Ken Friedman, owner of the Spotted Pig restaurant in Manhattan, has agreed to pay $240,000 as well as a percentage of the restaurant’s profits to employees who say they were groped and harassed by Friedman and famous friends like Mario Batali then fired when they complained about the harassment.
In the early 2000s, the Spotted Pig, a West Village restaurant that serves $30 hamburgers and $18 sides of roasted beets, was a New York culinary hot spot that boasted a nightclub-like atmosphere and a third-floor party room where Friedman hosted friends like accused sexual harassers Charlie Rose and Mario Batali, once an investor in the restaurant. Servers at the restaurant allege that guests, along with Friedman, frequently groped their buttocks and breasts as they attempted to work while avoiding assault. One former employee even alleged that she once walked in on Batali performing oral sex on a woman in the break room.
The former employees will split a $240,000 settlement paid by Friedman over the next two years along with 20 percent of his profits from the restaurant over the next 10 years including any payouts from a sale. The settlement also mandates that Friedman have no role in the restaurant’s management and operations.
In a statement, Friedman predictably said he is sorry while avoiding any culpability:
“While I am aware that nothing will completely repair the damage I’ve caused, and although I disagree with several of the allegations, I hope this agreement will bring some comfort to those former employees impacted by my behavior.”
Unlike the recently proposed Harvey Weinstein settlement, where more than 30 accusers would split $25 million from the Weinstein Company after paying for Weinstein’s attorneys out of their own settlement, Friedman must pay his accusers out of pocket.
“It is great to get compensation for what we all endured,” said Natalie Saibel, who worked at the Spotted Pig from 2008 to 2015. “But more than the money, it’s satisfying to see someone be held personally and financially responsible, and we hope other women will see that it’s possible.”
Meanwhile, Mario Batali is still facing civil and criminal assault charges in Massachusetts, where a woman says he groped her in 2017 while taking a photograph in a Boston bar.