The bi-costal restaurant empire built by chef April Bloomfield and restaurateur Ken Friedman is starting to crumble in the wake of multiple sexual harassment allegations that were recently lodged against Friedman by former employees of their group.
As the Spotted Pig’s chef and restaurateur enter the final negotiations to dissolve their partnership, the Times reports that they have lost their six-year-old Mexican restaurant Salvation Taco in Manhattan’s Pod Hotel, which is now being operated by the team that runs the hotel. Several months before the sexual harassment allegations, Friedman and Bloomfield also closed Salvation Taco’s sibling establishment, Salvation Burger, in another Pod-owned hotel several blocks away.
As Kim Severson and Julia Moskin note, there have been several major shifts at the duo’s other, more popular restaurants across the country, and more changes are likely on the way. After a failed attempt at buying the restaurant from Friedman and Bloomfield, the chef at Tosca Cafe in San Francisco, Josh Even, resigned this month along with general manager Dana Katzakian. The duo’s new LA venture, the Hearth and Hound, recently lost its head chef, pastry chef, and wine director. And two months ago, Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest, the star butchers behind the team’s NYC butcher shop/cafe White Gold, also left the group.
GFI Hospitality, the company that tapped Friedman and Bloomfield to run two restaurants in New York’s Ace Hotel (the John Dory and the Breslin), is reportedly renegotiating its contract with the team, although a rep says that “nothing has changed.”
Last week, as part of a 60 Minutes report that details sexual harassment and misconduct allegations lodged at both Friedman and his investor Mario Batali, Bloomfield released a statement explaining that she was “in the final stages of severing” her partnership with Friedman. And now, Friedman’s lawyer tells the Times: “It has been a complex and protracted process, but Mr. Friedman hopes and expects the separation will be completed shortly. Given ongoing discussions we don’t believe it would be appropriate to say more at this time.” Severson and Moskin write that the chef and restaurateur are “slicing up an empire, not surrendering one,” so it’s quite possible that Bloomfield and Friedman will each retain ownership of individual restaurants.
On Monday, the day after the 60 Minutes segment aired, the NYPD announced that it was investigating a claim from a woman who says that she was sexually assaulted by Batali on the third floor of the Spotted Pig back in 2005. And now, Friedman is saying (through a lawyer) that he banned Batali from attending events on the third floor of the restaurant five years ago, a claim that Spotted Pig employee Theresa Callaghan backs up. Batali, however, denies this allegation. Meanwhile, the chef and his partners are planning to shutter three of their Las Vegas restaurants.
Stay tuned for more updates on the carving up of the Spotted Pig empire as they become available.
• The Spotted Pig Restaurant Empire Is Fracturing [NYT]
• Major NYC Restaurateur Ken Friedman Accused of Sexual Harassment [E]