Celebrity at table 148 - but don't you dare stare
June 8th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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Celebrities have been frequenting restaurants for a while now—the Algonquin Round Table was in full effect in the 1920s. So we won’t pretend it's news to see a famous person sitting in a dining room. But it’s quite amazing to see how far some restaurants go these days to protect their more recognizable guests.

Here’s Ken Friedman, co-owner of such NYC celeb hang-outs as the Spotted Pig and the Breslin, sounding like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. “The first rule at my restaurants is don’t talk about who’s eating at my restaurants.”

Here are some other rules we've seen NYC restaurants employ.

– Close the blinds to the street when the paparazzi line up outside. (A rule followed by the staff at Marea the second someone like Michael Douglas walks in.)

– Seat the best-known people in the corner. At Craft, table #158, deep in the restaurant, is set aside so anyone supremely famous (like LeBron James who rented out Craft's LA outpost for a party) can be escorted right there.

– Seat the best-known people in the kitchen. At his newest restaurant The John Dory, Friedman created a chef’s table in the kitchen.

What about the rumor that Jay-Z wanted a chef’s table, with real chairs, as an alternative to the stools that make up the seating in the rest of the restaurant? “We didn't create the table for anyone in particular," says Friedman. "The chef’s table is fun, it’s in the kitchen,” says Friedman. “Plus who wants to sit on stools all the time? I don’t; neither does Charlie Rose.”

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© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Celebrities • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Restaurants • Service

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Heather

    I think some of the comments here make it pretty obvious why upscale restaurants do go to the bother of protecting celebrities.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  2. Linda S.

    Ridiculous, if these so called "celebrities" can't stand the heat, they should stay out of the kitchen AND restaurants. Isn't that all part and parcel of "fame"? Get over it, get used to it, or go back to the real world of some mundane office worker or become a plumber. The general public enjoys seeing the occassional celebrity, but should be respectful at the same time. If you want an autograph or a picture with them, write a note to a waiter or busboy and have it sent over with same requesting such, instead of barging over and interupting them. Or - if you can afford it, send them a bottle of wine with a note. I once did that to Jack Lemmon, wrote a quick note telling him how much I enjoyed his work. He looked over to me and smiled and gave me a respectful salute. It was cool. But, on the other hand, isn't being asked for your autograph in public all part of your world?

    June 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  3. Frank

    Well, La-de-da!

    Sick of hearing about about how famous people are treated oh-so-special. So, you act on TV or in a movie. So you bounce a ball on a court. So you sing on a record. Why should you get special treatment?

    June 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  4. Charlotte

    what about those of us who have more than once been mistaken for celebrities? That just gets surreal. The first time someone came up and told me I look just like a particular star, the question was phrased "Has anyone ever told you you look JUST LIKE.....??" I had to say 'no' and moreover I kind of had to wonder if they'd had too much wine. But then I started getting the same thing in other places, in other countries, usually in restaurants. I could no longer say "No, nobody has ever told me this" and it's been awkward on the occasions when they actually think I really AM the person. Alas, as a mere lookalike, I don't get the special hidden table!

    June 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  5. @marv

    You were the gullible kid who fell for everything in grade school, weren't you?

    June 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  6. DDSilks

    This is the price you pay for getting $10 million per film! It may be annoying, but if they have no fans, they have no career.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  7. Evil Grin

    Makes sense. I would get annoyed with people watching every move I make as well. I'm sure even the most narcissistic among quite a narcissistic bunch would want a night to just go and have dinner without watchful eyes once in awhile. Restaurants that can accommodate are good.

    However, sitting in the kitchen? Not so sure that would be a treat for me. It's hot in there, loud and busy. As special as it would be, I'm not sure it would be preferable to an out-of-the-way normal table.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  8. dragonwife

    Celebrities should expect a certain amount of staring and attention – after all, they ARE celebrities – and they should be gracious enough to accept it as part of the responsibilities of having that fame. In other words, no making a fuss and demanding special treatment if it interferes with other guests' meals, no arrogant attitude of "Do you know who I am?", and so forth. However, I also think that people, including the paparazzi, should in return be gracious to the celebrity and behave politely – no walking over to the table and asking for autographs; no yelling, "OMG! It's HIM!" or anything else; no picture-taking unless it can be done very unobtrusively and discreetly; and so on.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  9. f

    Personally i could care less. These celebrities are no better than the next person in line. I would look but then get on with my life, they're no better than me or you. And if they have a problem with people looking, they shouldnt have gone into the acting buisness, or they shouldnt go out to eat. Can't handle the insecurities they have then they shouldnt be in the spotlight, hollywood is tough, with all the media coverage and eyes watching. Deal with it

    June 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  10. Jay-Z

    Jay-Z here, and yeah I acksed for the kitchen table to be re-upgraded so that i cud sit wit my homsies in the austere privacy in a club like atmosphere. Ur poor, I'm not, so I gets the gud table and you donts. C-Ya haterz!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Truth@Lay-Z

      You are nothing more than a rap stooge and media hack. You come off as an arrogant azz and Beyonce stays with you is beyond me.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
      • Jay-Z

        Dear Hater, Beyonce stay with me cuz I'm the best. Google, hottest, most talented man on the planet. Result: Jay-Z in dah house!

        June 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Beyonce@Jay-Z

      Honey, I thought we had been through this. You need to use your big-boy words now. I know the remedial kindergarten may be a bit demeaning, but you might want to try a little harder!

      June 8, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • marv

      Truth... like you just answered this guy like he's really Jay-Z. Get a grip.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
      • Jay-Z

        What?!! You be trippin Marv. I google my name every dam day and check out how my brand is checkin? You feel me? Don't question my authenticity. And even if yu do, I'm rich, sucessful, smart and beutiful. Yur none of these... and poor!

        June 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
      • JBJingles@marv

        I think he knows...maybe you broke you funny bone when you were a kid??

        June 8, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  11. gkingii

    Sorry. I won't look at your games or movies or buy your music, but I'll darn sure look at you if I see you out and about.
    And I might even point and laugh. Out loud.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  12. DNA

    pffft. Who wants to see them *eat*? The crapper is where the real action happens.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  13. Lisha

    Jeez...Let's not pay them any ATTENTION and wait for their movies to come out on HBO......While I understand that being a celebrity is hard there seems to be no happy medium.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  14. James

    Last time I checked, celebs were just smelly human beings like the rest of us. So, they can catch a ball or are really good at make-pretend. Big deal. Mix with the riff raff, it keeps the head from swelling.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  15. Bubba

    So THAT'S why they always seat me near the kitchen! I thought it was because i kept orderin' gator tail.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  16. f

    How ridiculous! You work hard (or not at all) get rich, get famous, and have to eat in the kitchen?

    June 8, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  17. Mark

    Not much into celebs and what and where they eat but the "3-Step Summer Recipes" link scores some great recipes. Gonna try Skirt Steak with Paprika Butter.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Mildred

      I want to try the tipsy plum & raspberry dessert... I love plum wine!

      June 8, 2011 at 11:19 am |
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