When it comes to the #MeToo movement, there are a lot of industries that have experienced serious changes and blowback as a result of the scandals. The political world and the entertainment industry, for example, are two circuits that saw serious scandals erupt over major names.
What most people don’t realize is that the restaurant world, too, is finding itself in the middle of its own bunch of scandals. More strikingly, it’s happening at almost every level of the food industry itself. From local restauranteurs to famous celebrity chefs, leaders in the industry are now finding themselves under more scrutiny than ever before.
These famous names have already found themselves under serious fire for sexual assault, misogyny, and bad behavior. Make no mistake about it–they’re not going to be the last, either.
Hooters is a restaurant chain that has long been under fire for its objectifying practice of having scantily-clad waitresses as a main part of their marketing plan. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with flaunting your body as a way to earn cash and many new restaurants currently have equally tight-fitting outfits for waitstaff.
In 2004, right before #MeToo became mainstream, it was revealed that many franchises secretly videotaped hopeful Hooters girls undressing. A lawsuit ensued, bringing to light the sexual assault and intrusion many waitresses experienced.
Multiple women also came forth, discussing the psychological tolls their jobs carried. These days, Hooters is a struggling chain. It might only take one or two more #MeToo-style accusations to land the chain in hot water.
Restauranteur John Besh was known for being one of Louisiana’s top restaurant mavericks, with names like Luke as some of his top earners. For years, he successfully ran the restaurants with waitresses feeling urged to stay silent about his behavior.
As #MeToo took off, over 20 different waitresses stepped forth to talk about the sexual assault, attempted rape, and foul sexual commentaries they endured from Besh while working under his empire. Besh eventually was removed as CEO from his restaurants after the Times-Picayune picked up on the story.
Today, the restaurants are now run by Shannon White–one of his former victims. Though the restaurants are now under female leadership, the chain still struggles with a tarnished reputation as a result of Besh’s actions.
Mario Batali might just be one of the biggest names to get ensared with the #MeToo movement. The celebrity chef found himself under serious media scrutiny after reports emerged about the chef groping fans and making sexually suggestive remarks on set.
Batali’s fame quickly plummeted and his family life quickly turned sour. In early 2019, Batali announced he would exit the restaurant industry for good. Along with an exit from his industry, Batali now faces criminal charges for sexual assault.