Ferndale's Public House reopened under new ownership this week with a makeover that includes a lush garden area, but quickly stepped in the mud of its controversial past with a promotional video critics say sexualized its wait staff.
The 9 Mile restaurant and its neighbor, AntiHero, were sold this summer by the Working Class Outlaws restaurant group following a series of sexual harassment and misconduct accusations leveled against former operations manager Jeff King.
Now under the ownership of Kramer Restaurant Group (Rosie O'Grady's, One-Eyed Betty's), the restaurant is again facing backlash, this time for a dance video that shows six young women in work uniform swinging their hips, flipping their hair and posing on top of tables to the tune of Britney Spears' rendition of "I Love Rock 'N' Roll."
"(It's) definitely a lack of understanding of your market," one commenter wrote. "Looks like the folks that went through this last time did not learn much."
Another commenter called the video "harmless" if the women featured wanted to be involved.
The complaints prompted Public House to remove the clip from its social channels and assistant general manager Tucker Williams, who worked under the previous owners, to issue a lengthy apology on a Ferndale community Facebook page.
"I worked for Public House when the community canceled us last time," Williams wrote. "I know firsthand what it feels like to feel ashamed to say where you work because of things that are beyond your control, and there was absolutely no way I would intentionally put my team or these professional creatives through that."
The former dancer says they were responsible for the video and that their intent was to promote the garden area and for people to "FEEL the fun they could have by seeing it."
The restaurant, which specializes in new American fare, reopened Tuesday.