You might have thought that the saga of New York’s The Spotted Pig, which closed in the wake of a #MeToo scandal involving restauranteur Ken Friedman, was at an end. But a new report from Vanity Fair suggests otherwise — and unlike many recent news stories about the troubled restaurant, this one doesn’t abound with a sense of bleakness.
Vanity Fair‘s Lisa Abend reports that a group of women who were recipients of the settlement that Friedman agreed to pay are working to secure a lease on the space. Dubbed “Operation Empowered Sow” by Trish Nelson, who’s leading the effort, the plan is to build something positive in the wake of the scandals and awful behavior that led the restaurant to close.
Nelson previously worked at The Spotted Pig, as well as other restaurants owned by Friedman. According to Abend’s report, Nelson is working with two other former employees to assemble the resources needed to make a bid on the restaurant’s lease. As Abend phrases it, the group may not have a deep-pocketed restaurant group behind them, but they do have a fantastic narrative if they can make this work.
It’s an admittedly ambitious project for the women, who have a lot of working experience in the industry, but little to no cash. And although at the moment they also don’t have any investors or outside partners, they do have the powerful possibility to put a feel-good Hollywood ending on one of the restaurant industry’s most sordid incidents.
The idea of using the Spotted Pig as a source of rebuilding seems not unlike the Gabrielle Hamilton-led plan that didn’t come to fruition in 2018, at least thematically speaking. But the optics of onetime employees of the restaurant who were treated badly by Friedman using their settlement to reopen the place is a very compelling narrative.
In the Vanity Fair article, Nelson says that “the idea is that we could turn it into a Stonewall Inn for women and working class people in the industry.” It’s a laudable goal, and hopefully one that they will succeed in.
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