The Boston chef Barbara Lynch, whom more than 20 employees accused of multiple forms of workplace abuse in a New York Times report last year, announced Friday that most of her restaurants had closed at the end of 2023.
Those include her fine-dining restaurant Menton, one of the city’s most prestigious destinations since it opened in 2010, and two others in the same building in the Fort Point neighborhood: the stylish trattoria Sportello and sophisticated cocktail bar Drink. The Butcher Shop and Stir, both in the South End, have also closed.
No. 9 Park, the Beacon Hill institution that her empire was built on, will remain in business, as will the seafood bar B&G Oysters and Ms. Lynch’s newest project, the Rudder, a seasonal restaurant on the waterfront in nearby Gloucester, which opened in June after two years of delays.
About 100 employees have lost their jobs, according to a statement from the company, Barbara Lynch Collective. In a Zoom call on Friday, the company’s new chief operating officer, Lorraine Tomlinson-Hall, who was hired after the Times report was published, called the remaining restaurants “stellar” and noted hopes for expansion on the North Shore, where Ms. Lynch lives.
In the statement, Ms. Lynch attributed the closings to “post-pandemic realities,” financial mismanagement by her previous employees and “an uncooperative landlord.”
Acadia Realty Trust, a New York-based investment company, owns the Fort Point building, one of the first luxury developments in the neighborhood: With Ms. Lynch’s three street-level restaurants, it helped usher in gentrification to the long-neglected area of South Boston, where she was raised.
“Boston is no longer the same place where I opened seven restaurants over the last 25 years,” she wrote. “Properties have been flipped and flipped and the landlords just want the rents that only national chains can sustain.” Acadia Realty did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Ms. Lynch’s statement did not mention the longtime problems created by her alcohol abuse and verbal and physical aggressions against employees, which led to high staff turnover and were an open secret among Boston’s hospitality workers.
After a long, hard climb to the top from her difficult childhood in South Boston, the last years have been a long, hard fall for Ms. Lynch, one of the most famous women in American food, and a leading chef in New England since the 1990s.
At the peak of her success, around 2017, she had countless culinary awards, a best-selling memoir and a spot on Time magazine’s annual Most Influential People list.
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