More fallout for Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield’s restaurant empire following allegations of sexual misconduct: The duo is no longer involved in Salvation Taco, their Mexican restaurant in the Murray Hill Pod 39 Hotel.
The Times reports Friday that the hotel has taken over the restaurant, which opened in 2012 with tacos, tortas, and other Mexican fare. It was never as big of a critical hit as the Spotted Pig or the Breslin; Pete Wells at the Times dropped the duo’s first zero-star review on the restaurant in 2013.
But the report also says that the future of critical hits Breslin and the John Dory Oyster Bar, both in the Ace hotel, may be uncertain, too. Sources tell the paper that GFI Hospitality, which manages food and beverage for the hotel, is “renegotiating that contract,” though the company said no changes have been made.
This may just be the beginning for the dissolving of the previously lauded Friedman-Bloomfield empire. Last week, Bloomfield announced that she’s dissolving any business relationship with Friedman after a Times story where 10 current and former employees accused him of sexual misconduct, including requests for nude photos, inappropriate touching, and retaliating against people who complained. (He has apologized for “rude and frankly wrong” behavior but denied aspects of the accounts.) Staffers also accused Bloomfield of ignoring complaints; she has said she regrets not doing more.
Bloomfield did not say what the dissolving would mean for who keeps what restaurant. The chef-restaurateur duo has been working together for more than 15 years and rose to fame for convincing people that gastro-pub fare — paired with a casual, lively setting — is a worthy, higher-level culinary endeavor.
But staffers claim that all that success was paired with an environment where sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior was tolerated. Since news broke in December, many people have quit the empire. As previously reported, White Gold Butcher’s butchers Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest left in March; key players at SF’s Tosca Cafe left earlier this year as well. The Times now notes that Charlene Santiago at John Dory and Katharine Marsh at the Spotted Pig are also gone.
Business divorce is complicated, and as consequences of the #MeToo movement continue, more news will likely be rolling out in the coming months.