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Patrons are turning against a famous restaurateur over his controversial Instagram posts about Ghislaine Maxwell

INSIDER logo INSIDER 5/7/2021 insider@insider.com (Rachel Askinasi)
Ghislaine Maxwell holding a glass of wine: Keith McNally owns Pastis, Balthazar, and Minetta Tavern in New York City. Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images and Alexi Rosenfeld/Contributor/Getty Images © Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images and Alexi Rosenfeld/Contributor/Getty Images Keith McNally owns Pastis, Balthazar, and Minetta Tavern in New York City. Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images and Alexi Rosenfeld/Contributor/Getty Images
  • New York restaurateur Keith McNally shared two controversial Instagram posts about Ghislaine Maxwell.
  • Maxwell was arrested in July 2020 on charges that she arranged and participated in the abuse of young girls.
  • Patrons and some chefs are calling out McNally for seemingly supporting Maxwell.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Restaurant patrons are calling out Keith McNally, a well-known New York City restaurateur, after he shared controversial Instagram posts on Wednesday that seemingly support Ghislaine Maxwell.

McNally, who owns socialite hot spots Pastis, Balthazar, and Minetta Tavern, said Maxwell - the longtime associate of the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein - should be given a fair trial in the caption of one of his posts. Maxwell was arrested in July 2020 on charges that she arranged and participated in the abuse of young girls, Insider previously reported.

"Let's not rush to judgment," the caption on McNally's post read. "Ghislaine Maxwell is currently innocent. She must be given a fair trial. Due Process is the core of democracy."

A post shared by Keith McNally (@keithmcnallynyc)

McNally's comments came just over a week after Maxwell appeared in court on April 23 and pleaded not guilty to the original charges, as well as charges of sex trafficking that came in an indictment in March.

McNally did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The restaurateur's post was flooded with angry comments from patrons, some chefs, and an apparent former employee, Kev Berry, who wrote: "I keep looking at this post in disbelief, and I cannot f---ing believe I worked for you for 3 and a half years." Berry declined to comment further when reached by Insider.

Many people left comments suggesting that they wouldn't be returning to McNally's restaurants.

"This New Yorker just said 'nope' to ever eating in one of your spots again," one person wrote.

Another commented: "Yikes. Loved your restaurants but may never return. Maybe do some research before alienating your customers to defend a criminal. Truly shocked I ever ate at your restaurants."

"As a born and raised New Yorker, and someone who grew up in Soho your restaurants were staples in my childhood," wrote Madison Utendahl, founder of multi-disciplinary creative studio Utendahl Creative. "You are embarrassing New Yorkers and a horrific example of soho residents who supported you for years," Utendahl said later in her comment.

Chef Adam Greenberg, who has appeared on Food Network's "Chopped," wrote: "This post is so disgusting and disrespectful to the many families and [women] who have endured the wrath of Epstein and her."

McNally then followed up his original post with another, this time comparing Maxwell's situation to the accusations of "adultery and prostitution" against the biblical Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus who has been depicted as many things, including a prostitute, as a Smithsonian Magazine article notes.

A post shared by Keith McNally (@keithmcnallynyc)

"To be accused of adultery and prostitution as Mary Magdalen was in Christ's time, was as serious Then, as the crimes which Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of today," McNally wrote in the caption. "Thankfully, adultery and prostitution - in the western world - are no longer thought by most people as 'crimes.' Hopefully, the crimes that Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of today, will remain just as vile and abhorrent until eternity."

McNally continued: "Although I think Maxwell is guilty, I'd be reluctant to say so publicly, until she's given Due Process and found guilty by a court of law."

This isn't the first time McNally has landed in hot water over an Instagram post.

Some followers called him out for sharing a post of writer and director Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi at Balthazar in April. Allen was accused by his former adopted daughter, Dylan, of sexually abusing her at the age of 7. Allen was never charged for a crime in connection with the accusations and has denied them for years.

A post shared by Keith McNally (@keithmcnallynyc)

"I've never been as happy at Balthazar as I was last night to see the beautiful Soon-Yi and her husband dining there," McNally wrote in the caption of that post.

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