The board of the Capitol Market has cited racism, inappropriate treatment of the LGBTQ community on the part of ownership, along with a lack of advertising and inconsistent hours of operation as reasons for not renewing its lease with Soho’s restaurant and owner Sharon Sohovich. The board has also mentioned that Ms. Sohovich has expressed a desire to retire, which created instability at her business.
Who doesn’t want to retire? The restaurant business is a tough, tough venue to make a living, whether you are the staff, cook or owner. Very few independent restaurants make it past three to five years, let alone 18. You have to have excellent food, excellent employees and excellent organization/management, along with a willingness to work your backside off. Soho’s has demonstrated this by surviving for nearly two decades.
I think the market board would have a very difficult time proving racism and inappropriate treatment of the LGBTQ community because, if this were true, Soho’s would have been closed a long time ago.
And, I would like to ask the board if all of their vendors in the Capitol Market are required to advertise a certain amount per year.
Finally, I would ask the board if their lease agreement with Soho’s specified a specific minimum for advertising and that the restaurant’s hours of operation be consistent with the rest of the market’s hours?
Perhaps one of the real reasons the board wants Soho’s out is that they have another restaurant ready to move in.
Perhaps employee William Harris said it best when he told the Gazette-Mail he believed Ms. Sohovich had been treated badly since her husband’s death, because the board didn’t want Ms. Sohovich to have the restaurant. One has to wonder if the board would have treated Bill Sohovich in this manner. The board’s action doesn’t pass the smell test.
Soho’s is a popular gathering place and an outstanding restaurant with hard-working and professional employees. The quality of food served is among the best in the Kanawha Valley. It serves as an anchor at the Capitol Market to pull in individuals who also shop at other venues.
At issue here is power, money and control, not fairness.
If the board wants to do the right thing, then it should re-evaluate the decision to terminate, because a lot of good people are going to lose their jobs. And no matter what restaurant replaces Soho’s, it will be hard-pressed to even come close to the atmosphere, quality of food and expertise of the employees and owner.