Anthony Cailan, a prominent sommelier accused of sexual assault last week by four women who spoke to the New York Times, has resigned from Nolita restaurant the Usual, where he worked as beverage director. Cailan, 29, opened the restaurant with brother Anthony Cailan, the Usual’s chef, last summer. A general manager at the Usual confirmed Cailan’s departure to the Times.
Cailan was a rising star in the wine world, celebrated on the cover of Wine & Spirits magazine in September. He moved to New York from Los Angeles, where he’d worked at places like Bestia and his brother’s restaurant, Eggslut. The sommelier wielded growing power and influence in the wine industry, but according to two women who came forward by name and two more who spoke anonymously, he allegedly abused that power.
One former mentee and prospective employee, Raquel Makler, alleged that Cailan, “forcibly kissed and touched her, pulled off her clothes and repeatedly tried to penetrate her while she was frozen with panic” at his New York apartment, according to the Times. But Makler feared that rejecting Cailan’s advances could hurt her career, she says.
Cailan has denied the allegations against him.
In response to the Times story, Wine & Spirits posted a message pleading ignorance of the allegations against Cailan. “Wine & Spirits does not condone sexually inappropriate behavior and we hope this will be a catalyst for change in our industry,” a representative wrote.
The wine industry is one still strongly dominated by men: In more interviews with the Times, 30 women in the industry pointed to a culture of routine harassment.
The Usual’s general manager Bogdan Docu told the Times he was unaware of the allegations against Cailan when he was hired. The restaurant does not tolerate workplace harassment, Docu told the Times. Alvin Cailan, Anthony’s brother, is still the Usual’s chef.