Threatened with ban by Balthazar, Shvo claps back
McNally: If developer “tries to seat himself again, he'll join Graydon Carter on Balthazar's 86 list”
Balthazar’s Keith McNally unleashed a tirade against Michael Shvo in a public Instagram post, putting the real estate bad boy on notice for his behavior at the swanky Soho restaurant.
Then Seren Shvo, Michael’s wife, clapped back.
In an Instagram post, McNally threatened to banish Shvo from the restaurant and remove him from the vaunted “AA” or “always accommodate” list. The beef stemmed from an incident between Shvo and the eatery’s maitre d’ on Sunday.
According to the employee, Shvo brushed past the maitre d’s stand and sat at the best table. Confronted about breaking protocol, Shvo allegedly dismissed the head of house and said he always got a booth and therefore assumed it was his table.
“How F. presumptuous! This obnoxious, entitled behavior is the Height of Arrogance,” McNally wrote in an Instagram post.
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But Seren gave her own account of events in a reply to McNally’s Instagram post. Seren said the two had been having brunch at Balthazar every Sunday for 15 years or more and in the past had always followed the rules.
“Never had any incidents, never NOT checked in and walked by assuming a table is ours,” she said.
Seren said this time, her baby had fallen asleep. As she did not have a stroller and it was cold outside, they walked inside the Soho eatery. (Check-in is being handled outdoors because of the pandemic.) She noted the couple always sits at a booth and there was only one booth empty so they walked by and stood by it.
“While I was standing, Michael went outside to find the maitre D to check in, but before he can, a lady came to (the) table, very politely greeted us, and said ‘happy you found your table Mr Shvo,’ welcome,” she wrote.
The feud sheds a light on the prestigious VIP list at Balthazar and how the real estate elite dine in New York. While ordinary folks grovel for a reservation, calling weeks or months in advance for a spot or waiting in line to get on a list, masters of the universe and Celebrity A listers have their own system. Certain tables are always expected and lines are a no-go.
Balthazar, run by the bombastic McNally, is a staple for New York’s rich and famous. McNally opened the eatery in 1997 and its menu consists of traditional Parisian brasserie fare.
McNally’s dispute with Shvo would be far from the chef’s first public spat. He blacklisted former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter for reserving a table for 12 and failing to appear or cancel with reasonable advance notice. McNally claimed that Carter was a regular no-show at his establishments, including at Minetta Tavern and Morandi.
McNally mentioned Carter in his Instagram post shaming Shvo.
“If he ever tries to seat himself again, he’ll join Graydon Carter on Balthazar’s 86 list,” the restaurateur said.
But Shvo might be a tougher foe than Carter, who stepped down from his post at Vanity Fair in 2017. The broker-turned-developer, whose eponymous firm oversees 4.5 million square feet of real estate worth $7.2 billion, is deeply involved in the fine dining world. Shvo partnered with Daniel Boulud to create a residents-only private dining space at 685 Fifth Avenue in the Mandarin Oriental Residences. Boulud is also teaming up with Shvo for his Mandarin Oriental project in Beverly Hills.
Shvo is also becoming a bigger player in the Miami area, where he plans to redevelop the historic Raleigh Miami Beach hotel and build a residential tower.
McNally may well cross paths with his new social media pen pan. The chef is likewise expanding into the red-hot Miami market. McNally’s New York City institution Pastis signed a long-term lease in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood to bring its first restaurant to South Florida.
McNally, for his part, does not seem concerned about potential backlash for his online posts.
“I’m not shy to say what’s on my mind,” McNally said in a recent interview for a profile in New York Magazine. “This sometimes results in drama.”