The Washington Nationals cut ties with Mike Isabella after the chef and his partners were accused of sexually and verbally harassing a former employee. A spokesperson for the D.C-based baseball team told The Washington Post, “Due to the allegations that came to light this week, we have decided to end our partnership with Mike Isabella.”
The Top Chef alum formerly ran three outposts in Nationals Park, including Catchfly, G Sandwich, and Kapnos at the Park. The team is reportedly exploring its options for other eateries to replace the vacant spots.
Isabella, his restaurant empire Mike Isabella Concepts, and four business partners — Taha Ismail, Yohan Allender, George Pagonis, and Nicholis Pagonis — were all named in a lawsuit filed by Chloe Caras, the former regional general manager of Mike Isabella Concepts’ Arlington-area restaurants (Kapnos Taverna, Yona, and Pepita) and the former director of operations at the 41,000-square-foot Isabella Eatery at Tysons Galleria in McLean, Virginia.
In the suit, Caras alleged that the defendants called her “bitch” and “whore,” made remarks about the size of her butt, and touched her without consent. The former manager is seeking unspecified damages, but each person named in the suit has denied all allegations.
The defendants’ attorney, Bascietto & Bregman, sent The Daily Meal a prepared statement on behalf of Mike Isabella Concepts saying the allegations of an “unwelcoming or hostile work atmosphere at MIC are false,” adding that “harassment, discrimination, bullying, and abuse or unequal treatment of any kid whatsoever are not tolerated,” at MIC.
"As with any case of former business partners and employees, there is much more to this story. Ms. Caras engaged in the very same banter, language, and horseplay that she now claims created a hostile working atmosphere,” the law office said. “MIC has the same, if not many more, of these text messages, incidents, and write-ups of serious misconduct at work, to show that Ms. Caras’ portrayal as a victim is, again, untrue. More importantly, she is using much of the communication that occurred off-work to support her own case, all the while the many employees and women-leaders at MIC are ready to prove that none of this occurred at the restaurants, and further that Mr. Isabella’s restaurants are enjoyable places to work and dine for everyone.”
Many high-end chefs and food personalities are facing similar accusations and lawsuits, including New Orleans’ John Besh, Plaza Hotel’s Todd English, Top Chef alum Johnny Iuzzini, and The Chew’s Mario Batali. It seems like it was just yesterday when restaurants were being sued for sillier reasons.