In March, I wrote about Harvey Weinstein’s sexually predatory behavior resulting in the downfall of the company he spent his life building. The Weinstein Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief in March 2018, and the case is still dominated by the ramifications of Harvey Weinstein’s actions. As women continue to find their voice and speak out against a culture of sexual harassment, a new celebrity has joined the ranks of the accused. And it is none other than Mike Isabella, a celebrity chef and runner-up of Top Chef All-Stars in 2011 on Bravo network.
Isabella first appeared on Season Six of Top Chef and is originally from Little Ferry, New Jersey. Anyone familiar with Top Chef will remember Mike as the brash, braggadocios loud mouth who competed in two different seasons of Top Chef. Isabella was riding high as a celebrity restaurateur with his Mike Isabella Concepts when a prior employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit. On the heels of reaching a settlement in the case, Isabella’s company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief in September 2018.
How Can Bankruptcy Relief Help Mike Isabella Concepts?
Isabella claims the lawsuit and resulting settlement created a media frenzy that resulted in plummeting sales at his restaurants and staff departures. However, investors in his business and others in the restaurant industry maintain Isabella spread himself too thin in the opening of multiple restaurants, including four in 2017 alone. Prior employees allege that the work environment was toxic for women employed by the company. While Isabella denies this allegation, he maintained wide use of NDAs – nondisclosure agreements – when hiring employees at this restaurants.
In addition to using Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reduce down his stable of restaurants, Isabella is utilizing the bankruptcy relief to stave off eviction from his on-going restaurant ventures, including Kapnos Taverna at the University of Maryland campus. Chapter 11 provides a mechanism to assume an ongoing executory contract like a premises lease and catch up any rental payments that may be in arrears at the time of filing. This mechanism would be particularly important to maintain his ongoing restaurant operations and is why Chapter 11 bankruptcy was a good choice to pare down his business and put it back on a firm footing.
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