TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – In a stunning move, celebrity chef Fabio Viviani has severed ties with all Tampa restaurants he was once affiliated with following comments made by the now-former co-owner of Franklin Manor.
Viviani, who was made famous by the Bravo show “Top Chef,” was associated with Tampa restaurants Osteria Bar + Kitchen, Mole y Abuela and Shibui. The restaurants are located on North Franklin Street in downtown Tampa.
Viviani, through a public relations firm, sent the following statement to 8 On Your Side:
“In light of the evolving news coming out of Tampa, Fabio Viviani Hospitality [FVH] will step away from Nocturnal Hospitality Group and all associated venues including Osteria Bar + Kitchen, Mole y Abuela and Shibui. The FVH team stands solid on our principles and values and will separate immediately and completely. Effectively immediately, Fabio Viviani and his team will have no involvement or ownership in these venues whatsoever.”
Nocturnal Hospitality Group runs Franklin Manor. The former co-owner of that establishment, Lanfranco Pescante, posted on Instagram earlier this week, saying “just shoot them all,” an apparent reference to protesters marching in Tampa streets following the death of George Floyd.
Pescante resigned from the restaurant he opened with David Anderson and also stepped down from his role at Nocturnal Hospitality Group.
Since the news broke, dozens of comments have been posted on social media pages, claiming racism and harassment by Pescante. 8 On Your Side has not been able to independently confirm the claims.
“Any type of insensitive comment – racist, whatever that is – that’s just part of someone’s character who is a horrible person,” said Carmen Caliente, who said she has known Pescante since she was 19. “So if you’re a horrible person in that retrospect, you’re probably a horrible person in every way.”
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan confirmed Wednesday that the FBI and the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office are looking into the comment by Pescante. 8 On Your Side has reached out to an FBI spokeswoman for comment. She said she cannot confirm or deny an investigation per FBI policy.
Viviani, who helped create Osteria and won “fan favorite” on “Top Chef” in 2008, is a hospitality developer, best selling cookbook author and TV host, according to his online biography.
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