Over the past few weeks, more than 30 women have come forward on Instagram with allegations of mistreatment — several of which were allegations of sexual misconduct — by Diego Macias, one of the co-owners of the popular Bushwick joint, Archie’s Bar + Pizza, at 128 Central Avenue, at Starr Street. Macias was terminated on July 14, and the pizzeria abruptly closed its two locations on July 23.
“Closing Archie’s was an incredibly difficult decision to make but a necessary one,” says Dimitri Karapanos, who opened Archie’s with his wife Gerelyn in 2014, in a statement to Eater. “Due to complex, personal circumstances, on top of the current global pandemic, I had no other choice. Closing was not an easy decision. We’re heartbroken by this.”
In multiple posts on Instagram, several former staffers who worked under Macias at both Archie’s and Dos Toros’ Williamsburg location, where he was a manager from 2010 to 2014, allege that he inappropriately used his managerial position to coerce employees into sexual relationships, then would subsequently ignore or mistreat them following the encounters. Many of the women who published their allegations on Instagram requested anonymity in their posts.
Macias declined to comment when reached by phone.
The allegations first came to light on Chloe Richards’s Instagram account @Partydaddd. Richards worked as a shift employee at Dos Toros in 2013, when she was 19, and Macias, who was the general manager at the time, was 30. Richards alleges that Macias groomed her by “bringing me coffee, small touches, or flirtatious comments in passing when no one else was around to see it.” Other women who came forward alleged similar behavior. Richards and Macias then allegedly had multiple sexual encounters, after which Macias would immediately be cold to her after, and resume communication at work.
This was a pattern, according to numerous women whose stories were posted on the @Partydaddd account: Macias would allegedly flirt with staffers, have sexual relations with them, and then become cold or hostile in the workplace. Richards pulled the posts from her Instagram earlier this week, telling Eater, “I took all the stories down to protect the girls from liability since some are filing reports and it’s now a legal matter.”
The New York City Police department declined to say if any police reports had been filed regarding Macias.
“We do not comment explicitly on the possible or current status of investigations,” says Detective Annette Shelton in a statement to Eater. “The NYPD takes sexual assault and rape cases extremely seriously, and urges anyone who has been a victim to file a police report so we can perform a comprehensive investigation, and offer support and services to [the] survivor.”
Dos Toros’s employee handbook at the time expressly forbade romantic relationships between managers and non-managers, a company spokesperson tells Eater. “Diego asked me to keep our sexual relationship a secret because he was my boss,” Richards says. “I complied, knowing the compromising position we would be in if it got out that we were seeing each other. In retrospect, it was the perfect excuse; I never questioned the power dynamics at play in our relationship because I chalked it up to him merely wanting to protect our jobs.”
Richards tells Eater that she did not end up filing a complaint with Dos Toros and couldn’t leave her position because she needed the income.
“I didn’t know that I had the grounds to do so,” Richards says. “We received zero sexual harassment or assault training, so I fully considered my situation with Diego as an issue outside of the workplace.”
Feeling powerless at work, Richards says that she tried to reason with Macias on her own. After seeing each other for over a year, Richards started seeing him less frequently. Realizing how much his behavior affected her, she began therapy and first came out about her experience, without naming Macias, during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in 2018.
Following the publication of Richards’ allegations, Dos Toros told Eater in a statement that the chain was establishing a Code of Conduct for supervisors and was exploring partnering with anti-harassment organizations to take a more prominent role in these issues. Additionally, it will immediately require all restaurant managers, supervisors, and hourly employees to undergo a newly refined sexual harassment training course, according to a spokesperson.
“We take these allegations very seriously and have profound empathy for any victims of the behavior described at Dos Toros in 2010 and 2013,” a spokesperson for Dos Toros says in the statement to Eater, also referencing other former Dos Toros staffers who came forward on Instagram alleging similar instances of workplace misconduct. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment of any kind.”
Macias was terminated by Dos Toros in 2014 because of performance issues. Macias’s alleged pattern of behavior continued at his next job, as the co-owner of Archie’s, numerous former staffers at the Bushwick pizzeria allege: secretive flirting, followed by a sexual relationship, and then mistreatment.
Anavel Rivera, a former Archie’s employee, describes the environment perpetuated by Macias as unprofessional and inappropriate. Macias offered her a job at Archie’s after the two had concluded a sexual relationship, but, she says, he still acted inappropriately toward her and other staffers, consistent with allegations from his time at Dos Toros: He engaged in sexual relationships with multiple employees, and allegedly sent unsolicited shirtless photos of himself to staffers.
“I maintained a social and professional relationship with him,” says Rivera. “On one occasion he hit on me and I had to lay a boundary. On some occasions, Diego would show up to Archie’s actually blitzed. It was invasive, but being as he was the ‘cool’ boss, no one ever said anything to him.”
On Richards’s Instagram account — where several former co-workers and customers at Dos Toros and Archie’s recounted similar behavior on the part of Macias — two former Archie’s staffers say they went to the pizzeria’s owners to complain in 2018.
“With any investigation, there are legalities, and we are bound by them, which prevents us from saying more,” Karapanos tells Eater in a statement. “We are required to uphold the confidentiality of the whole process — from the original complaint, through the investigation, through the resolution.”
Multiple former Archie’s staffers tell Eater that Macias was reportedly required to go to therapy after the complaints, but Archie’s co-owner Karapanos would not confirm to Eater precisely what action the pizzeria took as a result.
“We were promised there would be action taken,” the former staffers wrote on Instagram. “Turns out it was a slap on the wrist. A slap no one took seriously. We felt like clowns. After feeling this new level of disrespect we could no longer work with dignity for an establishment that clearly didn’t care about our experiences or us. So we quit.”
The final straw for Macias appears to have been allegations made by a now-former Archie’s employee, who wrote on her Instagram Stories that she confronted Macias for dating another woman while he was still in a relationship with her, after which the mistreatment at work began, she alleges. Upset with Macias’s behavior at work, she went to Archie’s management on July 12, according to her now-deleted Instagram Stories. Macias was reportedly fired two days later, on July 14.
Archie’s management did not disclose the reason behind the firing, but once Richards went public with her allegations against Macias on July 18, the pizzeria posted on its now-deactivated Instagram account that it had fired Macias and cut him out of any future profits. It also mentioned an ongoing investigation, and wrote that a portion of the pizzeria’s sales would go to the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.
As more allegations began to surface on Richards’s Instagram account in the week after her initial post on July 18, things took a turn. A few hours before the end of their shifts on July 23, Archie’s announced to staff through chat app GroupMe that both locations would permanently close, without addressing the allegations of sexual misconduct.
“They just left us high and dry, they left a bunch of people without jobs with a bunch of questions and no answers and it’s probably the worst response to something like this,” says Rivera, who was taking a break from the pizzeria due to the pandemic, and had planned to return when business picked up again. “They decided instead of continuing the conversation and being advocates for our community to just shut the hell up and disappear.”
This story has been updated to more accurately characterize Macias’s behavior and to remove the name of a former employee at her request.
Victims of sexual misconduct or abuse are encouraged to call the NYPD Special Victims Hotline at (646) 610-7272.
Irina Groushevaia is a non-binary Russian writer covering the intersections of food, culture, and LGBTQ+. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram.