clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Drink.Well Manager Accuses Owner of Sexual Assault

New, 1 comment

The bar is temporarily closed until early September

A bar with lots of liquor bottles and quilted barstools
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

On Thursday, Becca Yannone, the manager of North Loop bar Drink.Well, posted to Facebook saying that the bar's co-owner Michael Sanders "forcibly kissed me on the mouth, despite being told multiple times not to,” earlier that week. Yannone also wrote that she resigned the next day and that three other employees quit as well in solidarity.

The Facebook post was a reaction to the bar's announcement that it was temporarily closing from Wednesday, August 16 through Tuesday, September 5. On Facebook, the bar said, "we all need to take a break in order to give our best self to others." A now-deleted tweet, which still appears on its website, cited “mechanical issues.” It appears Yannone wanted to set the record straight. See her full Facebook post here:

On Monday night, Michael Sanders, the owner of drink.well and my boss forcibly kissed me on the mouth, despite being...

Posted by Becca Yannone on Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sanders opened Drink.Well with co-owner and wife Jessica Sanders in 2012 and it's grown to become a beloved fixture on North Loop. They followed that with already-popular South Austin bar Backbeat in 2016. Eater has reached out for comments from Yannone and Sanders. Watch this space for updates.

Update, 3:30 p.m.: Michael and Jessica Sanders are no longer involved with Backbeat, according to the following statement released by the South Austin bar's group of investors:

Effective immediately, Backbeat has parted ways with Jessica and Michael Sanders of MJS Ventures, LLC. We have met with our staff and are united in this decision. Backbeat will continue regular operations with our team.

Update, 6:50 p.m.: Jessica Sanders released the following statement:

This comes from my heart:

As a woman, a wife, and a member of an incredible industry that I love deeply, the events of this week have been nearly incomprehensible to me. I am confused and devastated.

On Tuesday, Michael checked into an inpatient rehabilitation facility, where he will remain for as long as necessary. As family, friends and colleagues who are most intimately familiar with us know, Michael has struggled with depression and anxiety for many years. Alcohol abuse has been the means with which he has often dealt with these issues — the consequences of which are now being most deeply felt. Michael has a very long and multifaceted road of recovery ahead of him and he is now in an environment where he can begin that journey. I and his family intend to support him wherever that road leads him.

Meanwhile, I intend to help everyone who has been affected by this. I have reached out to the members of the staff at both bars to be as transparent as I can with them and try to understand what may be needed to heal and move forward. There was a lot I didn’t know then and there’s a lot I still don’t know now. I am working really quickly to understand the full scope of what has transpired here and be as helpful as possible.

The staff that has chosen to remain on at drink.well. during its closure, however long that may be, are being compensated at their full salaries. The investor at Backbeat, Montauriol LLC, have articulated their own statement. Our working relationship with them will be ending effective immediately and that business will continue its operations with the staff there seamlessly without my immediate involvement.

I want to express how grateful I am for every person who has offered a message of love, support and hope for me, my staff and mine & Michael’s families. I ask that the community at large please be as supportive as you can to my entire staff, past and present, while they work through this difficult and complex time. Please know I will be doing all I can to help heal the wounds that may have come out of this.


207 East 53rd Street, , TX 78751 (512) 614-6683 Visit Website