Celebrity chef Mario Batali is officially out of his restaurant empire. After more than a year delay, Batali and longtime business partner Joe Bastianich have cut financial ties following sexual misconduct allegations against the chef, the Times reports.
Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group — the company behind stalwarts like Del Posto and Babbo — will end, and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, sister to Joe, will head up operations at a new company for 16 restaurants across the country. News went out to staff on Wednesday, noting that the Bastianichs had taken over all of Batali’s financial stake. They did not disclose a number on how money Batali received, though some have guessed his stake was at one point worth millions.
Batali, accused of behavior such as inappropriate touching of staffers, left day-to-day management of the restaurants in December 2017 after an Eater investigation detailing decades of alleged misconduct. But with ownership in the restaurants, he still benefited financially from the businesses. Shortly after, Bastianich vowed to buy him out of the restaurants that Batali helped turn into culinary powerhouses.
They initially planned to finalize the buyout by last summer; the process dragged. B&B manages all the restaurants, but individual ones each have different investors and ownership stakes. With the changes, famed LA chef Nancy Silverton (already a partner at Osteria Mozza and Chi Spaccha) and chef Lidia Bastianich (Felidia) will be partners at the new, to-be-named company. And Del Posto executive chef Melissa Rodriguez and longtime general manager Jeff Katz have been added on as partners at the Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant.
Though beleaguered Batali is now out of the business, many staffers have told Eater that Joe Bastianich to Batali is not a “good cop, bad cop” situation. Multiple former and current employees accused the restaurateur of playing a big role in creating a “boys’ club” culture that allowed misconduct, claiming that he was aware of Batali’s alleged bad behavior. Joe Bastianich acknowledged hearing the chef say “inappropriate things” but denied any further knowledge.
The accusations against Batali have had financial impact on the restaurants over the last year. Five restaurants closed in Las Vegas and Singapore, reportedly translating to a 30 percent decline in business. In New York, Michelin-starred Chelsea restaurant La Sirena shuttered last year as well, though it had been struggling even before allegations came out.
Remaining New York B&B restaurants include Del Posto, Babbo, Lupa, Otto, Becco, Casa Mono, Esca, Felidia, Bar Jamon.
But this doesn’t mean diners are totally clear of spending money at Batali restaurants in New York. He’s famously an investor at the Spotted Pig, owned by fellow accused restaurateur Ken Friedman, and he’s still in the process of selling his stake in food market and retail shop behemoth Eataly.
See the full letter to employees below.
This story has been updated with more background information.