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Popular Oakland Chef Steps Away Following Sexual Harassment Allegations

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Charlie Hallowell, one of the star chefs and restaurateurs of the Oakland culinary scene, has announced he is stepping down from the day-to-day operations at his three restaurants in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual harassment.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that "17 former employees accused him in interviews with The Chronicle of sexual harassment and pervasive verbal abuse."

In an email to the paper, Hallowell wrote that was "deeply ashamed and saddened" by his behavior.

"I can see very clearly that I have participated in and allowed an uncomfortable workplace for women," Hallowell wrote. "For this I am deeply ashamed and so very sorry. We have come to a reckoning point in the history of male bosses behaving badly, and I believe in this reckoning and I stand behind it. I understand that I cannot right the past wrongs, and at the same time, I take full responsibility for all of my actions."

In a letter to his staff published Thursday on the Bay Area food blogging site Eater, Hallowell reiterated his apology.

"I am clear that my behavior as a business owner was unfiltered and often completely inappropriate. For this I am filled with shame and have deep regret for the damage I have caused," he wrote. "I know that a written apology in no way justifies, excuses or "fixes" any harm I have caused."

Hallowell is the founder and owner of three popular Oakland restaurants -- Pizzaiolo on Telegraph Ave., Boot and Shoe Service on Grand and Penrose.

Business partner Richard Weinstein reportedly was to hold a staff meeting on Thursday to talk about the allegations and how the businesses will be moving forward.

In a letter to his staff, Hallowell said he would remain away from the restaurants until the investigations of the claims has been completed.

"In an effort to create real change, while the investigation is taking place, I will be uninvolved with the daily operations of the business," he wrote.

So far there is no word on whether any of the women plan legal action against Hallowell or the restaurants.

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