Mario Batali exits restaurant business 15 months after sexual misconduct allegationsZlati Meyer, USA TODAYPublished 3:27 p.m. ET March 6, 2019 | Updated 4:32 p.m. ET March 6, 2019
Mario Batali is stepping back from his restaurant empire and was dropped as a host of ABC’s ‘The Chew’ amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Time
Beleaguered chef and former TV star Mario Batali is leaving the restaurant business.
Batali, who’s been accused of harassing and sexually assaulting women, sold his shares in the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group this week, the company said in an e-mail, adding that the deal terms are confidential. The Batali & Bastianich name is also going away.
Batali will soon end his affiliation with upscale Italian marketplace company Eataly, too, according to the New York Times.
Attempts to reach Eataly were unsuccessful.
The Bastianich family is well-known in the restaurant world. Matriarch Lidia Bastianich has six restaurants, is a best-selling cookbook author and an Emmy award-winning television host. Her son Joe is a noted restaurateur.
Embattled chef and ex-TV star Mario Batali is exiting the restaurant business. (Photo: Getty Images)
The industry responds: Suburban N.Y. chefs react to Mario Batali sexual harassment allegations
“I have reached an agreement with Joe and no longer have any stake in the restaurants we built together. I wish him the best of luck in the future,” Batali said in a statement to the Times.
The Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group said it now has 16 restaurants. The two Bastianichs plus their daughter/sister Tanya Bastianich Manuali, who’s worked for her mother’s empire, and chef and former Batali business partner Nancy Silverton will be involved in the new business.
“Each restaurant is its own business, so the ownership of each varies somewhat from restaurant to restaurant,” the company said in an e-mail. “Tanya and Joe have shares in all of the restaurants in which Mario had interests. Nancy, Lidia and others already have ownership interests in some of the restaurants.”
Joe Bastianich issued a statement in which he apologized and acknowledged that people were hurt by Batali’s alleged behavior.
“While I never saw or heard of Mario groping an employee, I heard him say inappropriate things to our employees,” he said. “Though I criticized him for it from time to time, I should have done more. I neglected my responsibilities as I turned my attention away from the restaurants.”
The Times cites anonymous ex-employees who said that they didn’t believe Bastianich was unaware of Batali’s alleged behavior.
A spokesman for Joe Bastianich declined to comment.
Starting a small business? Avoid these five mistakes
Batali’s downfall began in December 2017 when the food website Eater New York posted a story featuring women’s allegations that he’d touched them inappropriately.
“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,” Eater quoted him as saying at the time. “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.”
Reports of his alleged sexual misconduct prompted police investigations.
Batali was well-known even in nonfoodie circles, thanks to numerous cookbooks, a line of pasta sauces and TV appearances from the Food Network series “Molto Mario” to a co-host gig on the daytime show “The Chew.”
According to his website, he splits his time between New York and Northport, Michigan.
Late 2017 was the height of the #MeToo movement, which saw victims, most of whom were women, coming forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment in a variety of industries from Hollywood to technology, media to music, advertising to academia.
The Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group said that last year, it made “a significant improvement” to its harassment policies and oversight by enabling employees who want to make claims against a corporate officer or owner to contact its “outside investigatory firm, which has discretion to independently investigate complaints and report to outside counsel.”
The company also said it’s made significant changes to its human resources team and hired “an industry veteran in HR” to supplement the team, train employees and handle worker concerns.
A Florida statute portraying an iconic moment at the end of World War II was vandalized by a person spray painting hashtag #metoo on it. Buzz60’s Mercer Morrison has the story. Buzz60