In the past year or so, New York City’s restaurant scene has proven itself to be a hot spot for sexual predators. From the news that Harvey Weinstein used Cipriani restaurants as a “hunting ground” for women to assault, to the sexual harassment allegations facing famed chefs like Mario Batali and The Spotted Pig’s owner Ken Friedman, sexual harassment has been unsurprisingly pervasive not just in New York’s restaurant industry, but across the country.
Added to New York City’s growing list of predatory restauranteurs is the Four Seasons’ co-owner Julian Niccolini, who the New York Times reports was forced to resign on Monday after failing to “change his behavior.” In 1991 Niccolini was sued for sexual harassment by a waitress who said he called her a “slut” and a “lesbian” and rubbed himself against her at work. The suit was eventually settled, but Niccolini was also sued in 2014 by a former assistant manager for discrimination after she came back from maternity leave (she could barely pump breast milk on the job and was ultimately replaced by a man) and he also pled guilty in 2016 to misdemeanor assault for groping a woman.
In a statement given to the NYT, the Four Seasons wrote that Mr. Niccolini was supposed to fulfill an agreement he made in 2016 to “seek help and change his behavior during the Four Seasons’ two-year hiatus while the new restaurant was under construction.” “In the short period of time since the restaurant had reopened, it had become clear that he had not honored that commitment,” they wrote, which translates roughly to “Yeah, it was seriously about time we let the notorious sexual harasser go.”