After months of work to disentangle the business connections of chef April Bloomfield and business partner Ken Friedman, the focus of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, comes a resolution: Bloomfield will own and fully control the restaurant group’s West Coast properties, SF’s Tosca Cafe and LA’s Hearth & Hound. Bloomfield will no longer be affiliated with the Spotted Pig, the seminal NYC hotspot she opened with Friedman in 2004.
The news of the official split comes just weeks after Tosca Cafe’s executive chef Josh Even and business manager Dana Katzakian announced their departure from the restaurant, simultaneously revealing that a previous plan to buy the restaurant themselves had fallen through.
Now it’s clear why, as Bloomfield herself will step in to run her two remaining restaurants. In a statement to Eater National, which broke the news, Bloomfield said:
“Today, I am announcing the end of my partnership with Ken Friedman. There is much hard work ahead, and it begins with taking full leadership of the Hearth & Hound in Los Angeles and Tosca Cafe in San Francisco. My complete focus now will be on the welfare and opportunity for my staff and building a company I can be proud of. This has been a painful time for many people, my past and present staff especially, and I will have more to say at some point in the near future. For now, I am looking forward to forging ahead.”
When Bloomfield and Friedman took over Tosca from owner Jeannette Etheredge, it was a knight-in-shining-armor type of moment, saving the restaurant from eviction and ensuring the preservation of the iconic dive bar that was founded in 1919. The duo opened up the kitchen in 2013 after five decades of closure, and brought it back to a hip North Beach dining destination complete with craft cocktails, and a menu of updated dishes from chef Josh Even.
Allegations against Friedman surfaced after the #MeToo movement took off, and followed other disturbing accusations of misconduct and assault against celebrity chef and Spotted Pig investor Mario Batali. Batali was a frequent visitor to the exclusive third floor party room of the restaurant, where many of the alleged incidents occurred.
Bloomfield herself has faced criticism since the allegations against Friedman surfaced, with many saying she did not do enough to protect her female employees. In an initial story from The New York Times, several women went on the record to say that they were ignored or dismissed by Bloomfield when Friedman’s misconduct was brought to the chef’s attention.
When the accusations became public in December of 2017, Bloomfield apologized via a statement to the Times:
“In the two matters involving uninvited approaches that were brought to my attention over the years, I immediately referred both to our outside labor counsel and they were addressed internally. I have spoken to Ken about professional boundaries and relied on him to uphold our policies. Nonetheless I feel we have let down our employees and for that I sincerely apologize.”
Whether not diners will be deterred by the complications of the restaurant’s ownership, the news could be a relief for fans of Tosca, whose fate seemed unclear. With a star chef like Bloomfield in the kitchen more often, it will be interesting to see what, if any, changes are made to the restaurant. Stay tuned for more.