Famed Restaurateur Behind NYC's The Spotted Pig Accused of Sexual Harassment
The New York Times story, published on Tuesday afternoon, details several allegations against Ken Friedman, who owns the West Village restaurant with chef April Bloomfield
Allegations of sexual harassment have been directed at another restaurant industry powerhouse as the result of an extensive investigation.
Just one day after news of Mario Batali's alleged decades-long history of sexual harassment broke on Eater, the New York Times published a story detailing accusations against Ken Friedman, the restaurateur behind The Spotted Pig in New York City, where April Bloomfield is the chef. In the piece, several female employees recount instances where Friedman groped them without their consent, as well as made sexual comments, sent explicit text messages and threatened retaliation. The restaurant, which opened in 2004, is backed by A-list investors including Jay Z and Batali, and earned Friedman recognition from the James Beard Foundation as "outstanding restaurateur of the year" in 2016.
The Times investigation drew from over two dozen interviews with former employees of the Spotted Pig and other restaurants owned by Friedman and Bloomfield. Ten women alleged that they'd been subject to unwanted advances from Friedman ("groping them in public, demanding sex or making text requests for nude pictures or group sex"), and others said they were subjected to daily kisses and touches.
In response to questions from the Times, Friedman said, "Some incidents were not as described, but context and content are not today’s discussion. I apologize now publicly for my actions.” He also said that his behavior "can accurately be described at times as abrasive, rude and frankly wrong."
Bloomfield and Friedman own five restaurants in New York, including The Spotted Pig, The Breslin Bar & Dining Room, John Dory Oyster Bar, White Gold Butchers and Salvation Taco. Former staff members told the Times that when they went to Bloomfield, she said, "That’s who he is. Get used to it. Or go work for someone else."
In a statement to the Times, Bloomfield denied that she brushed these problems aside. "In the two matters involving uninvited approaches that were brought to my attention over the years, I immediately referred both to our outside labor counsel and they were addressed internally. I have spoken to Ken about professional boundaries and relied on him to uphold our policies. Nonetheless I feel we have let down our employees and for that I sincerely apologize.”
The piece also noted that several former employees alleged seeing "inappropriate sexual behavior" from Batali, who would frequently visit the restaurant.
The Spotted Pig has not yet responded to Food and Wine's request for comment.