British-born Keith McNally grew up from a working-class background in east London and became the king of the New York inner-city restaurant scene.
And the influential restaurateur, who owns a string of eateries, including celebrity hotspot Balthazar in Manhattan’s SoHo, is known for its no-nonsense approach to diva-esque stars.
The outspoken boss James Corden was confronted with for his “abusive” behavior towards servers has rules for his waiters, including not giving stars any special treatment.
The fiery restaurateur, a twice-divorced father of five, labeled James Corden a “little man of a man” after the Late Late Show host yelled “crazy” at staff over an omelette and fries — and previously free. drinks demanded ‘this second’ from Balthazar.
He is no stranger to putting celebrities in their place. fAmed for refusing to give stars special treatment, iIn 1986, while running the Manhattan nightclub Nell’s, he turned down Madonna for refusing to pay the entry fee.
Tell the story, he told the guard: ‘Each customer had to pay $5 to enter. Madonna, who used to waltz into free clubs, refused to pay, so I didn’t let her in.
“She was so mad she called me a ‘f**king b*****d’.
And has said he likes to hand out champagne to single diners – “but never to Al Pacino.”
McNally, 71, built his reputation as the “restaurateur who invented downtown” by opening a string of upscale eateries in Manhattan, including Cafe Luxembourg, Odeon, Minetta Tavern, Morandi, Lucky Strike, Pravda and Pastis.
Keith McNally, 71, built his reputation as the ‘restaurateur who invented downtown’ by opening a string of upscale eateries in New York
McNally moved to New York in 1975, intending to become an actor after starring in Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On in the West End – but he started working in restaurants
The owner insists that waiters should never rush a guest and should not give stars any special treatment. He is seen with Anna Wintour in the restaurant
His celebrity-loved restaurants attract the likes of Mick Jagger, Cher and Andy Warhol, but the McNally has rules for how he treats customers in his eateries — including not to give stars special treatment.
“Make sure they never get drinks on the house, always talk more with the person they’re with than with them,” he told the Sunday Times.
‘Celebrities really get pissed off by too extensive service. They just want to be left alone.’
Not hanging around tables and always repeating orders to customers to make sure no mistakes are made are also part of McNally’s strict demands on his servers to ensure diners have the best experience in the restaurant.
“Be friendly, but never chummy,” he began in a lengthy Instagram post, titled “Restaurant Serving Rules.”
‘Always repeat the customer’s order back. Skate sounds like Steak after one martini.’
McNally built his reputation as the “restaurateur who invented downtown” by opening a string of upscale eateries in Manhattan, including Cafe Luxembourg, Odeon, Minetta Tavern, Morandi, Lucky Strike, Pravda, and Pastis.
Mr Mcnally with Dorinda Medley and Sienna Miller in Balthazar
Balthazar owner Keith McNally shares regular updates from his staff including, on Monday, berating James Corden for his behavior
The restaurant, pictured on Monday, is a popular spot for celebrities, tourists and locals alike – everyone from Anna Wintour to Sienna Miller has eaten at Balthazar
McNally was born in Bethnal Green in East London in 1951, the son of Joyce, a cleaner and Jack, a longshoreman and amateur boxer.
Before turning to restaurants, McNally did a stint in acting after the 16-year-old was discovered by American film producers in 1967 while working as a bellboy at the Hilton on Park Lane.
He was cast in a film about Charles Dickens starring Michael Redgrave, before starring in Alan Bennett’s Forty Years on for a year at the Apollo Theater in the West End.
After this he traveled through India and Afghanistan and then returned to London where he worked on the light board on The Rocky Horror Show and as a stage manager at the Nell Gwynne strip club in Soho, the only job he was ever fired from.
In 1975 he moved to New York, where he intended to become a director, but soon turned his attention to restaurants after working a series of kitchen jobs, from oyster pusher to busboy.
Five years later, he opened his first restaurant, the Odeon in Tribeca, with his first wife Lynn Wagenknecht and his brother Brian, with whom he feuded for years.
James Corden and his wife Julia Carey are accused of returning an egg yolk omelet because it contained ‘a bit of protein’ during a dinner at the luxury restaurant Balthazar. The situation got worse when it came back with fries instead of a salad, the owner claims
It soon became the center of the downtown art scene, including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Anna Wintour, Lorne Michaels and the cast of Saturday Night Live.
Since then he has opened Café Luxembourg, Nell’s, Lucky Strike, Pravda, Balthazar, Pastis, Schiller’s, Morandi, Minetta Tavern, Cherche Midi and Augustine, as well as Balthazar in London.
In 2017, McNally suffered a debilitating stroke that left him paralyzed on one side of his body, and soon after, his second wife Alina McNally served him with divorce papers.
The pandemic was tough on McNally, who said he was losing £5,000 a day at worst and was forced to close six restaurants. He was also hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus.