eater.com – On Monday, Mario Batali stepped away from his businesses following an Eater report that he groped and generally harassed at least four women over a span of two decades. On Tuesday, the Times dropped its investigation into The Spotted Pig’s Ken Friedman, who also stepped aside from his restaurant empire following similar allegations. These follow the pieces on Johnny Iuzzini, on John Besh. The four men have lost TV and product deals, have been edited out of shows and dropped from charity boards. Partners are denouncing them, customers boycotting them. I can’t pity the men, but I feel for those in their orbits.
It’s depressing on a personal level, but on a professional level right now I have two major concerns to grapple with, both relating to what’s next. First, how do we cover these men’s restaurants? Covering the news of the restaurant of an alleged assaulter (be it Batali or Paul Quior Michael Chiarello) is somewhat straightforward. We cover it, but we give the context: “This restaurant is opening, but P.S. the person who owns it is accused of hitting his spouse.”
Less straightforward is our coverage in service-y maps and guides, where the author has less of an opportunity to provide context, especially as our recommendations also live in other places, e.g., in an OpenTable filter or in Google search results. I’m not going to tell someone whether to boycott a restaurant group or not, but I want them to have all the information.
Second question is just: Where do we go next? I have spreadsheets full of alleged bad men and an inbox stuffed with unsettling stories (remember: you can always email me). I can’t turn Eater into the Sexual Harassment Investigations Task Force and report out all of them right now, given our resources. But I can’t ignore them. And it doesn’t feel good to greenlight a story just because of the notoriety of the accused — e.g., you were assaulted by a lesser known chef and therefore you don’t get justice — but we have to start somewhere.
Yea this is a hard one and I’m not really sure of the answers either.