Infamous restaurateur Ken Friedman’s recent attempt to partner with two female business owners for a new project in North Fork — miles away from his Spotted Pig, the restaurant at which he was accused of sexual misconduct — has failed.
Friedman was in talks with Jenni Lee and Jess Morris of popular Long Island coffee roaster and restaurant North Fork Roasting Company, though details about the new project were scarce. Friedman had applied for a liquor license in the area, and Jess confirmed to Eater last week that they were indeed working with him. But North Fork Roasting Co. released a statement over the weekend shutting the partnership down, Edible East End reports.
“After thoughtful consideration, we’ve decided against moving forward with this venture and instead, will continue to focus our efforts on our current business, North Fork Roasting Company,” the married duo said in a statement.
The news that Lee and Morris were partnering with Friedman — who was accused in 2017 of forcibly kissing staffers and other misconduct like inappropriate texting — was met with criticism on social media. Days later, the women announced that there was no formal agreement in place and that they were backing out of the discussions.
Friedman, meanwhile, has largely denied the allegations. Eater has reached out to him for comment. Update: Friedman tells Eater he plans to open a small antique shop in the North Fork to sell items he’s collected over time. He has rented “an old house” on NY Route 25 and had applied for a liquor license with Jenni and Jess. “It is an idea,” he says. “It hasn’t opened yet. Not even the antique shop.”
This isn’t the first time that the allegations against Friedman led to severed business relationships for the once-on-top restaurateur: Last year, he split with his longtime business partner April Bloomfield. And after the accusations were out, he tried to team up with Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman of East Village favorite Prune, but that also fell through, after the duo said they couldn’t reach a deal that was “just and ethical.”
North Fork Roasting Co. launched in 2015 and has gained popularity since, including a nod from Eater critic Robert Sietsema, who said the coffee there was every bit as good as anything found in Brooklyn.
Update: April 1, 2019, 12:40 p.m.: This article was updated to include comments from Ken Friedman.