Disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali formally divested himself of his restaurant empire on Wednesday, over a year after allegations about his alleged sexual misconduct made headlines.
According to the NY Times, Batali sold his shares in the former Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group to his partner, Joe Bastianich, and Joe's sister, Tanya Bastianich Manuali, who will regroup their 16 restaurants under a new name. Meanwhile, artisanal food mall Eataly "is in the process" of buying out Batali, a spokesperson told the Times.
Before back-to-back articles in the Times and Eater surfaced damning allegations about Batali's workplace behavior—alleged transgressions ranging from verbal harassment to groping to rape—he and Bastianich presided over a raft of upmarket restaurants, including Michelin-starred Babbo and Del Posto in Manhattan.
In a statement to the Times on Tuesday, Bastianich reiterated his ignorance with respect to Batali's alleged behavior, while admitting that he'd heard his partner use questionable language. "I never saw or heard of Mario groping an employee," Bastianich said. "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."
A trio of anonymous employees, however, told the Times that Bastianich played an active role in establishing a sexist, hostile work environment that (allegedly) enabled Batali to act with impunity.
Although Batali offered a self-promotional apology after the reports came out, and although he retreated from his ventures while he privately plotted his next move, Batali & Bastianich's businesses suffered. Reservations sagged. The Sands casino cut ties with the hospitality group, shuttering six restaurants domestically and internationally. Meanwhile, the NYPD opened an investigation into three incidents that allegedly occurred in New York City, quietly closing it last summer.
The new hospitality group has not yet been named, but will be helmed by Bastianich Manuali. California-based Nancy Silverton, and Bastianich matriarch Lidia Bastianich (of Felidia) will also be partners.