Less than a week after Eater NY broke the news that disgraced restaurateur Ken Friedman planned to partner with North Fork Roasting Company on a new project in Long Island, New York, that deal is over. Edible East End reports that Jennilee Morris and Jess Dunne, co-owners of the popular North Fork coffee shop, changed their minds about the project after social media backlash. They released the following statement:
“While we had preliminary discussions with Ken Friedman about pursuing this new local business opportunity, there was no formal agreement in place. 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.”
Friedman tells Eater that the local business opportunity Morris and Dunne refer to in their statement is a “small, humble antique shop on the [North Fork] to sell the stuff that will never go into a restaurant of mine.” Friedman rented a house for the shop and with Morris and Dunn, applied for a liquor license. “It is an idea. It hasn’t opened yet. Not even the antique shop,” he says.
At the end of 2017, the New York Times published a report on multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Friedman, including unwanted groping, forcible kissing, and lewd text messages. Since then, Friedman split with longtime business partner chef April Bloomfield. He retained ownership of their first and most celebrated restaurant together, the Spotted Pig. All of this was familiar to the East End locals who reacted to the news of the Friedman-Morris-Dunne project, possibly called “Days of Wine and Roses,” with anger and disappointment.
It’s unclear why Morris and Dunne agreed to explore a partnership with Friedman, but they aren’t the first women to try working with the restaurateur since the allegations became public. Last year, Prune chefs Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman announced plans to run the Spotted Pig with their friend Friedman. While there was plenty of outrage that the chefs would partner with him in that case, public opinion wasn’t the reason for the deal’s failure. Hamilton told New York Magazine that they couldn’t “ethically, financially” agree to let Friedman keep his salary at the restaurant.
Although Friedman released a statement apologizing for his actions back in 2017, he’s largely denied the worst of the allegations and has shown no signs of stepping away from the industry. For now, though, North Fork Roasting Company won’t be helping with his comeback.
Update: April 1, 2019, 12:45 p.m.: This article was updated to include comments from Ken Friedman.
• North Fork Roasting Company Responds to News of Friedman Project [Edible East End]
• Ken Friedman Is Plotting a Project on Long Island [ENY]
• Disgraced Restaurateur Ken Friedman’s North Fork Project Won’t Happen After All [ENY]