Mario Batali Accusations Have Little Impact on Flagship Eataly Store

Getty Images
Eataly; Mario Batali (inset)

Batali, part owner of the Italian marketplace chain, has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by six women.

Though Mario Batali's Eataly was no longer bearing his products on Tuesday, the shoppers at the flagship store did not appear to be bothered, or deterred, by the change in offering.

On Monday, Eater released an exposé detailing accusations of sexual harassment against the celebrity chef. Four women accused Batali of inappropriate touching, and the story also revealed that he has been known to incorporate sexual innuendos into conversations in the workplace. Actress and comedian Siobhan Thompson came forward on Tuesday claiming Batali had previously touched her breasts without her consent, followed by a sixth woman, Holly Gunderson, an employee of Batali's Los Angeles eatery Osteria Mozza, claiming he assaulted her in 2010. 

Batali announced in a statement to Eater that he would step down from the daily operations of his many businesses for an undisclosed amount of time. “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted," Batali said in a statement. He also did not deny Gunderson's claim.

In addition to serving as a co-host on ABC’s morning cooking show The Chew, Batali operates over 20 restaurants. He is a minority stakeholder in the Italian marketplace Eataly and recently just opened a 60,000-square foot location in Los Angeles.

Eataly is described as a grocery store with tasting rooms. A variety of Italian delicacies are sold at the popular market, including cheeses, meats, bread and pastries. There are currently five Eataly locations in the U.S., including L.A., Boston, Chicago and two in New York City. On Tuesday, the chain announced that it was pulling all products of Batali's likeness from its shelves.

Just one day after the publication of the allegations, an Eataly location in New York's Flatiron District remained as active as any other day. Locals and tourists alike crowded certain sections of the market, most notably the candy aisle near the entrance. None of the customers who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter seemed bothered by — and some were even unaware of — the allegations against Batali. (When visiting the new L.A. location at the Westfield Century City mall one day prior, the majority of shoppers had the same reaction. In fact, most of those interviewed did not know the chef owned Eataly at all.)

The two-story market still bustled with customers on Monday morning in the wake of the story, as people passed under large displays featuring Batali's face for a variety of products, including pepper grinders, cookbooks and tomato sauce. )

"That’s awful. I wasn’t aware of that,” said one shopper that asked to remain anonymous after hearing about the allegations for the first time. After learning that the celebrity chef had stepped down from his involvement in the company, the New Yorker stated that she will probably continue to be a loyal customer to the store.

Many cookbooks are showcased around the market, though not one of Batali’s 11 books was on display Tuesday afternoon. With the absence of Batali’s products, Eataly appeared to be distancing itself from the chef who was once a prominent face at Eataly markets and on its website. His products, which include sauces, pastas, vinegars and olive oils, were once a staple in the marketplace.

A common consensus among the shoppers who were asked about the scandal was that while they do not condone Batali’s actions, the accusations were not going to stop them from shopping at Eataly. “I heard yesterday,” one shopper admitted. As a regular visitor of Eataly, the woman stated, “It doesn’t impact me.”

Two tourists said that they had heard the news, though they didn’t have second thoughts before visiting the market. “We’ve been wanting to come here for a while,” said one of the first-time visitors while sipping on a coffee bought at the market’s cafe. “The news didn’t make us not want to come.”