Mario Batali’s restaurant group confirmed it would be “ending” its partnership with the disgraced celebrity chef following the latest allegations of sexual abuse detailed in an episode of CBS News’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, but the company says it doesn’t expect that to happen until at least July.
Why the group is not severing ties sooner, however, appears to be tied to the negotiation surrounding a buyout of his interests in the Batali & Bastianich (B&B) Hospitality Group.
Batali’s business partner, Joe Bastianich, confirmed at the end of March — and well after Eater brought to light multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against Batali in December — that he and Batali were negotiating a complicated buyout of Batali’s stake in the business, and even that it was “going really well."
“The process of his divestiture is going really well considering how complex it is,” The New York Times quoted Bastianich as saying.
“The real point of beginning will be when he departs from the company,” added Bastianich. “That’s ground zero. It’s about creating a post-Mario world.”
Bastianich, 49, also admitted in December that he had “heard [Batali] say inappropriate things” to workers and “should have done more” to stop him, although he said he was unaware of any sexual misconduct.
But now, following new accusations from a former waitress at one of Batali's restaurants — who says she passed out after kissing Batali, only to wake up later surrounded by broken bottles and covered in scratches, and with semen on her skirt — the B&B Hospitality Group says Batali won't be out until at least July.
In a statement released Monday, the restaurant group confirmed the company’s “partnership with Mr. Batali is ending,” and reiterated that it was in the process of negotiations with the celebrity chef.
“We have been actively negotiating with Mr. Batali to buy his interests in the restaurants, and he and Joe Bastianich have signed a letter of intent that sets forth the broad terms to do so,” reads the statement. “We expect to have the final terms set by July 1, and that Nancy Silverton, Lidia Bastianich, Mr. Bastianich, and other current investors will participate in the acquisition.”
It was also unclear if there was any further urgency to buy out Batali’s stake following the “60 Minutes” piece, or if July 1 was always the projected date of the company’s final terms with the chef.
A representative for the B&B Hospitality Group declined to comment any further.
The statement also condemned the allegations against Batali as “chilling and deeply disturbing,” and claimed that they have been actively taking steps to remove Batali from the business since the accusations first emerged in December.
“We have worked for years with Mr. Batali to bring true, innovative Italian cuisine to our guests. He has been our partner and close friend, but the actions he has acknowledged required us to separate wholly so that we reinforce our core values for our employees and our guests," B&B Hospitality Group stated.
“We had taken a number of steps in the last six months to separate Mr. Batali from the business, including immediately removing him from any operations this past December and asking Ms. Silverton and Ms. Bastianich to take on business-wide leadership roles and responsibilities.”
The NYPD also confirmed an investigation into accusations against Batali following Sunday's episode of "60 Minutes," although it is not clear which allegations would be investigated.
Batali first announced he would be stepping away from the “day-to-day operations” of his entire restaurant group in early December, following Eater's initial report. Additional accusations of inappropriate behavior surfaced in the following weeks, including accounts from a former Del Posto hostess who said Batali touched her breasts, and that of a former manager at celebrity hot-spot The Spotted Pig who claimed to have seen Batali grope and kiss a woman who appeared unconscious.
In April, the New York Times further reported that Batali was “actively exploring” ideas for his future career. Following the latest allegations, Batali said in a statement that he is “not attempting a professional comeback,” but rather a “personal path forward” in which he “can continue in by charitable endeavors.”