Over the course of the last two weeks, Phantom Gourmet co-host and CEO Dave Andelman posted a series of offensive messages to Facebook. Many of the TV show host and CEO’s posts were critical of the ongoing protests against police brutality and anti-Black racism in policing that erupted across the nation after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin allegedly killed George Floyd. (See June 16 update below: Andelman has resigned.)
The posts — which have since been deleted — were seen by Eater Boston. Screenshots of the posts have proliferated on social media, specifically Twitter.
Andelman, who also co-owns Mendon Twin Drive-In with brothers Dan and Mike, who are also involved with Phantom Gourmet, offered a halfhearted apology, but that didn’t stop WBZ — the station that airs Phantom Gourmet — from putting the show on hiatus until further review. Representatives for Phantom Gourmet and WBZ were not immediately available for comment.
The social posts read like a list of right-wing talking points. In one, Dave Andelman recycled a common false equivalency deployed by right-wing pundits and politicians, claiming that the act of taking a knee is evidence of hating the United States.
For context: Former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick was famously criticized by right-wing media outlets and the president of the United States (who called the quarterback a “son of a bitch”) for taking a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against Black people. Along with his Trumpian take on kneeling, Andelman posted in support of Drew Brees — a white NFL quarterback — who recently said that he didn’t support anyone “disrespecting the flag.” (Like Andelman, Brees also released a flaccid apology.)
Some of Andelman’s anti-protest posts — which were made before Massachusetts initiated phase two of its reopening plan — were simultaneously critical of the state’s continued bans on dine-in service.
“If looters break glass walls, can the restaurants open for outdoor dining?” Andelman asked. “I hope they’re washing hands thoroughly after handing stolen goods to fellow thieves.”
Andelman’s comments on the protests tended to focus on looting and property destruction, which are seen by some as legitimate protests against a system of anti-Black policing that values private property over lives.
In another post, Andelman also engaged in fat-shaming, writing, “Maybe Back Bay restaurants and retailers could offer touchless, curbside looting and gyms could call workouts ‘protests against obesity.’”
For the uninitiated, Phantom Gourmet can best be described as a regional, low-budget version of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The Andelman brothers — Dave and Dan specifically, and sometimes Mike — travel across New England in pursuit of quadruple bacon cheeseburgers and the like. It’s been on the air since 1993, though the Andelmans have not always co-hosted.
Dave isn’t the only Andelman brother to express offensive opinions over the years. Mike, who used to host the now-defunct Phantom Gourmet radio show, made the following comments on air about a female worker at Grill 23 in a 2011 episode of the show:
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…She goes, “Two?”, and I said, yes. And she looks at us and says, “I’m sorry, we’re not open until 5:30, so there’s nothing I can do.”
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 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 ‘til 5:30.
Mike Andelman released an apology of sorts to the Boston Globe at the time, stating, “Our radio show is obviously satire.”
What isn’t satire: Phantom Gourmet is no longer on air — at least temporarily.
Update, June 16, 4:10 p.m.: Dave Andelman has resigned as CEO of Phantom Gourmet and will no longer appear in episodes of the television show, according to a statement posted to the Phantom Gourmet Facebook page today. He will also remove himself from day-to-day operations and relinquish ownership in the company, as well as resign from the Mendon Twin Drive-In.
Dan Andelman will take over as CEO of Phantom Gourmet, writing in the statement that Dave Andelman’s “recent social media statements made it clear that he cannot stay in a leadership role or any role with this company. We are passionate about food and restaurants, but we also vow to dedicate ourselves to advancing the causes of diversity, social justice, and equality. We plan to listen, learn, and act, while we also continue to entertain and inform our loyal food and fun loving fans.”
The statement also notes that the company is committed to prioritizing “finding and promoting local black-owned restaurants and foodservice companies owned and operated by minorities and people of color,” as well as providing diversity and inclusion training to all employees, “further educat[ing] all employees on Black Lives Matter and systemic racism,” and reviewing company policies and culture “to make sure controls are in place so nothing like this ever happens again.”