Throughout her 25-year career, Barbara Lynch earned critical acclaim as a chef and leader in the restaurant industry — earning accolades such as Outstanding Restaurateur in 2013 from the James Beard Foundation and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2017.
But now, almost two dozen former employees have come forward will complaints of physical and sexual abuse. Investigations from The New York Times and the Boston Globe allege the workplace abuse spanned decades.
Lynch’s origin story of overcoming poverty in South Boston and pushing against sexism as a female line cook made her a role model in the restaurant world and beyond. To date, Lynch has launched eight restaurant concepts in the Boston-area through her restaurant group, The Barbara Lynch Collective, and published a memoir, Out of Line, in 2017.
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One of the accusers, Michaela Horan, was a manager at Lynch’s The Butcher Shop from 2018 to 2021. She told the NYT when Lynch consumed alcohol, she’d act erratically — and do things like send out improperly cooked chicken and threaten staff members.
Horan also alleges that Lynch once physically dragged her from behind the bar.
“I just feel like the behavior in the industry has to end, and she is at the forefront of it,” Horan told the Boston Globe.
Oscar Simoza, former head bartender of Lynch’s craft-cocktail bar, Drink, alleged to the outlet that the high profile restauranter would grab workers inappropriately as she pushed her way through the crowded bar.
In a statement to Entrepreneur, Lynch said she is a “creature of the alcohol-steeped restaurant industry” and said she is a “hard-charging boss.” She denied the allegations of abuse.
“The fantastical accusations surfacing now — that employees working side-by-side with me on the same shifts did not see — seem designed to ‘take me down’ and lump me in with peers accused of behavior that is absolutely criminal,” she said in the statement.
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