It appears as though Celebrity Chef Mike Isabella's restaurants haven't been able to bounce back following the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the restaurateur in March.
Fast forward to last Thursday, Isabella’s restaurant group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to “The Washington Post.”
The restaurateur formerly had over a dozen restaurants in the D.C. area with a staff of 268. Two of his restaurants have closed since April.
The landlord of Graffiato, which was Isabella's first restaurant, filed an eviction lawsuit at the end of June seeking $28,000 for unpaid rent and other fees. The landlord of Kapnos Taverna is suing him for $60,000. $715,000 is also owed to the real estate developer Eskridge (E&A.)
The D.C. restaurant empire has failed to recover following the March lawsuit where Chloe Caras, one of Isabella's top managers, filed a sexual harassment case against Isabella and his partners. She claimed that her bosses touched her without permission, talked about her buttocks openly in the workplace, and called her names.
“Women generally do not make it into the higher management ranks of Mr. Isabella’s establishments and when Ms. Caras did, she became the target of extraordinary sex-based hostility and abuse,” said the lawsuit.
Isabella and his partners have denied the accusations.
“Simply put, the allegations of an unwelcoming or hostile work atmosphere are false,” said his company in a statement prepared by the Bascietto & Bregman law firm. “Harassment, discrimination, bullying, abuse, or unequal treatment of any kind whatsoever are not tolerated at MIC.”
Although the case was settled by May, the backlash has lingered, causing sales to plummet. Isabella blames the "bad press" for his company's economic woes.
“Bad press . . . definitely hurt us from a financial standpoint, across the board,” said Isabella to "The Washington Post." “In Washington, D.C., March, April and May are your three busiest months of the year. Unfortunately, I had some negative press toward me. I lost a lot of that business that carries me through the summer, in all my restaurants. With that being said, I went into a slow season, a slow summer."
Read Isabella's full interview at "The Washington Post."