Mario Batali falls foul of NY licensing laws

28th March, 2014 by Lauren Eads

US celebrity chef, Mario Batali, has been forced to temporarily close his New York wine shop and pay fines of half a million dollars after breaking New York State liquor laws.

607px-Mario_Batali_3rd_annual_Food_Summit_May_24,_2012Batali’s wine shop at Eataly, the chef’s Italian wine market in New York’s trendy Chelsea district, has been hit with a six-month sales ban and fines of $500,000 as part of a settlement reached on Tuesday with the New York State Liquor Authority, according to a report by CNBC.

Authorities took issue with the fact that Batali and his business partners, the mother and son team Lidia and Joe Bastianich, were both wine producers and retailers with Joe in charge of a winery in the Friuli region of northeast Italy which imports wine to the shop on Fifth Avenue and 23rd St.

This, state authorities said, was a violation of anti-trust laws which ban liquor stores from also owning distilleries or distribution companies.

Batali allegedly failed to disclose the shops connection to the winery operation, according to The New York Post, an act which could have seen the shop closed permanently had a settlement not been reached.

The wine shop, which stocks more than 1,000 wines exclusively from Italian producers, has not said when the closure will start.

New York’s Eataly, an Italian market hall complex boasting seven sit down restaurants, a wine shop, private dining rooms and culinary school, opened in 2012 covering 50,000 square feet.

5 Responses to “Mario Batali falls foul of NY licensing laws”

  1. The Land of the Free! Put the stupid law to one side and ask what has he done wrong ethically or morally? The answer is nothing, yet he has been fined half a million and banned from earning his living for six months. That’s ridiculous.

  2. Billy Forrester says:

    I’m surprised they didn’t deport him while they were at it … How absurd and totally bonkers !! Reading this in Ireland, home of some of the highest wine taxes on the planet 🙁

  3. Mr. Clark says:

    The law seems a little outdated, perhaps..? I’d be curious to know when it got on the books. I’m sure it hurts the staff more than it hurts Batali and the Bastianich’s, who I’m sure are doing fine.

  4. Joseph Fernandes says:

    Is there a retailer in NYC that does not have a relationship or even a share or a shareholder with one in a winery? Many purchasers are glad to know the intimate understanding some retailers have with wineries. A distillery, well maybe they also make a grappa so this category creates the breach! What sort of a fatuous, archaic law is this and what is its objective?

  5. Tim Haslam says:

    What an absurd law & what a ridiculous interpretation. Here is someone trying to offer diversity & quality an this is how he is treated. I would be delighted to be able to effectively buy direct from the producer, but in my home city. I guess the idea of ‘jobsworth’ exists in NYC too!

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