Vansana Nolintha, the co-founder and general manager of high-profile twin Raleigh restaurants Brewery Bhavana and Bida Manda, is stepping down from his position at both restaurants following a flood of sexual assault allegations this weekend against the restaurants’ management. 

The allegations, spread across numerous social media posts from current and former employees, describe a restaurant environment in which sexual harassment was rampant, particularly among upper-management, and in which those who spoke up about harassment were ignored or penalized. Some allegations directly concern Van Nolintha, while others concern Jordan Hester, the beverage director at Brewery Bhavana. 

In a phone call with the INDY, a spokesperson for the restaurants said that as of yesterday, Jordan Hester is also no longer on staff. 

The wave of allegations against the restaurants began to circulate on social media shortly after a staff member published details about a racist incident that had occurred at Bida Manda earlier this year. In response, Van Nolintha posted a statement of apology on Instagram on May 5, saying, “We attempted to de-escalate, which turned our focus away from the person who was harmed. We failed to protect our staff.”

When a former employee commented to ask whether the restaurant would also address the patterns of sexual misconduct at the restaurants, Van Nolintha turned the comments off.

“We take the sexual harassment allegations and conduct complaints for both restaurants very seriously and have decided to bring in an independent third party to investigate allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct,” the restaurant said in a statement. “To ensure the integrity of this investigation, we have asked Van Nolintha to step away from his leadership position within both companies. Our commitment to our employees, guests, and the community is that we will follow the facts wherever they lead, hold the appropriate persons accountable, and take all the actions necessary to restore full confidence in our restaurants, Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana.”

Yesterday in a post, Jeffrey Billman wrote that in May 2019, a former Brewery Bhavana employee contacted the INDY to report sexual harassment she had faced at the restaurant, but the INDY did not investigate.  


Contact deputy arts and culture editor Sarah Edwards at sedwards@indyweek.com.

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3 replies on “Brewery Bhavana, Bida Manda Founder Van Nolintha to Step Down Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations”

  1. The feckless journalism of the INDY Week is on full display with these developments. You had a chance to investigate this when first reported, but instead you turned away. The INDY is not what it used to be and that was clear with the endorsement of pro gentrification city council candidates in last years Raleigh elections. Any credibility you had in regard to journalism has evaporated.

  2. So Indy turned a blind eye as well. Now it’s an important story to cover? A bit hypocritical don’t you think?

  3. You should have written this story when you were first contacted with info about these allegations. You’ve lost all credibility (not that Indy had much left to lose).

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