An afternoon with Michael McCarty

For as long as I can remember, I have loved a party and there is no better party than a great restaurant alive with conversation, clinking glasses, smooth service and delicious food..

Michael is an enigmatic personality. He is what restaurateurs should be like – warm, welcoming and with a presence that all guests recognise. I could talk to Michael for hours, but as time was limited I took away a very wonderful and simple story of how to create an electric restaurant concept that was simply invented before the internet and still manages to maintain that special atmosphere. The last time I met someone like him was Ken Aretsky of Aretsky’s Patroon. It’s a dying art of running restaurants.

‘I grew up in the Hudson and my father commuted here all the time. My parents loved to cook. This was more their lifestyle. They had the best products, suppliers and seasonal ingredients. We ate and entertained a lot!

We have fantastic farms in Rhode Island, where we spent our summers. All kinds of foods and this lifestyle that demanded eating well and surrounding yourself with good people. The internet has changed things now.

I experienced true hospitality at a restaurant called Laurent in New York. I saw the electricity at this restaurant and realised that this is how a place should be run. You get paid to throw a great party. The next day I headed off to Brittany and continued on for an apprenticeship.

Passion is behind everything Michael’s does and this is theatrical. When we first opened we attracted a very strong crowd in LA. All the movie stars came in and screenwriters were coming in. We were this unique new American restaurant and it was a very exciting time for me. Ralph Lauren designed the staff’s uniforms. It may seem simple in this day and age but back then this was a refreshing concept in the 80’s.

Our goal was to take gastronomy and take it out of the home economics department and put it in to the arts.’

And now to me, Michael’s concept made absolute sense – as I sat in the Midtown New York location, I was surrounded not just by great food and amazing personalities, but I was also surrounded by art and tasteful music lifting the place on this 2nd December afternoon leading up to Christmas. Michael seemed to know most of the diners that lunch service and this is exactly what makes this place home.


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