Mario Batali severs ties with longtime restaurant partner


NEW YORK (AP) — Celebrity chef Mario Batali has given up financial stakes in all his restaurants, severing a 20-year business partnership with restaurateur Joe Bastianich, more than a year after several women accused Batali of sexual harassment and assault.

The move announced Wednesday comes months after the original timeline for Batali’s divestiture. Bastianich and partners bought out Batali’s share in such high-end eateries as the Michelin-starred Babbo in Greenwich Village and Del Posto, a fine-dining Italian spot in the New York City’s Meatpacking District.

In a two-sentence statement issued through a spokeswoman, Batali said simply he had reached an agreement with Bastianich and will “no longer have any stake in the restaurants we built together.”

Batali, known for his bright orange kitchen Crocs and ponytail, wished his former business partner the “best of luck in the future.”

Bastianich and his sister, Tanya Bastianich Manuali, said in a statement to employees that business ties with Batali are now fully severed. Other restaurants the two had stakes in had already closed. Manuali recently took over day-to-day operations and oversight of the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, forming a new company to operate 16 remaining restaurants.

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Batali and Joe Bastianich had originally been scheduled to part ways in July. They would not discuss additional details of their agreement. Bastianich and Manuali are the children of chef Lidia Bastianich.

In addition, the U.S. branch of Eataly with several locations, including a flagship in Manhattan, said in a statement Wednesday the Italian food emporiums are in the process of acquiring Batali’s minority stake.

At one time, Batali’s reach included restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston and Singapore. He became a celebrity with appearances on the Food Network shows “Molto Mario” and “Iron Chef America.” He was one of the hosts of ABC’s “The Chew,” which has been canceled.

Sexual harassment and assault allegations against Batali have not produced any charges. The accusations surfaced in late December 2017, torpedoing his career. In an email newsletter he distributed at the time, Batali apologized for past behavior and wrote:

“I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team. My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.”

He did not detail what behavior he was referring to. He was heavily scorned online for a postscript he included: “In case you’re searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite.”

The recommendation came complete with a link to the recipe.

Batali is said to now be living in Michigan.

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