Mario and Joe have been partners a long time, and many think that this SLA setback is just a minor hiccup in their empire.
Even Joe Bastianich’s scowl may not be able to get his hospitality group out of this predicament. Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group, owned by chefs and TV personalities Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali, is going through some legal complications with the New York State Liquor Authority, which may result in the restaurant group, including Del Posto, Eataly, Babbo, and Felidia, running dry for up to six months.
The State Liquor Authority’s latest meeting agenda said that each of the restaurants is getting a summons referral for “Interlocking Interest” and “False Material Statement.” While we could not find exact details on what these legal terms mean in relation to B and B Hospitality, the wine blog Dr. Vino has speculated that it may indicate the SLA trying to crack down on Bastianich selling his own imported wine in his restaurants. Industry insiders told Dr. Vino that this may indicate a crackdown on “cross holdings,” or selling your own wine in your own restaurant.
The SLA’s recommended fine for this “infraction” is $500,000, loss of liquor license for six months, and removal of Lidia Bastianich as the principal of Eataly. There is no indication why Lidia Bastianich’s removal is being considered.
Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group did not respond in time for comment. The Daily Meal will be updating this story as more information becomes available.
Update: Batali and Bastianich have agreed to pay the $500K fine and close Eataly's wine shop for six months.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi