Johnny Sánchez Baltimore — the upscale taqueria co-owned by John Besh, the celebrity chef and restaurateur who stepped down from his restaurant group on Monday amid sexual harassment allegations — closed at Horseshoe Casino last month, before allegations came to light, the casino said in a statement, via a spokesman, to The Baltimore Sun.
The casino said it did not believe there were any allegations of harassment involving the Johnny Sánchez property.
"Horseshoe Casino Baltimore's licensing agreement to operate Johnny Sánchez expired in early September, before these allegations came to light. The casino opted not to renew the contract in order to pursue a new and exciting concept that will be announced in the very near future. To the best of our knowledge, none of the harassment allegations involve the Horseshoe-managed Johnny Sánchez restaurant," the statement reads.
On Monday, Besh — a familiar face on the food-TV circuit, and a chef whose properties have won James Beard awards as a part of the Besh Restaurant Group — stepped down from his company after NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune published an eight-month investigation in which 25 current and former employees said they were victims of sexual harassment at Besh's restaurants.
In a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a former employee said Besh "continued to attempt to coerce (her) to submit to his sexual overtures" for months while she worked at his restaurant, according to the NOLA.com report. Besh said it was "a consensual relationship with one member of my team" in a statement to the New Orleans-based publication.
In 2014, with another celebrity chef, Aaron Sánchez, Besh opened Johnny Sánchez Baltimore, which sold tacos, tostadas and other Mexican-inspired dishes. The space currently houses JB's Cafe, though it will be replaced with another restaurant to be named later, according to the spokesman.
A statement to NOLA.com from Besh partially reads: "Two years ago, I deeply hurt those I love by thoughtlessly engaging in a consensual relationship with one member of my team. Since then I have been seeking to rebuild my marriage and come to terms with my reckless actions given the profound love I have for my wife, my boys and my Catholic faith. … I alone am entirely responsible for my moral failings. This is not the way the head of a company like ours should have acted, let alone a husband and father."
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