A second high-profile restaurateur is facing allegations of sexual misconduct from former employees this week.
In an explosive story published in the New York Times, 10 women who were former employees at restaurants including Spotted Pig (which Friedman owns with chef April Bloomfield) detail a culture of silence and fear paired with persistent sexual assault, with a private space at Spotted Pig coming to be known as "the rape room." Many allege that they were afraid he would have them blackballed from the hospitality industry if they spoke up.
“Some incidents were not as described, but context and content are not today’s discussion,” he said in a statement to the publication. “I apologize now publicly for my actions.” The statement said that his behavior "can accurately be described at times as abrasive, rude and frankly wrong” and his female employees “are among the best in the business and putting any of them in humiliating situations is unjustifiable.”
Friedman's friend Mario Batali announced on Monday that he would step away from his restaurant group for an unspecified amount of time following an Eater NY story that published accounts from four women who say he sexually harrassed them. The New York Times story about Friedman includes allegations that Batali also behaved inappropriately to women on multiple occasions in Friedman's establishments; one former manager of Spotted Pig said she intervened when she saw on a security camera monitor that Batali, "who was drunk, was groping and kissing a woman who appeared to be unconscious." Batali apologized in a statement released to the publication on Tuesday, saying, “Though I don’t remember these specific accounts, there is no question I have behaved terribly. There are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused.”
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