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Hungry Pigeon to reopen; owner addresses racism and the restaurant’s future

Pat O'Malley, cleaning up a mess made by his now-former partner, says the changes will include guidance from a human relations firm and help for staffers who wish to chart career paths.

Hungry Pigeon, at Fourth and Fitzwater Streets in Queen Village.
Hungry Pigeon, at Fourth and Fitzwater Streets in Queen Village.Read moreDAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer

Pat O’Malley, now flying solo, plans to reopen the Queen Village restaurant Hungry Pigeon on Saturday, nearly two weeks after his former partner’s racist statement on Instagram drew criticism and a staff revolt.

O’Malley took to Instagram on Thursday to offer the ways he would address systemic racism, while creating a healthier workplace and addressing inequalities in the food-service industry.

The restaurant, he wrote, will address diversity and human relations issues, and will begin ways to help entry-level staff, such as bussers and food runners, find a clear career path; work with Sharing Love and other organizations to contribute food; and participate in the @bakersagainstracism campaign.

View this post on Instagram

Hey all, this is Pat O’Malley. I apologize for not getting to this sooner, I’m pretty clumsy on social media. I wanted to quickly respond to some of your previous questions about how I am going to address systemic racism, create a healthier workplace, and to address inequalities in the food service industry. 1) working with WWDG to implement ongoing diversity training program for all staff. 2) working with an HR consultant firm to overhaul and customize our employee manual and additional policies to protect staff and provide transparency for lines of communication and development and growth in the company. 3)implementation of schedules that provide built in programs for skill building in “low skill jobs” (busser, food runner, porter) so these employees have a clear path to higher skilled and higher paid roles. 4) working with Sharing Love and other organizations to contribute food to those in need on an ongoing basis. 5) Participating in @bakersagainstracism next week! (Let me know if there is a particular Philly based organization who you would like to see these funds go to.) These are a few things that I believe will have an ongoing effect on both individuals and kitchen(all) culture as a whole. I hope to introduce myself to you in person if you would consider visiting us again. We will be back open starting tomorrow (Saturday) Moving forward and upward together.

A post shared by Hungry Pigeon (@hungrypigeonphilly) on

Hungry Pigeon — which opened to acclaim in January 2016 at Fourth and Fitzwater Streets — will offer takeout, delivery, and walk-up sales. Weather permitting, three tables of four will offer outdoor seating.

The name and visage of cofounder Scott Schroeder have been scrubbed from the restaurant’s website but not its Instagram account.

On May 31, as protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd continued in Philadelphia and around the country, Schroeder’s posts on his now-deleted Instagram account included one that read, “Thank you Black America. You had me at hip hop and fried chicken.”

Former Hungry Pigeon workers posted grievances on Medium on June 2, citing the posts and saying they did not come as a surprise “given his bullyish behavior in the workplace.” Neighborhood groups posted a letter addressed to Schroeder on the restaurant’s door that concluded with, “Racism will not be tolerated in this community.” Someone wrote “Scott Schroeder — owner of Hungry Pigeon — is a racist!!” on the bench in front of the restaurant.

The workers’ group did not reply to messages seeking comment on the reopening.

Schroeder and O’Malley are entering a separation agreement. Schroeder said he wanted to step away from the restaurant business and "do something more meaningful and helpful to underprivileged people.”

Schroeder’s departure was one of a series of protest-related fallouts in Philadelphia’s food scene. Di Bruno Bros. offered free lunch to police, and then rescinded the offer and apologized after employees spoke out publicly and threatened to strike. In response, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 president John McNesby said cops would boycott Di Bruno’s.

Kensington brewery Evil Genius also issued a statement clarifying its standpoint and explaining its actions after firing its head brewer for social media posts expressing anti-police sentiments.