Taste Bar and Kitchen’s chef-owner Don Bowie confirmed with Eater that he and Kevin Kelley have been embroiled in a contentious legal battle, where Kelley formally parted ways with Taste earlier this fall. Kelley opened True Kitchen + Kocktails in August as a result of their split.
The fallout stems from lawsuits the two filed against each other, where Kelley accused Bowie of inappropriately taking out Payroll Protection Program loans in the restaurant’s name, and claimed he stole cash and food from the restaurant. In a countersuit, Bowie claimed Kelley compromised a pending business deal and ruined his reputation with the stealing accusations.
Bowie also accuses Kelley of stealing the recipes for several dishes at True Kitchen, including the popular chicken and waffles. Both Kelley and Bowie deny the accusations against them as they await the outcome of a judgment.
True Kitchen + Kocktails trended on social media earlier this week, not for their menu selections or ambiance, but over comments made by Kelley who blasted patrons for dancing in the lively restaurant.
“All this twerking s–t, don’t bring it here because we’re a restaurant,” Kelley says in the video. “If you wanna do it, get the f–k out my restaurant. Don’t do it again. I don’t want to hear it if you don’t like it, get out because I don’t need your money.”
While some watched with gaped mouths over Kelley’s fiery response stemming from ancestral movement, others pointed out that True Kitchen promotes a party atmosphere by positioning itself as one of the premier hotspots for Black patrons in the city. Others pointed to reviews accusing the restaurant of unprofessional service.
Kelley hasn’t budged in walking back his comments since the incident went viral.
“While I would like to apologize to the patrons who I offended by my poor choice of wording … my immediate reaction was this woman could fall through this window and … enough is enough,” he wrote underneath a photo on the restaurant’s official page.
Kelley said the controversy hasn’t stopped his business, signaling that some just don’t mind a plate of patriarchy with a side of misogyny.
“We’ve received an outpouring of support that we did not anticipate online and in person,” Kelley told TMZ. “This lets us know the public believes in our vision for the restaurant and they will support a concept working to fill a void in our communities.”
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