JBF's 2016 Outstanding Restaurateur Ken Friedman is Accused of Sexual Harassment

  • NYC's The Spotted Pig's Restaurateur Ken Friedman is accused of sexual harassment by at least 10 staff members. 

  • In response, Friedman apologized and will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from managing his restaurants. 

Ken Friedman | Geri Koeppel/Hoodline

Ken Friedman | Geri Koeppel/Hoodline

Oh, how the mighty have fallen! With a heavy heart, we are reporting that multiple sexual harassment accusations have been made against another powerful restaurateur. 

As reported by the "New York Times," Ken Friedman, the operator behind the award winning NYC restaurant The Spotted Pig and winner of the 2016 James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur award, has been accused of sexually harassment from at least 10 members of his staff. 

Apparently, the sexual abuse at his West Village restaurant has been going on for years. 

Multiple victims have come forward, including The Spotted Pig's longtime servers Natalie Saibel and Trish Nelson and the bar manager, Amy Dee Richardson. 

Saibel claims that in 2015 Friedman "ran his hands over her buttocks and then her groin in a room crowded with customers, joking that he was searching her pockets for a forbidden cellphone."

Then in 2007, Nelson recalled when "he grabbed her head and pulled it toward his crotch in front of Amy Poehler in 2007 as Ms. Nelson knelt to collect glasses from a low shelf."

After that incident, later in 2012, Friedman forcibly kissed Nelson after inviting her to his car to smoke Marijuana. 

“I was scared,” said Nelson after his behavior in the car. “I couldn’t believe it. I had worked for him for six years.”

She then gave notice a few days later, but never reported the incident because the staff lived in a state of fear. 

 “I was terrified to tell anyone why,” said Nelson. “Ken bragged about blacklisting people all the time. And we saw it happen.”

The abuse dates back all the way to 2004 when The Spotted Pig opened. When another victim, Amy Richardson can't forget the time the restaurateur "bit her on the waist as he bent down to duck under the bar."

Groping at the restaurant wasn't Friedman's only M.O. either. 

"Ten women said that Mr. Friedman, 56, had subjected them to unwanted sexual advances: groping them in public, demanding sex or making text requests for nude pictures or group sex. Many others also said that working for him required tolerating daily kisses and touches, pulling all-night shifts at private parties that included public sex and nudity, and enduring catcalls and gropes from guests who are Mr. Friedman’s friends," writes the "New York Times." 

Friedman has responded to the accusations with an apology and an explanation.

“My personal and professional life was intertwined with our restaurants and our staff. I own my
behavior which can accurately be described at times as abrasive, rude and frankly wrong," said Friedman in a statement. “Some incidents were not as described, but context and content are not today’s discussion. I apologize now publicly for my actions.”

Friedman will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from managing his restaurants. 

The Spotted Pig and it's chef April Bloomfield has earned one star from the coveted Michelin Guide for seven consecutive years.

Friedman and Bloomfield also own other renowned restaurants, including the Breslin Bar & Dining Room, the John Dory Oyster Bar, Salvation Taco and White Gold Butchers, Tosca Cafe, and the newly opened the Hearth & Hound.

Investors of The Spotted Pig include celebrities like Jay-Z and Michael Stipe.

Another powerhouse in the industry who has his own sexual harassment scandal, Mario Batali is also an investor and a frequent visitor of the restaurant.

Read the full breaking news story by "New York Times" here.