In recent months, sexual harassment allegations have rocked the restaurant industry — as well as many other workplaces — around the country. Here’s a look at what’s happening with some of the affected restaurants, chefs and restaurateurs in Los Angeles.
The Hearth & Hound: A little more than a week after chef April Bloomfield and business partner Ken Friedman opened the Sunset Boulevard restaurant, sexual harassment allegations against Friedman surfaced in a New York Times article. Ten women accused Friedman of unwanted sexual advances made both in and outside of the workplace. Friedman has opened multiple restaurants with Bloomfield under their Friedfield Breslin LLC company, including the Spotted Pig, John Dory Oyster Bar, Salvation Taco and the Breslin in New York City, as well as Tosca Cafe in San Francisco. It should also be noted that chef Mario Batali, who is currently facing his own sexual harassment allegations, is an investor in the Spotted Pig. Just last year, Friedman was named outstanding restaurateur of the year by the James Beard Foundation.
In a statement responding to the New York Times article, Friedman said: “My personal and professional life was intertwined with our restaurants, and our staff. I own my behavior which can accurately be described at times as abrasive, rude and frankly wrong. The women who work at our restaurants are among the best in the business, and putting any of them in humiliating situations is unjustifiable. Some incidents were not as described, but context and content are not today’s discussion. I apologize now publicly for my actions.”
Bloomfield took to Instagram to release a statement of her own. In it, she said “in meetings with my partner, I lectured, and I demanded, but now I know that it wasn’t enough. Now I am learning the extent of events, often kept from me, and I know I should have been even more unrelenting. For this — way too late — I am truly sorry.”
According to a spokesperson for the Hearth & Hound, Friedman is on leave from the company with no role in the management, but he is still a shareholder.
Eataly: At least four women have come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against chef Mario Batali, according to a recent Eater article. If you’ve been following the celebrity chef’s career, you’ll know his reach stretches far beyond his 13 cookbooks and his TV hosting gigs on ABC’s “The Chew” — from which he was recently fired — and Food Network’s “Molto Mario,” which has been suspended. Along with Joe Bastianich and Lidia Bastianich, Batali is part of the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, which includes both Del Posto and Babbo in New York City, and a partnership with the Eataly Italian marketplaces, including the new location in Westfield Century City.
Batali responded to the allegations in a statement saying: “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family."
Batali also used his weekly newsletter to apologize to fans, and also offer a recipe for pizza dough cinnamon rolls.
Since news of the allegations broke, Batali has “stepped away” from an active role at Eataly, but he is still a minority shareholder of Eataly USA. The marketplaces have stopped carrying Batali’s label of food products, including pasta and sauces.
Mozzaplex: Also part of the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, in partnership with chef Nancy Silverton, is the Mozzaplex, which includes Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, Mozza2Go and Chi Spacca in Los Angeles, as well as the Pizzeria Mozza locations in Newport Beach and in Singapore.
“It is a sad day in the restaurant industry,” said Silverton in a recent statement. “Mario has been a mentor, a partner and a friend.” Silverton went on to call Batali a “man with boundless bravado and a man with flaws” and to say that “sexual misconduct of any kind is unacceptable in our workplaces, on any level and I simply do not stand for it."
While Batali has since “stepped away” from any operational role in the restaurants, he remains an owner.