Mario Batali is gone from his restaurant empire but not forgotten — at least for now.
Word has it that the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, jointly owned by Batali and Joe Bastianich (son of TV chef Lidia Bastianich), plans to undergo a name change. Judging from the timing — it was only a month ago that charges of sexual harassment were leveled at the portly celebrity chef — speculation is running high that the new name will not include Batali’s monicker.
A lengthy letter to the company’s staff is signed by Joe and Lidia Bastianich (the latter will be assuming a more prominent role in the company, as well as Nancy Silverton, who currently oversees the group’s Los Angeles eateries. Batali’s signature is nowhere to be found. The text of the letter follows:
We wanted to reach out to you because we know this is a challenging time for all of us. While some of what has been said in the press may have some truths, the reports certainly do not represent the colleagues we work with daily or our overall workplaces. The things each of you do every day to deliver memorable dining experiences is nothing short of extraordinary, and these past two weeks have not been easy. So many of you represent the best of who we are, and we will work hard to make sure that your work environment reflects your contributions to us.
Unfortunately, the actions of just a few have raised questions about the kind of work environment we have and to which we all aspire. We are truly sorry that the company has not always lived up to what it should be, and we are taking immediate actions to ensure that you have the workplace you deserve.
As we have reiterated these past few weeks, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Everyone deserves equal opportunities to succeed. Here’s some of what we’re doing to ensure that our company lives up to these core values.
First, Mario is no longer involved in any of our restaurants’ operations, and that includes not coming into any of our properties.
Second, Nancy and Lidia will now take on leadership roles in the company. Apart from steering our culinary direction, they are intent on making sure that no one experiences sexual or any form of harassment and that, if they do, our policies will be strictly and swiftly enforced and offenders will be held accountable. They will also help ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity for promotion within the company —and that ours is a company where you want that opportunity.
Third, we will be creating a new company whose structure and name will better reflect that our restaurants’ success is built on the contributions of many, not just one or two. This will include bringing on additional senior management experienced in ensuring everyone has a respectful workplace.
Fourth, we are enhancing our Human Resources function, and are in the process of hiring a dedicated Employee Relations director. This person’s initial responsibility will be to make sure that our workplace quality is where it should be—that we have the appropriate human resources policies and procedures in place, that those policies are understood and followed by everyone, that complaints are properly and immediately addressed, and that our hiring and promotion practices reflect the company that we are and want to be.
Fifth, we are bringing in an outside firm to meet with employees, to examine the compliance of our executives, managers, chefs, and staff with our policies, and to report back with appropriate recommendations to help us provide each and every one of our employees a workplace free of any form of harassment.
Sixth, we have attached for your review our revised anti-harassment policy. There are some significant changes to the policy, which we think are helpful. Most importantly, the outside harassment reporting hotline is included. The outside hotline is there to be used if there is a complaint against a director, officer, owner, or high-profile guest. Human Resources and the other avenues for reporting are outlined as well—those methods are to be used for any other types of complaints. In addition, we have added a new, internal BBHG employee-relations email hotline for all employees to use for reporting any employee complaint: [email protected].
This is a season that should be filled with joy, happiness, and time with family and friends. You deserve that, and we are truly grateful for your work and continued contributions to our company and our guests. We are always here for you, and you should feel free to reach out to us directly if you would like to discuss any concern.
Thank you very much for everything you do.
Joe Lidia Nancy