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3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close amid sexual assault allegations

May 26, 2018 - 4:26 pm
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(LAS VEGAS) -- Mario Batali's three restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip will shut down amid investigations into sexual assault allegations against the celebrity chef, his company announced Friday.

B&B Ristorante, Otto Enotea e Pizzeria and Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, all located on a luxury complex that includes swanky casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, will permanently close July 27. Batali & Bastianich (B&B) Hospitality Group, which Batali helped found, announced the closures in a letter to employees Friday morning.

"These restaurants have continued to succeed, and they are a tribute to every one of you who works in them and brings great dining experiences to our guests," B&B Hospitality Group partner Joe Bastianich said in the letter, obtained by ABC affiliate KTNV. "Unfortunately, our partner in these restaurants, Las Vegas Sands Corp., has decided to end our relationship."

Bastianich said he will visit the three restaurants to speak with employees.

"You are all dedicated professionals who deliver night in and night out for our guests, you are part of our family, and we will all feel your loss," he said in the letter. "It is because of the amazing dining experiences you bring our guests that I am committed to continuing our presence in Las Vegas. I am beginning to explore options, but it will take some time to execute them. Unfortunately, I won't be able to do that in the next 60 days."

Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns two casino resorts, The Venetian and The Palazzo, on the complex, but does not run the restaurants, said "there are no other plans for the space."

"We would like to thank the team members of B&B Restaurant Group for their dedication and many contributions to The Venetian and The Palazzo. We appreciate the hard work and energy of director of operations Zach Allen, Chef/Culinary Director Nicole Brisson and the rest of this team. At this time, there are no other plans for the space," the casino and resort company said in a statement obtained by KTNV.

Batali is under criminal investigation by the New York City Police Department for two separate instances of sexual assault allegations, one of which was reported on "60 Minutes" last weekend.

The unidentified woman featured in a "60 Minutes" segment last Sunday claims the 57-year-old chef and former TV star drugged and assaulted her after drinking wine together at a popular Manhattan restaurant in 2005.

B&B Hospitality Group told "60 Minutes" that it finds the allegations "deeply disturbing" and that "our partnership with Mr. Batali is ending. We have been actively negotiating with Mr. Batali to buy his interests in the restaurants."

The other allegation was brought to the New York City Police Department late last year, police sources told ABC News. A woman alleges she lost consciousness at a New York City restaurant in 2004 and found Batali on top of her when she awoke.

Batali responded to the allegations in a statement to ABC News on May 21: "I vehemently deny any allegations of sexual assault. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions. I am not attempting a professional comeback. My only focus is finding a personal path forward where I can continue in my charitable endeavors - helping the underprivileged and those in need."

Last December, four women told the website Eater that Batali had touched them inappropriately.

Batali was subsequently asked to leave ABC's "The Chew," which he had co-hosted since 2011, and he offered to step away from the day-to-day operations of B&B Hospitality Group.

In response to the allegations in the Eater article, Batali issued a statement appearing to acknowledge that he had engaged in "wrong" behavior and apologizing to those whom he has "mistreated and hurt"

"I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt," he said in the statement released late last year. "Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong, and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family."

ABC News' Aaron Katersky, Josh Margolin and Michael Rothman contributed to this report.

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