A longtime Maine summer resident and Michelin-star chef is planning to reopen his Stonington restaurant for the winter even as he comes under fire for allegedly mistreating employees at his Chicago restaurant.
The Stonington restaurant has not been open this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Chef Ryan McCaskey is planning to reopen the restaurant five days a week for the coming winter, according to a report last week in the weekly Island Ad-vantages newspaper.
Last month in Chicago, a former server at McCaskey’s Maine-inspired Acadia restaurant was granted an emergency no-contact order in a Cook County, Illinois, court that bars McCaskey from having any contact with or coming within 1,000 feet of him, according to the Chicago Tribune. The former server accuses McCaskey of harassing him online through emails and messages and of creating a website that taunted the server and damaged his reputation, Eater reported.
The no-contact order has been extended until Oct. 22, Eater Chicago reported.
Attempts this week to contact McCaskey have been unsuccessful.
Roger Malavia, a Chicago attorney representing McCaskey, said Friday that in Chicago anyone can get a restraining order against someone else without notifying the other party first or offering any evidence to a court. He said McCaskey has had nothing to do with the alleged harassment, but that his reputation is suffering “immeasurable damage” from the accusations, which will be preserved forever on the internet.
“That can’t be undone,” Malavia said. “It’s just a product of our times. It’s really a shame.”
He said that McCaskey will appear in court on Oct. 22 hearing to contest the allegations.
McCaskey opened Acadia House Provisions on Main Street in Stonington in 2019, in a space formerly occupied by the restaurant Aragosta, which now is in neighboring Deer Isle. McCaskey has summered in Stonington since he was 9 and worked as a sous chef and pastry chef at Goose Cove Lodge in Deer Isle in the 1990s, according to the Ellsworth American newspaper.
McCaskey’s Chicago restaurant opened in 2011 and has been awarded two Michelin stars, one of only four restaurants in the city with that many, according to the Tribune. McCaskey himself has been nominated multiple times for James Beard Foundation awards. The restaurant has been closed temporarily since August.
Cody Nason, the former employee who obtained the no-contact order against the chef, told the Tribune that he contributed to information about the Chicago restaurant that was posted on Instagram this past July. The post was made from @the86dlist Instagram account, which describes itself as anonymously sharing “stories of racism and abuse in the Chicago restaurant industry.”
The alleged online retaliatory harassment against Nason began in August, the Tribune reported.
Others who worked with or had contact with McCaskey at the Chicago restaurant told Eater Chicago that the chef often made women feel uncomfortable and that they felt pressured to appear as his dates at industry events, reply to late-night text messages and update him on their dating lives. He also hired strippers to perform at after-hours parties at the restaurant, the former employees told Eater. Multiple employees told the publication they felt pressured to attend parties and take trips to Maine characterized by excessive drug and alcohol use.
In 2017, another former employee at the Chicago restaurant obtained a no-contact order against McCaskey, but that order lapsed after she failed to show up for a subsequent court hearing, according to the Tribune.