Since Eataly arrived on American shores in 2010, it has been synonymous with Mario Batali. As the initial New York location thrived and the Italian marketplace spread across the country, the Italian-American chef was so omnipresent in promoting the marketplace, you’d be forgiven for thinking Eataly was primarily his business. But it wasn’t his company. Really, he was mostly just the face of the U.S. outposts and not a major player in the international company as a whole.
That became readily apparent in 2017, when accusations of sexual misconduct against Batali were revealed and the company quickly distanced itself from its one-time mascot. Seemingly overnight, Eataly yanked all products and cookbooks bearing his likeness from its stores. And when we met with Eataly USA’s CEO Oscar Farinetti last December ahead of the company’s Las Vegas’s opening he told Robb Report, “Mario hasn’t been involved in Eataly day-to-day in the past seven years probably. Since last December last year, he stopped doing anything with us. We are in the process of divestment.”
That process, 20 months after Eataly had scrubbed Batali from the premises, has finally gone through. Batali’s minority stake in Eataly has been bought out and he can no longer profit from the company, the AP has reported.
It continues a profound fall from grace for the chef who helped expand the idea of Italian food in America beyond red sauce joints and also put the Food Network on the map with his show Molto Mario. The Eater NY investigation into his misconduct in 2017, followed by a damning 60 Minutes report months later, pushed him out of the public eye and, eventually, out of his ownership stakes in his companies.
In addition to Eataly, earlier this year Batali severed his 20-year relationship with the restaurant company that bore his name—B&B Hospitality. His longtime business partner Joe Bastianich, his sister Tanya Bastianich Manuali (now head of the hospitality group) and their mother Lydia, have taken away all of the restaurants—including Babbo in New York and Nancy Silverton’s Mozza in Los Angeles. “[Batali] will no longer profit from the restaurants in any way, shape or form,” Manuali, told the New York Times after the announcement.
This is not the end of the story for Batali—he still owns a stake in fellow disgraced restaurateur Ken Friedman’s Spotted Pig in New York. And next week he is expected in court in Boston on indecent assault and battery charges, for which he has pleaded not guilty.