Colorado

Dallas restaurateur wanted for harassment and disorderly conduct

Hunter Pond, CEO of Vandelay Hospitality Group, is wanted in San Miguel County.

SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colorado — A warrant has been issued in Colorado for a Dallas restaurateur charged with alleged harassment and disorderly conduct.

The arrest warrant was filed for William Hunter Pond, the 36-year-old founder and CEO of Vandelay Hospitality Group. The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office said Pond is wanted for harassment — strike/push/kick and disorderly conduct — offensive gesture.

Jason Friedman, Pond’s attorney, said in a statement to WFAA that Pond was in Telluride, Colorado, with his family for a wedding last October. After the wedding, Friedman said Pond was walking back to their hotel with his family when a woman who appeared to have exceeded the speed limit turned toward Pond, got within 2 feet of his family, and didn’t stop to see if someone got hurt.

Afterward, Friedman said at her hotel that Pond saw the same woman stop outside the hotel. He expressed his displeasure with her behavior, Friedman said, then went to sleep in his hotel room and left Colorado the next day.

“He was not issued a ticket, nor did the police search for Mr. Pond to question him about the incident,” Friedman wrote. “Mr. Pond was unaware that the reckless driver filed a criminal offense charge for his interaction with her after she almost hit his children.”

Pond filed a lawsuit against the woman for assault and negligence, Friedman said, and expects to be exonerated. A copy of the lawsuit shows it was filed in Dallas County.

The lawsuit filed states that Pond approached the woman, knocked on her window, and demanded an explanation for her recklessness.

“Unfortunately, the defendant was extremely frivolous and, like many millennials, did not want to take responsibility for her own actions,” the lawsuit reads.

Vandelay Hospitality Group has opened several restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with more planned in Houston and Beverly Hills, California. The Group’s brands include Hudson House, Drake’s Hollywood, DL Mack’s, East Hampton Sandwich Co. and Brentwood.

Pond’s restaurant group has faced lawsuits in recent years alleging turning away black patrons and discriminating against employees.

According to the Dallas Morning News, two former employees of Vandelay Hospitality Group filed two lawsuits against the group, accusing them of firing employees who are black, Hispanic or “ugly.”

Other Drake’s Hollywood employees at the time told the Dallas Morning News that employees were encouraged to turn away customers who didn’t radiate fortune, and some said the restaurant used a dress code to keep the “rabble” out.

Pond denied at the time that any of the claims were true, calling them “ridiculous,” according to the Dallas Morning News.

In 2015, Pond was featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” Restaurant Owners.

Joshua Bonee, executive chief and equity partner at one of the group’s restaurants, Lucky’s Hot Chicken, left the restaurant in November 2020 citing a toxic corporate culture, the News reported.

Police are asking anyone with information leading to Pond’s arrest to call the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office at 970-728-1911.

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