Should We Trust the ‘New’ Phantom Gourmet?

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement

Posted: 08/31/2020

It was only a matter of time.

You find out people’s true colors by their consistent actions over time, not just by what they say, but by what they do. Of course, people who are truly open to critical thinking, life-long learning, and opportunity can change.

It’s been more than nine and a half years since the infamous Phantom Gourmet radio program when Michael Andelman made the following comments about a hostess at Grill 23 in Boston:

“We walk in and the hostess who’s the typical hot woman, rude, cold- as-ice, never would talk to me in high school-type girl…”

“Danny, the fact that you consistently take the side of the restaurateur or just a really stupid maître d’ or a hostess over your family time and time again…”

“And it’s not like this was 8pm on a Saturday night. It’s 5 o’clock, and guess what, if the owner of Grill 23 was standing next to this dumb hostess, this moronic hostess who was just getting her, uh, jollies off by sticking to the rules of her little brochure in a little binder, this little monkey, her only job is to look at this binder and say don’t let people in ‘till 5:30….”

“There’s not a hostess who’s not good-looking, because they’re incompetent and can’t do anything else in life. If you can’t model, when you’re good-looking enough and not tall enough to model, you stand behind a little box and say, How many?”

During that radio program, Dan Andelman asked Michael and his father, Eddie, “How did she look from the back?”

On 2/25/11, I published a blog post, To Mike and Dan Andelman: A Call for a Public Apology.

In that post, I included the content of an email I sent to the Andelman brothers, including the email address of everyone I could track down who worked at the TV station that aired their program. Excerpts from my email:

“You had a week between radio shows to reflect on your comments that were posted on the 96.9 website (2/12/11 Eddie and Mike go to a Celtics game), and to consider issuing a public apology on your 2/19 program. You failed to do that, and mysteriously the audio has been removed from the 96.9 website.

The only public comments I have seen from either one of you are in a piece by Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein in The Boston Globe on 2/23:”

“Phantom Gourmet” host Mike Andelman is surprised by the online criticism concerning comments he made on “The Phantom Gourmet” radio show about restaurant hostesses. Ranting about a Grill 23 hostess who wouldn’t seat him in the dining room before the dinner hour began, Andleman said all restaurant hostesses are attractive but incompetent. Yesterday, he told us the comments were meant to be facetious. “Our radio show is obviously satire,”…

As I noted in my follow-up blog post on 3/14/11, Dan did apologize on their 2/26/11 radio show:

Dan: “I apologize for my rude, insensitive comment about her back.” [To Dan’s credit, he did sound sincere.]

During that same radio program, Dave (returning from vacation) reacted to a replay of the original, offensive radio segment:

Dave: [No acknowledgement of Mike’s ‘dumb’, ‘moron’ and ‘monkey’ comments.] I don’t even think it’s interesting enough for us to be replaying it on our own show. [3 brothers laughing hysterically] I’m waiting for the bomb to drop. That was it? That’s what you had to bother me for in Aruba and all week?

Therein lies the problem. By virtue of ignoring the offensive comments, and supporting his brothers, Dave now joins Mike and Dan in thinking it’s ok to make and defend disingenuous, odious remarks.

Dan: Michael, now that we’ve heard it, do you have something to say to New England?

Michael: I do. Number one, um, I, if I do find out who the hostess is at Grill 23, and the Boston Globe says they’re not sure who it is, ok, I’ve talked with my wife, um, I want to ask the hostess on a date. I have a hall pass if she would like to go out with me. I will take her out for dinner, for dancing…

I don’t know Danny, you are always the ombudsman of this program. Dad said something about winos, you talked about her [hostess] wearing yoga pants and I called her a moronic hostess. You tell me Danny, you’ve got the final word.

Dan: Frankly, not even in the top hundred offensive or amusing segments we’ve ever done.

Dave: No, there’s nothing even remotely interesting about it.

Dave: They [The Globedo sort of try to claim there’s a massive online controversy. That’s just not factually accurate. There’s like 4 guys talking to each other online, I mean that’s ridiculous.

Mike: I do apologize when I said all hostesses are moronic and stupid, and I do 100% apologize. I’m not including the average-looking ones who do a very good job. [Dan laughs hysterically.] I am only talking about the hot ones who have no idea…

Mike wasted the opportunity to do the right thing and sincerely apologize. Instead, he made a mockery of his misogyny. As I noted in my 3/14/11 blog post:

None of the hundreds of current and former restaurant industry workers who contacted me over the last few weeks is buying Mike’s childish, “I was just kidding, I’m just a jackass” defense. Everyone remotely involved with the restaurant community, with any credibility, understands exactly what the Andelmans are all about. Introspection and decency are lost on them. Their long-standing reputation for crassness and classless behavior has been bolstered by this incident.

But it wasn’t Michael’s pre-#MeToo antics, and Dave and Dan’s enabling comments that put the Phantom Gourmet TV program in the penalty box. After Dave wrote a series of Facebook posts mocking recent protests against racial injustice, the Phantom Gourmet TV program was temporarily shut down. According to Boston Magazine on 6/15/20:

“Dave Andelman has resigned as CEO of Phantom Gourmet, effective immediately. Per a post on the Phantom Gourmet Facebook page, Andelman will no longer appear on episodes of the TV show, will not be involved in any day-to-day operations, and will relinquish his ownership in the company. He will also resign from the Mendon Twin Drive-In. Dan Andelman, who co-hosted the program with his brother Dave, will take over as CEO.”

This isn’t the first time that the three Andelman brothers, who are all involved in the Phantom Gourmet empire and also co-own the popular Mendon Twin Drive-In movie theater, have been swept up in controversy. In 2011, Mike Andelman made headlines after an appearance on the Phantom Gourmet radio show in which he called a hostess who refused to seat him early at Grill 23 “a little monkey” and added that restaurant hostesses are often attractive because “they’re incompetent and can’t do anything else in life.”

After more than 2 months “on hiatus,” programming of Phantom Gourmet resumed on Saturday, 8/29/20. According to CBS Boston on 8/28/20:

“We’re going to look at this as the ultimate teaching moment. We’ve listened, and we’ve learned. And I think once we could put our actions to positively affect the community, I think we can really do some good,” said Dan Andelman.

Andelman says those actions include a complete overhaul of the company’s culture. At the helm of diversity and inclusion training will be community activist Tito Jackson, who’ll also help Phantom use its platform to elevate minority owned businesses.

“We are looking at an extended, at least year-long engagement, to do executive coaching, working with the actual staff, [we’ll be] looking at hiring,” Jackson said. “The real objective is working with people who are going to hold them to the grindstone when it comes to doing the right thing over the course of time. And changing the show, so the show is a reflection of the folks that are in the community.”

When Dan Andelman posted on his personal Facebook page on Saturday morning, 8/29/20, “See you on TV today,” I added the comment, It will be interesting to see if new programming is preceded by a long-overdue apology to the Grill 23 hostess and all hostesses denigrated by Michael on the old radio program, and for Daves’s tone deaf mockery of Black Lives Matter. Now is the perfect ‘teachable moment’ to take responsibility and genuinely apologize, instead of the old, “We were just kidding” excuse… I also attached my old blog post from 3/14/11. [To Dan’s credit, he did not delete my post.]

I recorded and watched the openings, closings, and most of the programming of the 5 Phantom Gourmet segments aired over the weekend. They all appeared to be repeats. None of them included an opening apology or statement about why they were shut down, or what they have “learned” during their ‘sabbatical.’ Another lost opportunity to demonstrate genuine remorse.

What I did see was a segment stating that, “The Phantom Gourmet supports black-owned restaurants like 50Kitchen in Dorchester,… Medford’s Neighborhood Kitchen,… and Suya Joint in Roxbury… Help preserve Boston’s black history and businesses at”

Questions remain:

  1. Will anyone at Phantom Gourmet issue an apology or statement before their first new, original episode?
  2. Will Michael Andelman ever genuinely apologize for his misogynist comments and degradation of women?
  3. Is the latest PR from Phantom Gourmet tokenism or are they sincere in their “complete overhaul of the company’s culture?”
  4. Will Dave continue to be compensated by PG, despite his public relinquishing of ownership? [Most probably.]

As I noted in my tweet over the weekend, We’ll see……..

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