Wednesday, 16 Jan 2019

Mike Isabella's company closes seven months after the sexual harassment lawsuit

Mike Isabella in 2015 on the site of the now closed Isabella Eatery restaurant, located in Tysons Galleria. (Dixie D. Vereen for the Washington Post)

Exactly a year and a day after former Top Chef star and restaurateur Mike Isabella opened a 41,000 square foot multi-restaurant concept in the Tysons Galleria, he announced he was closing his entire business – one of the largest restaurants empires in DC After filing the balance sheet of chapter 11 in September, the company Isabella filed Wednesday the balance sheet of chapter 7, in order to end its activities and liquidate its assets to pay their debts.

Isabella's previous declaration of bankruptcy was intended to help her restructure her company, he told The Post in an interview in September. Washingtonian reports that none of the company's eight remaining restaurants, which once had 12 restaurants, not counting its airport and baseball stadium, has the money available to pay the December rent to a homeowner. The restaurants will remain in business until December 27th, a request from Isabella to take advantage of holiday crowds that would help pay the salaries of her staff. Two restaurants, Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda, Maryland, and Shark, at the district wharf, were not part of the bankruptcy files, and it is unclear how they will be affected.

Of course, a lot has happened in a year and a day since Isabella Eatery's opening. In March, The Post announced that Chloe Caras, a director of Eatery, had filed a lawsuit alleging "extraordinary" sexual harassment by Isabella and her business partners. The trial was settled amicably, under undisclosed conditions. Post's second article revealed more and more cases of harassment at Isabella's restaurants, as well as the practice of using non-disclosure agreements, which workers said prevented them from talking about their own harassment. . In the weeks that followed, Isabella lost her business partnerships and customers and was canceled. Then his restaurants began to close: first Shark in Fairfax, then Graffiato in Richmond, then Graffiato in the district and then the restaurant. Two weeks later, Isabella filed for Chapter 11, accusing her "bad press" for her business problems.

That's one sentence that he continues to use: "Under the current circumstances, I'm sad to find that I no longer believe that a restaurant associated with my name can recover from the Negative press that has enveloped me for almost the full year of 2018, "Isabella said in the latest bankruptcy case.

In July, Mike Isabella was forced to close Graffiato in Chinatown. (Matt McClain / The Washington Post)

But investors say that Isabella and her business have been overexploited before the bad press. In September, the Post reported that some of Isabella's restaurants had financial problems for months before Caras filed her complaint. The University of Maryland hotel in College Park said Kapnos Taverna, which had been open for one year, stopped paying rent in January. On May 15, the landlord filed a lawsuit for $ 63,566.92 in arrears, plus interest and fees. Eskridge (E & A), a company owned primarily by the executives of real estate developer Edens, alleged that Isabella had not paid the rent of the Brasserie Shark to Fairfax since December 30, 2015, four months after the beginning of the lease. On May 22, Eskridge filed a lawsuit against Mike Isabella Concepts for unpaid rent of more than $ 715,000, in addition to other fees. In the September interview. Isabella said that he had paid rent in both restaurants.

The Kapnos, Kapnos Taverna, G, Arroz, Pepita and Yona d'Isabella restaurants remain open, as are the Kapnos Kouzina and Requin mentioned above. Washingtonian reports that business partners Nick and George Pagonis, who were named in the sexual harassment lawsuit, are negotiating with Isabella through their lawyer, who declined to provide additional details. Previous reports, refuted by Isabella, indicated that the brothers hoped to take over society.

Isabella has joined a fraternity of disgraced leaders. Mario Batali and John Besh have been accused of having harassed women in their restaurants and Batali is under criminal investigation. But these two leaders have withdrawn from their business – although Batali has not yet fulfilled its promise of divestment – and apologize for their behavior. Originally, Isabella did not do it either: he and his lawyers launched beards with the Caras team, and he sometimes bit the press and his alleged enemies by publishing hostile articles on social media . After the initial bankruptcy filing, he softened his tone, apologizing for Fox5, six months after filing the Caras complaint.

In September, La Poste asked him if he wanted to have acted differently, Isabella told herself. "I regret a million things every day," he said.

This story will be updated.

More food:

From celebrity "Top Chef" to bankruptcy: the rise and fall of Mike Isabella

Mike Isabella's restaurants have used confidentiality agreements to silence sexual harassment accounts, says trial

"There is no restaurant ready for that": the Conservators of the D.C. are grappling with political protests


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