint on behalf of Plaintiff Glenn Govias. McCathern added that he is currently seeking Dallas residents of color who sought to dine at Drake’s Hollywood but were turned away to potentially join a class action lawsuit. 

“William Hunter Pond, who is the owner, went out of his way to create an image around his restaurant,” McCathern said in an interview. “There’s nothing wrong with trying to create an image, but he went out of his way to create an image that he thought would appeal to rich white folks.” 

Plaintiff Govias, who worked for Drake’s Hollywood for more than a year as general manager, sued the eatery alleging it discriminated against foreigners, black people, Hispanics, the obese, and the unattractive. Vandelay Hospitality Group (VHG) owns and operates Drake’s Hollywood. “This discriminatory treatment extended not only to employees but also to Vandelay’s customers who were systemically discriminated against on the basis of race,” the complaint alleges.  

After allegedly being injured on the job and filing a workman’s compensation claim, Govias was allegedly terminated for harassing an employee which he disputed in a Jan. 27 complaint filed with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division. 

“Following my compensation claim, I was unlawfully terminated for allegedly harassing an employee,” Govias wrote in the civil rights complaint. “Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, what was no more than a 30-second conversation with the waiter was somehow warped into employee harassment in order to terminate me in retaliation for my disagreement with VHG’s discriminatory forced ranking system, discriminatory guest screening, and my workers’ compensation claim.” 

Govias’ lawsuit was filed in Dallas County’s 162nd Judicial District Court, naming Chief Operating Officer Jon Peck, VHG and Pond as defendants. 

“Under the leadership of CEO William Hunter Pond, Vandelay’s corporate culture has become shot-through with racism, sexism, homophobia, and outright disdain for its employees and guests,” McCathern stated in the complaint. “Pond has fostered an environment where the most senior level of corporate management does not hesitate to demand that subordinates fire the black guy, the Mexican guy, or the ugly girl.” 

VHG also owns and operates the East Hampton Sandwich Company, Hudson House, Brentwood and D.I. Mack’s in Dallas.  

“While there are still many wonderful people working at the different Vandelay’s concepts, upper management and ownership cannot be trusted to run a business,” McCathern said. “They have no interest in apologizing for what they have done. They have no interest in changing the way they do things going forward.”  

Representatives for Drake’s Hollywood did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

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