Nearly two years after numerous sexual misconduct allegations involving Mario Batali came to light, Italian market and restaurant chain Eataly has finally cut ties with the celebrity chef, who helped bring the brand to America and promote its growth in a handful of cities across the country.
Eataly spokesman Chris Giglio tells the Associated Press that the company has purchased Batali’s minority interest in the company, and the chef has not had any direct involvement with the brand since December 2017. The move comes just a few months after Batali finished divesting from the restaurant empire that he helped build with partner Joe Bastianich.
Back in May, Batali pleaded not guilty to a criminal indecent assault and battery charge filed by a woman named Natali Tene, who claims that the chef groped and kissed her against her will at a bar next to Eataly Boston back in 2017. After agreeing to stay away from Tene, the former Food Network star was released on bail; another court hearing is slated for August 30. If he’s ultimately found guilty, Batali could face jail time and be forced to register as a sex offender. While a number of women, including three former employees of his restaurant group, have claimed that Batali sexually harassed and/or assaulted them, it was the first time the chef faced criminal charges for his alleged sexual misconduct.
Batali’s relationship with Eataly began back in 2010, when the chef and his partners Lidia and Joe Bastianich helped open the giant 50,000 square foot location of the Italian market and food hall in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Eataly NYC was such a massive hit that it spawned similarly gargantuan spinoffs in Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Downtown Manhattan. With each successive opening of these stores — which all boasted an array of Batali-branded products — the chef remained Eataly’s biggest cheerleader, often appearing at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and hyping the markets on his now-defunct talk show The Chew. But the day after Eater NY’s report about Batali’s alleged sexual misconduct was published, the chef’s branded products were stripped from Eataly’s shelves. And now, 20 months later, the Italian food behemoth is officially out of the Mario Batali business.
While the famous chef will no longer make any money from Eataly or the other businesses that he opened with partner Joe Bastianich, Batali still retains a stake in the Spotted Pig, a restaurant that’s owned by Ken Friedman, another empire builder who’s facing allegations of sexual misconduct from former employees.
Stay tuned for updates on Batali’s criminal charges as they become available.