A lengthy profile on the fallout of last year’s extensive sexual misconduct accusations against disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali reveals that his restaurants — which he still owns despite promises for his divestment — saw as much as a 30 percent decline in business.
Grub Street reports that Batali’s B&B Hospitality Group shrank from 2,000 employees to 1,500 after the Sands Casino cut ties with the company, closing five restaurants in Las Vegas and Singapore. It will again become smaller with the closure of NYC’s La Sirena this month. Batali’s business partner Joe Bastianich — who was also allegedly responsible for the “boys’ club” culture, according to an Eater investigation — is now left running what’s left of the empire.
Batali and Bastianich reportedly cannot agree on a price to buy Batali out, and have “considered trying to offload large quantities of valuable wine to finance” it, according to the piece. Former employee Mark Ladner, who worked as Del Posto’s top chef for years, speculates that the hold-up is about ego, saying, “Mario isn’t about to let himself get taken advantage of by Joe because of the situation ... Someone’s got to win, and someone’s got to lose.” An unnamed source guesses at Batali’s portion being at one time worth $100 million.
In December 2017, four women accused Batali of inappropriate touching in an Eater investigation, followed by another seven women a few months later. The New York Police Department and Boston Police Department are investigating some cases as well. Batali immediately stepped away from operations, and he and Bastianich have been working on a deal to financially part ways since then. In the meantime, every sale at the restaurants — ranging from Babbo and Del Posto in NYC to Osteria Mozza and Chi Spacca in Los Angeles — is still profit for Batali.
The story dives deep into how Batali became who he is and why his behavior continued unfettered for so long, but glosses over a key reason: Many sources have said that Bastianich was aware of Batali’s behavior, although he denies it. This piece claims that “Bastianich has been firm in stating that he never personally saw Batali do anything untoward,” despite Bastianich telling Eater a year ago that he had “heard [Batali] say inappropriate things” to staffers, and that he “should have done more.”
Criticisms of the piece are already surfacing on social media for being too soft on Bastianich, who gets painted as the company’s last hope. Last year, multiple staffers told Eater that the restaurateur “sometimes toed the line of appropriateness” himself through “sleazy” behavior and “flirting.” Bastianich denied the claims.