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B&B Hospitality Group, Eataly to separate from Mario Batali Craig Barritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

B&B Hospitality Group, Eataly to separate from Mario Batali

Move follows reports of criminal investigation of chef’s misconduct

B&B Hospitality Group is in the process of buying out co-founder Mario Batali, who is under police investigation in New York following allegations of sexual assault.

The Italy-based restaurant-and-retail concept Eataly, likewise, said this week it has initiated a process to compel Batali to divest his minority interest in Eataly USA.

The move followed a “60 Minutes” report that included allegations that Batali drugged and sexually assault women in 2004 and 2005. Batali “vehemently denied” the sexual assault, the report said.

But in a statement earlier this week, New York-based B&B Hospitality said the accounts were “chilling and deeply disturbing,” and that it was the first they had learned of them.

The final terms of the buyout are expected to be set by July 1, the company said. Co-founders Joe and Lidia Bastianich, along with Los Angeles-based restaurateur Nancy Silverton, are expected to participate in the acquisition of Batali’s stake in the company.

“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,” the B&B Hospitality statement said.

Batali stepped down from operations of the group in December following allegations that he sexually harassed four women who worked for him. At the time, Batali apologized.

The “60 Minutes” report, however, revealed that New York police were investigating Batali for the charges of criminal sexual misconduct.

B&B Hospitality stands for Batali and Bastianich. The group is known for nearly a dozen high-profile New York restaurants, including Babbo Ristorante and Del Posto, as well as Carnevino, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria and B&B Ristorante in Las Vegas.

On the West Coast, B&B is a partner in several of Nancy Silverton’s restaurants, including Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza.

Batali is also an investor in the Eataly chain’s U.S. division.

Chris Giglio, a spokesman for Eataly, told The Chicago Tribune that the company had initiated a process to compel the divestiture of his “small, minority interest” in Eataly USA.

Batali was also a co-host of the television chat show “The Chew,” before he was fired in December. This week, ABC reportedly canceled the show after seven seasons, according to Deadline Hollywood.

The “60 Minutes” report included accounts of sexual harassment at the New York restaurant The Spotted Pig, co-owned by Ken Friedman, who has also been accused of rampant sexual misconduct.

Friedman’s partner, chef April Bloomfield, told “60 Minutes” that she is also in the final stages of severing her partnership with Friedman, including the recently opened restaurant The Hearth & Hound in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, two managers are leaving the San Francisco restaurant Tosca Café, owned by Friedman and Bloomfield, after a failed bid to buy it, the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week.

Chef Josh Even and business manager Dana Katzakian told the Chronicle they were leaving Tosca as of June 1.

When allegations emerged about Friedman last year, the two approached Bloomfield to buy the restaurant. But, after months of negotiation, Even said it was time to move on.

“We felt we [were] going to make real change by taking over ownership to save Tosca from the mess Ken created,” Even told the Chronicle. “It was just taking a long time. It became too much for us.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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