Wednesday, February 1, 2023 Feb 1, 2023
27° F Dallas, TX
Local News

Affidavit: Dallas Restaurateur Hunter Pond Threatened and Spat on Woman in Colorado

Hunter Pond, who owns Vandelay Hospitality, is wanted in Colorado after an incident in which he hunted down an alleged reckless driver and (again, allegedly) spat on her face. Vandelay operates restaurants like East Hampton Sandwich Co. and Hudson House.
By |
Image
Hunter Pond. Justin Clemons

Dallas restaurateur Hunter Pond’s Colorado arrest warrant stems from an incident in which he allegedly spat on a woman’s face, threatened to pull her out of a car, and yelled at her to “just go fucking die,” according to Colorado district court records obtained by D Magazine. The incident was captured on surveillance video, which was not immediately available.

Pond’s warrant was first reported last week by WFAA-TV, but the circumstances that caused its issue remained a mystery until now. Colorado law allows police records to remain confidential in open cases; D Magazine obtained the document through a court clerk. Pond owns Vandelay Hospitality Group, the company that operates concepts Drake’s Hollywood, East Hampton Sandwich Company, Hudson House, Brentwood, Lucky’s Hot Chicken, and D.L. Mack’s.

In the absence of an official police narrative to explain the warrant, Pond’s attorneys sued the woman, claiming that she instigated the incident by driving recklessly near Pond and his family on a country road. The warrant was for two misdemeanor counts: “harassment: strike/shove/kick” and “disorderly conduct: offensive gesture.”

“The incident in Telluride, Colorado is unfortunate, and has nothing to do with Vandelay,” Pond attorney Jason Friedman told D in a statement last Friday. “Mr. Pond and his family are the victims, not the perpetrators. But for the actions of a reckless driver nearly hitting Mr. Pond and his family, there would be no incident.”

D obtained the affidavit and application for arrest warrant filed by Mountain Village Police Department in San Miguel County Court.

The stories told by the lawsuit and affidavit only partially overlap in chronology. Both agree that the incident began on the evening of October 15, with Pond and his family walking down the middle of Mountain Village Boulevard, a two-lane country road. Both agree that the woman who reported Pond to the police drove close to the Pond family, swerved to avoid them, and shouted at the family to get out of the roadway. (Both reports also agree that the road has no sidewalk, although Google Street View shows a nearby walking trail.)

According to the lawsuit Pond filed, Pond found the driver in her car farther down the road and “demanded an explanation for her recklessness.” (D Magazine is not naming the driver because she is the victim of an alleged crime. Neither she nor her attorney were able to be reached.)

The lawsuit’s chronology ends there. The police affidavit does not.

The complainant parked her car outside a nearby hotel, where she was going to pick up her husband. Pond approached her here. She told police that she rolled down her car window and Pond yelled, “Are you a fucking cunt? I’m going to pull you out of this fucking car!” She said Pond continued yelling obscenities. (Hunter is Pond’s middle name; William is his first name.)

“[The driver] said a woman behind her car, with a child, told William to stop but he didn’t,” the affidavit continues. “[The driver] said that’s when William said ‘Just go fucking die’ and then spit on her entire face. [The driver] said William spit on her entire face to where she had to wipe it off from her forehead to chin. [The driver] said once William spit on her face, another male came and grabbed William and walked him away. [The driver] said the other male party decided to open her rear trunk to her vehicle as he was walking past it.”

On Tuesday, Friedman said he was unaware of the spitting allegation against his client.

“He’s going to appear as necessary and go up there and fight it,” Friedman said. “I deny her version of the story. I’m sticking with my client’s statement. We intend to fight it.”

The Mountain Village Police obtained surveillance video showing the entire incident, the affidavit states. The video shows a man as “his body language appears to show him angry” and shows him “appear to spit onto” the alleged victim. The video also shows the second man pull Pond away but then “open the rear trunk” of the driver’s car.

At the end of the initial police interview, the report says, she “denied any medical [needs] and said she just wanted to go home and wash her face.”

Hotel employees recognized Pond in the surveillance video because “the front desk staff is required to know every guest by their first and last name because they are trying to gain 5-star hotel status.”

The affidavit for Pond’s arrest warrant then lists how the officer verified Pond’s identity, including articles from D, the Dallas Observer, and the blog Foodbitch. Pond’s hotel room had apparently been booked by a Vandelay employee. Officers asked the driver to identify Pond based on photos from those articles, which she did successfully after looking through several photos she did not immediately recognize. The complainant stated that Pond had aged considerably since the articles were published.

Mountain View police left voicemails for Pond and requested the issue of an arrest warrant after he failed to reply. Friedman says Pond will travel to Colorado to face the charges.

“Mr. Pond was not aware that the reckless driver filed a misdemeanor complaint about his interaction with her, following her nearly hitting his children with her car,” Friedman told D on Friday. “Unfortunately, the Colorado Sheriff’s office put out a nationwide wanted poster for a misdemeanor, creating the false impression that he was on the lamb [sic]. We intend to address this matter legally in the Colorado Court, and expect Mr. Pond to be fully vindicated.”

Vandelay Hospitality Group also faces civil lawsuits over copyright infringement and hiring practices. On Jan. 20, Hudson House, a restaurant in Redondo Beach, California that opened in 2008, sued over Vandelay’s opening of a Hudson House in West Hollywood. The two rival Hudson Houses are about 20 miles apart, and the California Hudson House alleges that customers and vendors will be confused by the identical names.

Additionally, two former employees of Vandelay sued the group in 2021, alleging that they were fired for refusing to comply with discriminatory hiring practices. The former employees allege that they were ordered to fire employees for being Black, Mexican, or “ugly,” and that the restaurant Drake’s specifically cancels reservations of customers with Black-, Hispanic-, or Arab-sounding names who were not listed as VIPs.

In interviews, the former employees—and several more—told the Dallas Morning News additional details about alleged discrimination. The former employees’ lawsuits are scheduled to go to trial this summer. Pond and Vandelay have denied wrongdoing.

Author

Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

View Profile
Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.

Related Articles

Image
Police

Two Dallas Police Officers Face Assault Charges From 2020 Protests

One of the officers was fired last month after video showed him punching a man in Deep Ellum.
Image
Police

Dallas Police Association Takes Aim at DA Over Felony Charges Against Officers

After two officers were charged in connection with violence at summer 2020 protests, the DPA’s head says the DA is playing politics.
Victor Vescovo
Police

The Dallas Police Department Has a New Boat

The strange, true story behind the Dallas Police Department’s newest boat on Lake Ray Hubbard
By Tim Rogers