In the wake of multiple sexual misconduct allegations against chef Mario Batali, restaurant group Batali & Bastianich Hospitality (B&B) sent a letter to staff announcing several major changes, Eater NY reports. The letter, dated December 22 and signed by partners Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton, describes plans to rebrand the group with a new name and elevate the roles of Lidia Bastianich and Mozza chef Silverton.
“Though we cannot yet address specific initiatives, we are in the process of making strategic changes in an effort to improve the culture of our organization,” Silverton said in a statement to Eater, though she declined to discuss in further detail what that would entail. The LA-based chef started the Mozza Restaurant Group with Batali and Joe Bastianich in 2007. Lidia Bastianich, Joe Bastianich’s mother, has been a partner at many of B&B’s New York restaurants since the group’s formation.
In that staff letter, B&B remained similarly vague, aside from the fact that the women will take on “leadership roles in the company.” The letter reads: “We will be creating a new company whose structure and name will better reflect that our restaurants’ success is built on the contributions of many, not just one or two. This will include bringing on additional senior management experienced in ensuring everyone has a respectful workplace.”
Part of that job, it seems, is that Silverton and Lidia Bastianich will be responsible for putting an end to the “boys club” culture Eater NY described in a December 22 report; Batali also assaulted an employee at Osteria Mozza in 2010. That part of the letter reads in full:
Apart from steering our culinary direction, they are intent on making sure that no one experiences sexual or any form of harassment and that, if they do, our policies will be strictly and swiftly enforced and offenders will be held accountable. They will also help ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity for promotion within the company — and that ours is a company where you want that opportunity.
Although Batali is no longer involved in restaurant operations, including “not coming into” any of the properties, he is still a financial partner at restaurants like Babbo, Del Posto, and Otto. According to Eater NY, each restaurant in the massive B&B restaurant group has a different ownership structure, and so Batali doesn’t stand to benefit from every single property in the portfolio.
When the allegations against Batali broke, Silverton said it was “a sad day in the restaurant industry.” In a statement to Eater, she reiterated her support of women in her restaurants: “Sexual misconduct of any kind is unacceptable in our workplaces, on any level and I simply do not stand for it,” she wrote. She noted that all of the restaurants she and Batali own together “are led by women.”