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Tampa Restaurant Group Closes All Restaurants ‘Indefinitely’ After Former Co-Owner’s Violent Social Media Posts

Its ‘Top Chef’ star and partner also cuts all ties with the company

Interior of Franklin Manor
Franklin Manor Official Website

After massive backlash due to Lanfranco Pescante’s — one of the managing partners and co-owners of Tampa restaurant group Nocturnal Hospitality Group, which owns four eateries in the area — threatening comments he made on a photo of Black Lives Matter protesters, the restaurants have closed all their locations “indefinitely.”

In the two screenshots posted on social media, Pescante is shown commenting from his personal Instagram account saying, “Just shoot them all” on an Instagram post by @officialthebody. The owner of the account says she waited 11 hours for a clarification of the remark, asking, “shoot all who? the protestors?????” and says he didn’t respond. In another post showing Black Lives Matter protesters on the same account, Pescante is shown saying, “This is disgusting. I’d shoot everyone.”

Pescante has since deleted his personal Instagram account and the company has made all of their restaurant Instagram pages for their restaurants private and deleted their Facebook accounts. He released a statement and apology, saying he was stepping down from his role.

“I sincerely apologize for my comments earlier this week. This is an emotional and heated time in our country and, as someone that has tried to bring people together as a career, the last thing I wish to do is to create more divisiveness. With that said there is no excuse for my actions. Effective immediately, I will step down from my role with Nocturnal Hospitality and I will step away from all venues that I am associated with.”

Eater has reached out several times for a comment via phone and email from Nocturnal Hospitality Group, which operates Franklin Manor, Osteria Bar + Kitchen, Mole Y Abuela, and Shibui, but has yet to hear back.

One of Pescante’s business partners is Fabio Viviani, who’s best known for his appearance on Top Chef season 5 to told the Tampa Bay Times that, “The whole team at Fabio Viviani Hospitality does not condone this behavior in any way, shape or form.” Viviani’s hospitality group has also chose to severe ties with Nocturnal, and said they are no longer using their management services for their properties in Tampa.

A rep for Viviani told Creative Loafing that, “FVH (Fabio Viviani Hospitality) is a stakeholder in Osteria Bar + Kitchen, Mole y Abuela and Shibui. Nocturnal Hospitality Group was the local management company with whom FVH engaged last year to run the day to day operations. FVH, its investors, partners, and all Tampa venues have completely cut all ties and are no longer involved with Nocturnal Hospitality Group. Nocturnal Hospitality Group no longer manages, or is associated with, any of the FVH venues in Tampa or anywhere else in the country. FVH has no ties and has never had any ties whatsoever with Franklin Manor.”

Lou Dommer, the Nocturnal Hospitality Group’s CFO and its lead investor, told the Tampa Bay Times that they plan to close, “those venues indefinitely until we determine if there is any viable way forward. We do not condone or support the actions of earlier this week.”

Pescante’s alleged comments are in response to the current country-wide protesting over the death of of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who was killed in police custody when an officer pressed a knee into his neck for more than 8 minutes. Floyd repeatedly stated that he was having trouble breathing.

UPDATE (6/9/20): This post has been updated to reflect Viviani severing all business relations with Nocturnal Hospitality Group and the restaurants now being closed indefinitely

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