The New York State Attorney General Is Investigating Mario Batali’s Former Restaurant Group

Joe Bastianich Photo: FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

The office of Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, is investigating the restaurant group owned by Joe Bastianich, the former partner of disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali. The restaurant group was previously known as Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group and is now called RSC Management Services, after officially cutting ties with Batali late last winter, a lengthy process that began when multiple sexual-misconduct reports surfaced in various media outlets, including the New York Times and 60 Minutes, starting in December 2017. Prior to the first report, published in Eater, the group had reported more than $250 million in annual revenue.

At a press conference today, James announced that her office also brokered a settlement in which, according to the Times, the Spotted Pig’s principal owner, Ken Friedman, “has agreed to pay $240,000 and a share of his profits to 11 former employees who have accused him of sexual harassment, retaliation, and discrimination.” Friedman will also “step down as an operator of the Spotted Pig and will no longer have any role in its operations or management.”

At that conference, James also announced that her office is actively investigating Batali and his former business partner. According to a person who spoke with investigators, the inquiry involves the restaurant group’s handling of past sexual-harassment complaints, which extend beyond Batali, and whether the company’s actions were inappropriate. It’s notable that the investigation is occurring after the company officially severed ties with Batali ten months ago.

The ongoing investigation into RSC could challenge the assertion Bastianich has repeatedly made that he was in the dark about the full extent of Batali’s behavior. Echoing previous statements, Bastianich told the Times in March, “While I never saw or heard of Mario groping an employee, I heard him say inappropriate things to our employees. Though I criticized him for it from time to time, I should have done more. I neglected my responsibilities as I turned my attention away from the restaurants. People were hurt, and for this I am deeply sorry.”

While the company immediately distanced itself from Batali in late 2017, employees have repeatedly voiced skepticism about whether Bastianich’s claim of ignorance is credible. Today, the company is lead by Bastianich; his sister, Tanya Bastianich Manuali; his mother, chef Lidia Bastianich; and chef Nancy Silverton. Additionally, after Batali stepped away from the group, but before his ties were officially cut, a new human-resources director, Missy Adriazola, was brought on as well.

N.Y. AG Investigating Mario Batali’s Former Restaurants