A few items on the agenda of an upcoming State Liquor Authority meeting could spell the end of an afternoon glass of rose at one of the Batali empire restaurants—at least for the next six months. Wine website Dr. Vino discovered some interesting items relating to Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group, which operate Eataly, Babbo, Del Posto and other notable restaurants in NYC and beyond. According to the agenda [pdf], the restaurants are charged with "interlocking interest" and "false material statement" by the agency. If the charges are sustained, it could lead to a suspension of the group's liquor licenses.
SLA documents call for a "global settlement" that includes a $500,000 civil penalty and a six month suspension of Eataly Wine LLC. It also calls for Joe Bastianich's mother, Lidia, to be removed as principal of the company. The agency refers to these terms as an "offer," presumably giving the restaurant group an opportunity to counter or fight the charges completely. We reached out to the SLA for clarification and we'll update if we hear back.
Both Dr. Vino and Eater point to Joe Bastianich's business importing wines to the restaurants and his store as a possible motivation behind the charges, though "insiders" say this could be the SLA flexing its muscles or changing a previous position regarding cross holdings and interlocking ownerships. If the charges hold up, however, it's going to put a serious damper on our summer rooftop drinking.
A Batali spokesperson declined to comment.