The co-founder of dessert boutique chain Sucre, Tariq Hanna, resigned from the company he helped start this past August, and today NOLA.com reports it was the result of several employees who had made complaints internally alleging sexual harassment.
Brett Anderson reports that according to current and former Sucre employees, the complaints made at the time were a sample of what employees say was a sexually exploitative culture toward women on staff that dates back to the company’s conception in 2007. Interviews with 20 of Hanna’s friends and colleagues “paint a picture of a chef who habitually mixed professional mentorship with sex; hosted topless pool parties at his Uptown home and encouraged female employees he managed to attend; and caused people to feel he would retaliate against those he suspected of exposing his activity to others.”
At the time of Hanna’s departure, he indicated that though he was resigning from day-to-day work at Sucre, he would remain a partial owner of the company. Additionally, he said, “all I really want to do right now is refuel, recharge my creativity and see what the future brings.”
A statement regarding the allegations from an attorney representing Sucre says that “to the extent that there have been allegations of sexual harassment, Sucre fully investigated any and all alleged claims.” The statement also points out that Sucre has “female members in its ownership, a female human resources director and a female executive chef,” and said Hanna has sold his shares in the company to one of the current owners.
Among the bombshell revelations in NOLA.com’s reporting:
- A statement from a chocolatier, Brittany Buchanan, who alleges she knew she needed to leave the job if she didn’t want to sleep with Hanna
- Text messages shared with the publication sent to a female pastry chef from Hanna telling her to get Buchanan “comfortable with wanting to be naked for me”
- Three early to mid-20s employees who had consensual sexual relationships with Hanna that eventually soured and later experienced “guilt and shame while working in an emotionally unhealthy and toxic environment.”
Hanna co-founded the company in 2007 and lead the brand for a dozen years; in the spring of 2015, the company expanded, opening Salon by Sucre at 622 Conti Street in the French Quarter, a restaurant that featured brunch, lunch and tea service in addition to its signature pastries.
Anderson notes that several current and former Sucre staffers described Hanna as a friendly boss and reacted with disbelief at the other employees’ suggestions of him cultivating an inappropriate work environment.
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