Prune restaurateurs Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman, who announced in June that they would be partnering with disgraced restaurateur Ken Friedman at The Spotted Pig, have exited that deal, according to an email obtained by Eater. Hamilton wrote in an email to the staff of The Spotted Pig that they were unable to convince Friedman to give them control as the final decision-makers of the restaurant.
In a follow-up email, Merriman wrote, “I would like to tell you that I am so disappointed, frustrated and sad that Gabrielle and I can no longer continue at the Spotted Pig…. We wanted to be the final decision-makers at the restaurant -- The Buck-Stops-Here- type owners for the good / the bad / the ugly and everything that comes between in a restaurant. We can’t come to an agreement with Ken about such a structure.”
Hamilton and Merriman, who are married, shocked many in the food industry with their initial announcement that they were partnering with Friedman, whose restaurant is under investigation by the NY Attorney General’s office for its alleged culture of sexual harassment and discrimination (a third floor space at the Spotted Pig was known as the "rape room"). Also shocking was the way Hamilton categorized the initial partnership, telling the NYTimes “Everyone gets so excited when José Andrés goes into these natural disasters and helps people…They ought to be happy that these two women are going into a man-made disaster to help make things right.”
In a subsequent interview with Eater, Merriman said “What does it look like, should the guy not make a penny again? I think he should be able to. He did build an iconic restaurant. He and April built something special at the Spotted Pig, and I’m not sure his shitty, boorish, outrageous, disgusting behavior [should keep him] from ever earning a living again.” While Hamilton and Merriman’s emails to the staff of the Spotted Pig state clearly that they should be running the Spotted Pig, Hamilton also wrote, “I trust he knows better than we do what the path forward is for you all.”
Friedman himself has not yet publicly commented on their withdraw. We'll update if he does.