Chef Mario Batali and his partner Joe Bastianich are facing some potential trouble from the New York State Liquor Authority including massive fines and a liquor license suspension. Eater NY reports that in the NYSLA's notes (PDF, pgs. 54 - 67) for a March 25th meeting the docket includes several licenses belonging to Batali and Bastianich's various restaurants including Babbo, Otto, Del Posto, Esca, and Eataly. The various business entities are each said to have "interlocking interests" and "false statement claims."
Presumably this is because Bastianich is a wine importer who also sells wine at the restaurants? Per wine blogger Dr. Vino's analysis: "It's no secret that Joe Bastianich imports wine and sells that wine through his wine store and various restaurants ... . Early reaction to this item from several industry insiders is that the SLA has changed their attitude toward such cross holdings."
The proposed remedy (aka punishment)? A "global settlement" in which Batali and Bastianich pay a $500,000 fine and Eataly loses its liquor license for six months. And additional remedy calls for the removal of Lidia Bastianich as a principal of Eataly LLC. The meeting deciding the fate of Batali and Bastianich's bank account and Eataly's liquor license will take place on March 25th. As of yet Batali's camp has not commented on the situation. Eater has reached out the NYSLA for more. Stay tuned.
UPDATE 3/20 2:35pm: Batali reps send a statement to Eater NY: "EATALY and B&B HG have been and remain committed to fully addressing any concerns the Board may have."
· Mario & Joe's Group Might Temporarily Lose the Booze [ENY]
· NEW YORK STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY FULL BOARD AGENDA MEETING OF 03/25/2014 [NYSLA]
· Batali and Bastianich Group Threatened With Suspension [Dr. Vino]
· All Mario Batali Coverage on Eater [-E-]