Sunday, September 26, 2021

Protestors at Savannah restaurant demand accountability in restaurant industry

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) – More than two dozen people protested the owner of a new Savannah restaurant in front of the establishment Wednesday morning.

The protest happened in front of The Haunt, located off Abercorn Street in downtown Savannah. The organizer told WTOC that the group is looking for accountability, and even more broadly, to end a certain culture they say exists in Savannah’s restaurant industry.

“I think it’s important that we come and support all of the women that have come forward. We’re here to basically just to say that we believe women, and that it’s important that cycles of abuse are stopped in this town,” said Maeve Browne, who organized the protest.

The accusations were made against the owner of The Haunt, Clay Ehmke. WTOC has reached out to Savannah Police, and so far, no official reports, complaints or charges have been filed against Ehmke, nor have any cases been brought against him in court relating to the accusations heard at the protest on Wednesday.

When WTOC reached out to Ehmke for comment, we got a statement that said in part, “Our restaurant is committed to supporting our employees and providing a safe work environment. Sadly, we have been subjected to some negative statements by aggrieved former employees. None of the allegations have any credibility.”

The statement continues, “Despite numerous egregious posts on FB and Instagram, there have never been any court proceedings, criminal or otherwise, initiated by any accuser of assault towards our owner Clay Ehmke. All allegations remain unsubstantiated.”

In addition to specifically addressing the owner of The Haunt, the protest’s message was an indictment of a culture protestors say exists within the restaurant industry as a whole.

“There’s so many instances of substance abuse, assault, sexual assault, rape in the restaurant industry. It’s really important that people are held accountable, and it’s really important that people feel their voices are heard when they come forward and say that they’ve been wronged,” said Browne.

As of Wednesday, no official reports, complaints or charges have been filed against Ehmke.

WTOC will continue to follow this story and will provide updates as they become available.

You can read the complete statement from Ehmke below:

“We opened the Haunt on July 27, 2021, to bring a world-class, Forest-to-Table culinary experience to Savannah, Georgia. Our restaurant is committed to supporting our employees and providing a safe work environment. Sadly, we have been subjected to some negative statements by aggrieved former employees. None of the allegations have any credibility. Despite numerous egregious posts on FB and Instagram, there have never been any court proceedings, criminal or otherwise, initiated by any accuser of assault towards our owner Clay Ehmke. All allegations remain unsubstantiated. Mr. Ehmke was made aware in April 2021 that a group of people wanted to ruin his reputation and he was warned to not even open his new restaurant. The negative posts surfaced coincidentally on the same week as the opening of The Haunt. Our doors remain open at the Haunt. Please visit us at thehauntsav.com

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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