One of the owners of several high-profile New York restaurants is taking a leave of absence after being accused of sexual misconduct by several women who worked for him.
The New York Times reported the allegations against Ken Friedman Tuesday. According to the report, several women who worked for Friedman at the Spotted Pig restaurant said he regularly subjected them to unwanted sexual advances and groping.
The Spotted Pig regularly attracted celebrity guests since it opened in 2004 with its VIP floor. Friedman won the James Beard Foundation’s outstanding restaurateur of the year award in 2016.
Friedman, who co-owns the Spotted Pig and four other New York restaurants with chef April Bloomfield, apologized for his actions in a statement that the Times uploaded to its website.
An email to Friedman’s representatives was not immediately answered.
Natalie Saibel, a longtime server at the Spotted Pig, told the Times that in 2015 Friedman ran his hands over her buttocks and groin while saying he was searching for a forbidden cellphone.
Another longtime waitress, Trish Nelson, told the Times Friedman grabbed her head and pulled it toward his crotch as she knelt to collect glasses from a low shelf.
According to the report, the third floor of the restaurant, a private party area where servers were often groped and harassed during all-night events, was known among employees as the “rape room.”
In addition to the New York restaurants, Friedman’s company owns Tosca Cafe in San Francisco and recently opened the Hearth & Hound in Los Angeles.