UPDATE: Additional comments from Hagan added in regards to allegations.
The attorneys representing the former Acadia employee who accuses chef Ryan McCaskey, of mounting an online harassment campaign say a website used to tarnish their client’s reputation is registered to a man who worked at McCaskey’s restaurants in Chicago and Maine. During a Friday court hearing, lawyers for former Acadia serve Cody Nason said reps from GoDaddy told them that CodyNason.com was registered to Corby Hagan, who last worked with McCaskey in 2019 in Maine at Acadia Provisions as the restaurant’s general manager.
The website was central to Nason’s request for an emergency “no-contact” order filed against McCaskey. Nason filed the request in September after he and his attorney, Daliah Saper, received harassing messages from an anonymous email account they say was really McCaskey. McCaskey denies doing this, and denies all other wrongdoing associated with the case.
Nason and McCaskey attended Friday’s court hearing virtually with Cook County Judge Thomas Cushing presiding. According to Saper, GoDaddy said that a credit card bearing Hagan’s name was used to secure the “CodyNason.com” domain. According to Saper, Hagan told her team that the credit card did not belong to him. Saper is in the process of filing a subpoena with Visa (and Hagan), requesting the credit card company to verify Hagan’s claim.
Hagan tells Eater Chicago he had “nothing to do with any credit card used on the website” and that he “did not register the website.” He adds that he hasn’t spoken with Saper or any attorneys linked to the case. He did verify that he worked at McCaskey’s restaurant in 2017 in Chicago and in 2019 in Maine — the state where McCaskey currently resides. He added that he hasn’t seen McCaskey since 2019, which is before the website in question launched in summer 2020. Hagan also that he worked with Nason at the Maine restaurant and echoed allegations made in a counterclaim filed by McCaskey. That claim, filed in November, Nason was fired from Acadia for allegedly “abusing alcohol on the job.” On Friday, three former Acadia workers. tell Eater Chicago that Hagan and McCaskey were close and that it did not surprise them if he sided with his former boss.
That conclusion was disputed by Hagan, who said he had brief tenures at both Acadia locations. He also reiterated that he had not seen McCaskey since 2019.
CodyNason.com included photos and text that claimed Nason was a pedophile and made references to his deceased brother. Nason alleges that his former boss McCaskey figured out that he was among the workers who supplied info for Instagram posts critical of their former boss. That led McCaskey to retaliate by creating the website and to send harassing anonymous emails, according to court papers filed by Nason’s lawyers.
During Friday’s court hearing, one of McCaskey’s two attorneys — Roger Malavia — suggested Hagan’s supposed involvement would mean his client was not responsible for the website. Judge Cushing warned Malavia that spinning Saper’s words had no legal bearing on the hearing’s result.
It’s another twist in the case against McCaskey, the chef and owner of Acadia, a 10-year-old Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago’s South Loop. Over the summer, a group of McCaskey’s former workers shared allegations of a toxic work environment at Acadia, using Instagram to post their accounts of mistreatment. Unverified allegations were published on an Instagram handle that aggregated service worker stories. @The86dList emerged after the George Floyd protest over the summer, and has since gone dark without a post since late July. Eater Chicago spoke with several of members of the industry — including former Acadia workers and public relations representatives — who corroborated some of the stories posted online.
In court, Saper said her team’s sent subpoenas to digital companies Yelp, GoDaddy, and Microsoft. The lawyers hope the companies can provide information to reveal if McCaskey was behind the website posted in July designed to ruin the reputation of their client.
Acadia has remained closed since the summer, but McCaskey tells Eater Chicago that he intends to eventually reopen.
The next court date is scheduled for March 10.