Pastis: Pioneering Meatpacking Eatery to Shut?

What’s to become of a Meatpacking District pioneering eatery? Pastis is a restaurant responsible for putting this high-end NYC neighborhood on the map. (Not literally – there’s city planners that actually do that.) In 1999, "Meatpacking pioneer" Keith McNally opened the restaurant’s doors – taking great pains to reproduce a 1930s Parisian brasserie; adorning the establishment with items found at overseas flea markets. People were happy. Children were smiling. Onion Soup Gratinee was served. Life seemed good…

Now the whip comes down; Pastis may be shutting it’s doors – and also closing once those doors are shut! This maneuver could take effect as early as January 1st; basically the restaurant is laying off 200 employees on that date; just read between the entrees to figure out what’s going on.

So last call on Seared Organic Salmon (with baby spinach); final orders on Moules Frites au Pernod ($23). Remember what Raymond Chandler once said: “To say goodbye is to die a little – and boy does Pastis serve a great Grilled Chicken Paillard!" Check please…

Twenty-Something Women’s Shortcut To Success: 40:20 Vision

At a crowded brunch at New York’s Pastis, Christina Vuleta (pictured) was serendipitously struck with an idea: a mentoring forum named 40:20 Vision, where women in their 40s can pass on their perspective and advice to women in their 20s. Two years later, and currently a blog and a frequent in-person meet-up, 40:20 has become responsible for bringing 20-somethings face-to-face and blog-to-blog with the very women that can help them. Covering such topics as friends and family, self and wellness, and finances, the blog is a multi-generational advisory panel where both parties can write in and ask questions, anonymously or not.

At a café, my 20-something self spoke with Christina’s 40-something self, which lead to the later opportunity of attending one of 40:20’s in-person meet-ups, known as 7×7 mentoring salons. At the salon—which was a unique 7×7 reunion event—I witnessed 40:20’s networking magic in action, as experienced 40-somethings and aspiring 20-somethings connected with each other on professional and personal levels, leaving with more than just a business card.

Here, founder and trend consultant Christina shares 40:20’s roadtrip-filled journey, 40-somethings’ thoughts on Girls, and the power of taking shortcuts.

Where were you in life when you came up with the idea for 40:20 Vision?
I was at a point where I loved my job, and things had finally really come together for me professionally. Personally, I had just been married for several years. It’s funny that I quit my job at a time when I actually was at the height of my career.

Tell me about that fateful brunch at Pastis.
I was with seven 40-something girlfriends at Pastis, and we were waiting in line for a table. We noticed these two 20-something women at the bar. They asked us for advice about living in NYC, our careers, how we navigated it all. When my friends and I finally got to our table, I said, “I wish we could just bottle this advice and give it to those girls, because they’re so amazing, but they don’t have any idea how amazing they are.” One of my friends said, “You have to live it to learn it, there’s no way around it.” And I responded, “Well, who says?” I looked around the table at the seven woman whom have all made such different decisions regarding dating, marriage, careers. We’re the first generation of women who have benefitted from making choices and actually doing the things we want to do. We have so many perspectives to share. And that’s when I realized I had hit upon something.

And did you run home and start brainstorming ideas?
Yes! That day I came up with the name “40:20 Vision” after we talked about 20:20 hindsight at the table, and I literally went home and began a business plan on making it into a book. I thought it would write itself, and that I could just email all my 40-something friends and compile the one advice they offer, but they didn’t answer my emails right away, and they didn’t think they had much to say. So I decided to research. I quit my job and roadtripped around the country for six months, interviewing a wide variety of women, building off of connections from friends and family and colleagues. 

What quality did you find universal among all of these women?
That we’re always comparing the worst of ourselves with the best of others. We compare our inner insecurities with the outside picture other people show to the world. But everybody’s got their shit, which is why you have to care less about what other people think.

What’s something someone said in an interview that’s resonated with you ever since?
One woman in California said, “I’m past the period of my life where I’m filling my life. Now I’m at the point where I am fulfilling my life.” I thought that was so insightful. You fill your life with things, and to-do things, and the fear of missing out, and then you come to a point where you finally allow yourself to become selfish. You focus inward, which actually leads you to give more to others.

It’s strange how your 20s is considered an era of selfishness and “living for you,” when really it’s a time when you’re faced with so many choices and so much paralyzing judgment surrounding those choices.
Exactly. Lena Dunham made a great point in an interview. She said "20-something women have self-confidence, but they don’t have self-worth.” The 20-somethings are so seemingly self-confident today, doing lots of diverse things and are so smart, but it’s hard for them to respect themselves because they still haven’t truly been tested yet. This shows up in the way they allow others to treat them.

What do 40-somethings think of the show Girls?
Some really love it, some hate it. Some find it too whiney and self-absorbed. I asked 20-somethings, and they said it felt realistic, but not aspirational. With Sex and the City, they aspired to have that lifestyle, even though it was not realistic. But with Girls, no one aspires to be them. The 20-somethings I spoke to definitely did not relate to the way the Girls are supported by their parents, since most 20-somethings take pride in their career and supporting themselves.

Perhaps because the Sex and the City characters were in their 30s, not their 20s, so they have their lives together a bit more. 
Perhaps. Which is why 20-somethings can relate to the Girls not knowing what they’re doing at all. 

Tell me about your in-person 7×7 mentoring salons.
7×7 is the off-line version of 40:20 Vision. It brings together seven experienced 40-somethings and seven aspiring 20-somethings to meet and discuss topics like entrepreneurship, career change, and personal finance. Networking is great, but these salons fast-track it a bit. In one night, you can find the person who relates to what you’re doing, and can affect your career. Some of these women who’ve met have become very close friends.

So what do the 40-somethings get from their mentorship of 20-somethings?
Besides just feeling good about helping them, the 20-somethings have showed them how to work the system and cut through lines. The younger group is pretty scrappy and unafraid of cutting through the system, while the 40-somethings are used to a more formal approach, so they’re learning this from them.

How do you see 40:20 expanding? Into 40:60, a book, TV show?
All of the above. It’s an idea that can become so many things. I feel like I’m creating a movement that gives people shortcuts in their lives, whether in relationships or their careers. The feedback I’m getting from the blog and 7x7s is that one connection can make a huge impact. If 20-somethings knew their power, this world would be a crazy place.

Follow 40:20 Vision and Bonnie on Twitter. 

Vahram Muratyan’s Love Letters to Paris & New York

When it comes to the age-old dispute over the relative greatness of Paris and New York, graphic designer and artistic director Vahram Muratyan refuses to play favorites. Despite being born in Paris, Muratyan isn’t shy about revealing that his heart belongs to the City of Lights as much as to the Big Apple. “When I’m in Paris, I miss New York, and when I’m in New York, I miss Paris. It’s really impossible to choose,” explains Muratyan, whose love affair with New York began to take shape as a young boy travelling to the city with his mother and older brother. What started off as summer trips with his family soon grew into trans-Atlantic solo voyages exploring the city as a young adult. Two years ago, at the age of 30, Muratyan’s three-month stay in New York inspired his fanciful blog, Paris versus New York: A Tally of Two Cities.

Through eye-catching, minimalist graphics and snappy copy, Muratyan translates this historical duel into art on the witty blog he launched back in October of 2010. Illustrations of instantly recognizable landscapes, clichés, and famous faces from both cities are pitted against each other. A macaroon vs. a cupcake, a bagel vs. a baguette, and a petite espresso vs. an obscene paper cup of joe are some of the friendly battles featured in the anticipated book version of Muratyan’s popular blog, currently available from Penguin Books. Over espresso at French restaurant Pastis in New York’s Meatpacking District, Muratyan talked to us about his devotion to both New York and Paris, his new book, and why he’ll always be a city boy at heart.

How did the idea for your blog come to fruition?
I wanted to create a diary as a way to keep in touch with my family and friends in Paris. This was my tenth and longest visit to New York, and I wanted to do something to explain why I was obsessed with New York. Also, it was about how I missed Paris. I would ride the subway and draw people in my sketch book. I saw a woman with a big coffee in her hand and it made me think about how that is a very New York thing to do. Some people [in Paris] started adopting that habit but not like in New York where everyone is doing it. Maybe those people in Paris are tourists with their own habits. Parisians want to resist the coffee cup thing. The idea started with me drawing the coffee sizes, then everything else just started popping up.

It didn’t take long for your blog to gain a following. Were you surprised?
I never thought it would be that popular. It was a really a great surprise. I thought, Let me do the blog and see if I can take ten images to feature in an exhibit back in France. Immediately readers were commenting that they wanted these as posters in their place. I did not see that coming. I began to sell the prints two weeks after the blog was launched. It was obvious from the feedback from readers that nobody wanted something on Venice or Rome. Those are great cities, but when you bring up Paris and New York, people tend get much more passionate.

These images have a very a retro look and feel to them. Was that intentional?
The technique was simple because I wanted something that could be done on paper. It was homage to the graphic design period of the ‘50s and ‘60s. I wanted something vintage. The book, of course, was maybe in the back of my mind. I’m a book designer, too, so in some ways with the split page format already had the feeling of a book.

The spot-on captions for each illustration are written in the city’s respective languages. Nevertheless, nothing gets lost in translation. The images tend to speak for themselves.
That was a question we faced. In France, the English copy is translated in French. In New York, we said, Let’s keep the French copy because it’s more fun. It was also a way of showing the spirit of the two cities. Parisians and New Yorkers share an inferiority complex and that’s part of the competition. Some of the copy came from the top of my head and other times the team would make suggestions. The image is what inspires the copy, but it always starts with an idea.

When did you start coming to New York and what was your initial impression?
My mother used to work at the head office of TWA in Paris, so she travelled with my brother and I during the summertime to New York. The tickets were not very expensive, but we had to travel stand-by. We never knew if we could get on the plane. I loved that feeling of nervously waiting. When you are a child, you just don’t understand why you can’t get on the plane. After TWA shut down and as I got older, I had to work to afford tickets to travel. This was my objective for the last 10 years. When I was a child, I was excited by the fact that everything seemed so much bigger in New York. I thought it was smelly, but the mixes of smells were great. It was crowded and there was a sense of danger. This was in the ‘80s. When I travel now, I focus on how the city markets itself. As a child, I noticed how much the city reinvented itself. Every time I would come to New York, it would be different. Maybe I’m much more blasé now but I don’t see that happening as much.

Where do you live in Paris?
I live in the 3rd arrondissement. The map drawing in the book shows you how it’s in a way like Chelsea and Noho (New York). You have that same mix of galleries and boutiques. There’s also Le Marché des Enfants Rouges; which is a smaller version of the Chelsea Market. There’s a lot of bobos (French for hipsters). It can be exhausting because everyone looks the same. That’s what happens in a lot in cities. Here in New York, people leave Manhattan to find new things in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, Brooklyn then starts looking the same, too.

There seems to be a lot of French people visiting and moving to Brooklyn. What are your thoughts on Brooklyn?
I think Brooklyn is exciting, so I try to go there often. I love Cobble Hill because there are a lot of paper and printing shops there. I also like the Italian vibe there. The first week I was in New York for three months, people said we have to go to this pizza place in Bushwick. What is funny is the number of people I ran into there that I knew from Paris. You walk a lot in Brooklyn, and I love that because it’s a promise of future discoveries. In Paris, if I told someone they would have to walk 20 minutes from the métro to get to a restaurant or a party, they wouldn’t go there. Some are snobby and don’t go out of their areas. You also don’t have thousands of cabs like in New York, so movement keeps people from going outside their areas. In New York, the same Parisians will walk with no problem. I have friends who visit from Paris and go straight to Brooklyn. They will not go to Manhattan. If they go to Manhattan, it’s just maybe to go to MoMA. The French want the neighborhood feeling, café culture, and bohemian spirit that Brooklyn has. When I was a teenager, I was staying in Long Island City. At that time in the ‘90s, people would be like, What Long Island City? Astoria? You’re getting on the number seven train? They were making fun of me. Now, these places are fashionable.

What are your favorite spots in Paris and New York?
It would have to be places with a view. A really quiet one I love in Paris is Parc de Belleville because of the amazing view, and there are not a lot of people there. I’m always looking for green spaces. In the New York, the best part about the city is walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan over the Brooklyn or the Williamsburg Bridge. My special spots always include restaurants, but I have too many I love. For my vision, I need to look at beautiful things. I like things that are well thought-out and original. It’s about good urban planning.

Non-Parisians fall in love hard with Paris when they visit. Living there, do you ever find yourself taking it for granted?
The best way to enjoy Paris is to go back to Paris. When I’m away, I miss it. What I love about Paris is the fact that we have four real seasons. The seasons are never really extreme, it’s always mild. My resolution this year: Ne prends pas deux fois la même rue, or don’t go down the same street twice) and don’t go back to the same restaurant. It’s applicable in any city. There are always new places to discover, even at home.

You stay away from picking a winner in this feud. What was your goal with your book?
I wanted to have a double guide. If I miss both cities, because I’m somewhere else, I can look at this book and feel like I can travel in a day. It was made as if one day, I had a double life. I wanted to create bridges between the two cities. It was a way of saying that they are always competing with each other, but they are also feeding each other. What are the links between these two cities and why do they make people dream?

Where have you not been in New York yet?
I haven’t been to the Bronx, Inwood and East Harlem. I want to go to Red Hook too and some other places in Brooklyn.

What draws you to the city life?
The feeling in cities is always one of movement and energy that’s never ending. I love that. Both New York and Paris are winners. Going back and forth would be the perfect life, but I have to have a lot of money for that. I am not a real Parisian or New Yorker. I’m a just in-between.

Photo by Dominique Bry

Industry Insiders: Marlo Scott, Sweet Revenge

The story behind Marlo Scott’s quaint Carmine Street cupcake, wine, and beer bar is more saucy than sweet. Vowing to take her ‘sweet revenge’ on a former employer after being laid off, Scott opened her unlikely concept bar in the West Village, earning her clientele from the ground up. Scott moved to New York in ’99, first working as an investment banker to learn the business ropes and subsequently opening her first venue in ’08, a tough time for even well-known hospitality pros. But Scott defied the odds for small-business owners. Recently, she and Sweet Revenge were featured in a TV spot for Chase’s Ink cards for small business owners (also in print, radio, and online ads). The results have been staggering, amping up demand for Scott’s exceptional beverages and goodies, including Savory Cakes (we recommend The Seville). More on the satisfaction of Sweet Revenge after the jump.

On turning patrons into regulars: Patrons are greeted when they come in, and they’re listening to some pretty fantastic tunes. We have the sounds of vacation on the I-pod: a lot of reggae, bossa nova, and Latin influences. I offer eclectic imported beers and really beautiful imported wines, which I pair with my cupcakes, savory cakes and cookies. Once people try the pairings, they’re like, “Oh my god, this is delicious!” It’s the combination of the vibe, the ambiance, being treated with really good cheer, and having something that is not only beautiful, but tastes amazing. The devil is in the details. I focus on nailing all of the many facets in running my small business, so that the impression I leave for someone is long lasting and special. I try to make this place really different for patrons. I think folks feel that energy in here. It’s a good, happy place.

On the differences in her cupcake, beer, and wine bar: Most places offering baked goods are shops – ie cupcake stores and bakeries. We’re a beer and wine bar serving badass baked goods. I styled out Sweet Revenge to be inviting, with a world-inspiration that feels like a place in Europe because that attracts a diverse mix of patrons. We are not trying to be a ring-the-register transaction; we’re creating an experience at Sweet Revenge. Patrons have a different emotional connection with their fave local wine bar than they do with their neighborhood bakery. My hat is off to the more traditional places and their success. But for me, because I spend my life here and it’s my life’s savings in here, I want it to be a playful, sexy and indulgent escape that makes patrons feel happy, and they carry that happiness out the door and into the world.

Why cupcakes? Back in 2005, when I didn’t get my promotion and I swore sweet revenge on my then-employer, I lived two blocks away from Magnolia. I would stand in line and study the place from a business model standpoint. I started investigating cupcakes in general, and I saw that anything in the world of cupcakes got national media attention. Back in 2005, Billy’s was open, Buttercup was open, Sugar Sweet Sunshine was open—I was starting to see this trend. Cupcake couture was hitting the scene; fashion lines were putting cupcakes on apparel. Crate and Barrel came out with a 24-pack cupcake carrier. I got laid off in 2007, so I decided I would get into cupcakes as a smart business decision. You can get into the business with fewer resources if you’re keeping it really simple.

On the execution: Before I opened, I surrounded myself with experts. Having never worked in the industry, I knew that I wasn’t qualified to be making certain decisions. I hired a phenomenal consulting chef, Daniel Rosati, to take all of my recipes and menu, re-engineer them, and bring new ideas to the table. I worked with a brilliant restaurant consultant, Lisa Chodosh, who guided me through critical processes such as the optimal space layout for this particular configuration. I have leveraged everything I learned in my corporate experiences. I’m not a baker and never had intentions of going to culinary school. I hire trained and talented pastry cooks who understand the science behind baking to bring my ideas to life. When you’re starting and running a small business, you don’t know what’s going to come down the pike, but you go confidently knowing you’re going to figure it out. The best thing you can do is invest in smart resources.

On Chase commercial fame: One of my lovely daytime regulars is a planner for Chase’s creative agency. I didn’t know her since I bartend at night and our paths didn’t cross. Fortunately for me, she loves my cupcakes and my place. She had been on my website and knew my story. As a result, she put my name into the hat to do focus groups for Chase. They video interviewed me — it was a blind interview so I didn’t know the context. I talked with them about my life in small business. Several months went by and I got the call from the agency saying, “Congratulations, you’ve been chosen to be the face of Ink.” It has been a really surreal and incredible couple of months. Since the commercial launched in early July, I’ve enjoyed hearing from friends across the nation on Facebook saying, “I saw you on television.” Neighbors stop in saying, “We’re just so happy for you.” It’s one of those unbelievable opportunities that you know is going to change your life in the most amazing way. This incredible publicity will help my small business get a whole lot bigger, which I’m excited about. I’m very blessed. I’m grateful to the folks at Ink, Chase’s small business credit card portfolio, for giving me this opportunity.

Guilty pleasures (aside from cupcakes): I’ve treated myself to some manicures, which I didn’t do for three years after I got laid off. We’ve been hand-washing dishes for the last two years at Sweet Revenge, and I decided I’m finally buying a machine dishwasher.

On the day-to-day: You have to look at the bigger picture. You’ve got to keep forward-focused, knowing you’re on a good path, and not get too down about whatever the bumps are. When I opened in July 2008, it was a tough and steep learning curve. There were no patrons. I used to stand out on the sidewalk and give away my baked goods. 2009 started out pretty damn rough but then I had some awesome opportunities with Martha Stewart and Fox 5, got written up in Time Out New York and won the magazine’s Eat Out award. Even though I’m still very small sales-wise, I’m on a great trajectory. I focus on all the positivity. I’ve been in New York since ‘99; I don’t know where the hell the last eleven years have gone. It goes by so fast. You blink and five years are gone. I can’t believe I’m already two years into Sweet Revenge. That first year was hard, but the second year was so much better. And here I am now, very excited about what the future holds.

Future plans: I’m going to be on an episode of Unique Eats for the Cooking Channel. Millionaire Matchmaker filmed at Sweet Revenge, and I think that airs in October. We’re working on a brunch menu and a wedding cake line. Hopefully one day I’ll pitch a book deal that becomes a best seller, which leads to a successful Hollywood blockbuster, you know? Let’s put it out there and then it can happen.

Go-tos: One of my favorite places is Pastis. I really do love going there. I studied all of Keith McNally’s restaurants, and he’s just a genius. I’m very fond of Café Noir, and I love brunch at Felix. They have great vibes. They really nailed it in creating a sexy escape.

Striking Up Friendships

A working weekend kept me hot, bothered, and a little short on steam. But I was able to attend the Carrera Sunglasses party on the fabulous roof at 505 West 37th Street. The roof—some 40 stories over the Javits Center, train yards, and the Port Authority Bus complex—is so high that it made those places seem romantic. A pal asked me what that place across the Hudson River was, and I replied “America.” New York did seem far away from America this week, with the World Cup bringing so many accented tourists to the haunts I hang in. The Carrera event had a slew of downtown types who followed GoldBar honcho John Lennon and downtown PR flack Dana Dynamite uptown. I chatted up a very nice Whitney Port, who I was told is in that show The City. Watermelon, cold cans of Café Bustelo, and clear views of places I rarely want to see up close kept me happy for hours. I visited an apartment downstairs where they hid the swag, and I was told that the one bedroom with those views goes for $2200 a month. Almost cheap enough to forget the $15 cab fare to anyplace I’d like to be. Still, I think there will lots of fabulous events at this sweet spot.

An expensive yellow limo returned me to downtown where I belong, at the behest of Fuse Gallery/Lit bigwig Erik Foss. I attended the art opening The Hole Presents Not Quite Open for Business, “A conceptual group show of unfinished art, unfinished poems and unfinished symphonies.” When Jeffrey Deitch split to be the director of MOCA in L.A., it left the presenters confused as to what to do next. Some funding problems and an artist not quite ready to show was turned into a positive thing, as artists were asked to show their work in the stage it was in, a caught-with-your-pant-down approach to curating. The result is a fun, thought provoking, and unpretentious good time. I joined Erik Foss over at Lucky Strike and watched him have a snack. Erik is just back from Mexico City where he brought his Draw show. I hadn’t been to Lucky Strike in a long time. A friend of mine who used to work there was killed in his apartment many years ago, and it stirred up bad memories.

Mike “Seal” used to be my head of security over at Life, and his untimely death under mysterious circumstances made me wonder. When you go out to eat or play, you don’t necessarily need to be reminded of sad things. Lucky Strike wowed them back in 1989 when it first opened. Like all Keith McNally joints, it has an energizer bunny type of energy and the basic bones to last forever. The service, the staff, the design, and the fare are timeless and I felt good to be back. I still visit Pravda, Odeon, Pastis, and Balthazar from time to time, and his other entries Minetta Tavern, Morandi, and Schillers are magnificent machines. I am currently building in his old Nells space, trying to create something worthy of its lore. Pulino’s opened in my hood a little bit ago and although it wasn’t reviewed well by one prominent critic, the crowds have voted it a winner.

I will be DJing at the other Lucky Strike, the bowling alley and lounge on far West 42nd Street. The occasion is the birthday bash for Noel Ashman, who was at one point the operator of the Nells space when it was Plumm and NA. The invite reads “National Academy of Television, Arts and Scienes… Emmy Awards along with…” And it goes on to list Chris Noth, Patrick McMullan, Damon Dash, and a slew of others. Grandmaster Flash, Jamie Biden, Ethan Browne, and DJ Reach will join me on the wheels of steel. In the left corner is the logo for adult entertainment company Wicked. There’s hosts like Richie Romero, Brandon Marcel and Matt de Matt listed as well. Every time I write about Noel, a slew of haters come out of their holes and hovels to spew dirt. I am always asked why do I write about him. Noel has made a ton of omelets over the years and I guess in the process has broken his share of eggs. I personally have never had a bad experience with him and the naysayers are always of the suspicious variety. The diversity of the people on this invite and the crowds that will attend speak well of him. I am always asked why do I write about him. The answer is short and sweet. He’s my friend.

Gastro Gamechangers: Keith McNally’s Pulino Plans Go Public, Now Hiring

Keith McNally’s the celebrity and buzz-magnetized brain behind New York’s SoHo standby Balthazar, the center of gravity in the Meatpacking District, Pastis, the Lower East Side’s de facto cafeteria of the young and moneyed (Schiller’s), and The Hardest Table in Town of the moment, Minetta Tavern. Every opening of his is an event, and even when a restaurant of his doesn’t blow away the critics, it still packs ’em in nightly (see: Morandi). Problem is, they tend to be just out of the price range of New York’s young and hungry. Until now, or soon, as Pulino — McNally’s pizza place — is coming, and it’s coming downtown, to Bowery below Houston. Today, Pulino chef Nate Appleman twittered that he was hiring. Even better, NBC Local tossed Pulino’s plans on their website. What’s it (maybe) look like?

image

Per Matt Duckor at NBC:

One of the most prominent features highlighted in the plans is the massive, semi-circle bar adjacent to the kitchen, which should prove useful for neighborhood drop-ins. Other discoveries include: 1) The bathrooms are located in the cellar like they are at McNally’s nearby spot, Schiller’s, though they don’t appear to be unisex. 2) While the restaurant seems to sport a closed kitchen, the plan depicts a completely open pizza station, so crowds can potentially witness live, Appleman dough-tossing magic.

And Appleman dough-tossing magic we’ll await. Nate Appleman’s formerly of A16 in San Fransisco, who he left two months after winning his 2009 James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef. He’s only the second chef to open a McNally joint since Jodi Williams at Morandi who isn’t Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr, McNally’s kitchen lieutenants at all his other properties, (and we all know how Jodie’s tenure turned out: ugly). Needless to say, the anticipation’s been high, and this just upped it.

Industry Insiders: Stephen Attoe and Robert Caravaggi, Swift Decision Makers

When the ladies who lunched at Mortimer’s learned that their landmark of choice was closing, they swooned right into the waiting arms of two young Mortimer’s chefs who set out on their own and knew how to make their favorites perfectly. Just a few blocks downtown at Swifty’s, Robert Caravaggi and Stephen Attoe’s serve up everything from a mouth-watering childhood meatloaf at $25 a slice, to a soufflé so light it levitates. The foodie mecca is named after a dog rescued by the teams former boss, Mortimer’s owner Glenn Birnbaum.

Describe a day in your job. Robert Caravaggi: I’m the front of the house and he’s the back of the house guy. We collaborate on everything, whatever we do, whatever policies we have, we always collaborate. We’re the John and Paul of the restaurant business.

You two worked at Mortimer’s forever. Stephen Attoe: I worked there from 1982 until they closed. RC: I was there in 1981, and the story’s the same.

And how did you make the move to Swifty’s? RC: We were at Mortimer’s for a long, long time. When it closed after Glenn Birnbaum unexpectedly passed away, the customers panicked, and we said, ‘We’re going to open something,’ and opened Swifty’s on October 1, 1999. We were trying to be the anti-Mortimer’s, because they always had a reputation of being rude and snotty, so we tried to be exactly the opposite. We greet our customers personally; we’re courteous to them, always. Courtesy is just good manners.

How did you get your start? RC: My family was in the restaurant business. My father owned a few like Quo Vadis in London, so while I went to school, I did everything there. It was a four star restaurant with classic cuisine. I had that traditional background like Stephen, with a lot of experience in French and Italian. Mortimer’s was different and at a certain point, Glen Birnbaum brought me from Quo Vadis, where I started as a bar boy. Stephen and I met at Mortimer’s and worked together for years. It’s been quite an adventure. SA: I was born in England and went to culinary school at 15 at Westminster Culinary School. I finished my apprenticeship at the Connaught Hotel, and from there I came here and traveled a bit. My wife and I had the Four in Hand Country Inn for a couple of years in Vermont. When we sold it, I accepted the chef’s job at Mortimer’s.

Where are your go-to places? SA: I don’t go out; I work. But I sometimes go to Mezzaluna for good pasta and pizza. Via Quadronno is on 73rd just off Madison and the light there is great in the afternoon, between lunch and dinner. RC: I love Japanese food, so I like Nobu 57. I have a good friend who owns Cellini on 54th Street, and in this neighborhood when I run out of work, late, for comfort food to T Bar. They have a modern steak house and it’s right around the corner. I also like The Palm. Stephen and I know the Executive Chef, Neal Myers, very well.

Who do you look up to? RC: I admire Keith McNally for Pastis and his restaurants in general, they’re very authentic. I knew Jean Georges when he was working at Le Regence at Plaza Athénée. He’s quite impressive and what I admire about him especially is that you’ll also find him behind the line in his various establishments. He’s somebody you can look up to. He keeps his chops like all great chefs. When they stop doing that, they lose touch with the core of this business.

What’s the core of your business? SA: The core is the kitchen, but Robert and I are here all the time and we keep in touch with the staff, the customers, and we’re very connected with both groups of people; we’re not married to each other, but we’re married to the business. RC: Were considering expansion and the thing we fear most is being separated from our flagship for too long and how that would affect our customers, the service and everything that goes on? I’d love to know how those guys with lots of restaurants hold their standards.

Anything that annoys you? SA: The way the city government is meddling in small businesses and the way they handle them is negative. Small business is an open wallet for the government, penalizing them for petty violations that are often questionable — from trash pick-up to health violations to fire marshal inspections. They’re all designed to raise capital for the government. It puts pressure on every business. The LLC license, liquor license, all of that can be streamlined. The grading system is fine, there should be a guide to health, but the government is increasing inspections to twice a year which is just another tax-small-businesses reason to go to the well so often before businesses start to fail. RC: They put a lot of pressure on you, but that’s New York, so you’ve got to have thick skin.

Something that people don’t know about you? RC: I’m also a musician. I write pop songs, but I used to have a rock band in the ’80s. It was a hobby, but a fun one. SA: I’m a gardener, a hunter and a marathoner.

Where Celebs Go Out: Marc Jacobs, Amanda Lepore, Adrian Grenier, Emma Snowdon-Jones

At David Barton Gym annual toy drive: ● MARC JACOBS – “In Paris, there’s a small club called Montana, and there’s a restaurant called Thiou. Bars I really don’t hang out in. Oh, there’s this great club that happens once a month in Paris called Club Sandwich. And it’s at the Espace Cardin. And everyone gets super dressed-up, so it’s really, really fun. I try to go whenever I’m in Paris, if it’s going on. And we stay out all night and just dance like crazy. And in New York, my favorite restaurants have always been the same. I love to eat at Pastis. I love the Standard. I love Da Silvano. I eat in the lobby of the Mercer a lot, the hotel. I usually go to Pastis for lunch, and there’s a sandwich that was on the menu, but they don’t make it anymore, but I always insist that they make it for me. And it’s really fattening, so I shouldn’t eat it, but it’s chicken paillard and gruyere cheese and bacon. And it’s so delicious. It’s really good. And it’s my weakness. It’s just like the most perfect sandwich.”

● DAVID BARTON – “Oh, I can’t think where I like to hang out in Seattle except my new gym! There’s a great place that just opened up in New York, up on 51st, called the East Side Social Club. Patrick McMullan is one of the partners there. He’s co-hosting with me tonight. Great place; really cool. It’s very old world, kind of like going to Elaine’s, kind of little cozy; sit at a booth; very cool. Love a little place called Il Bagatto, over on 7th between A & B — little tiny Italian place, East Village, kind of a neighborhood place that I go to. What else? I don’t know restaurants. I’m very casual. I’m so not that into food. I mean, I could eat cardboard — I’m just not into food! I like people. I like atmosphere, but I’m just not that into food.” ● AMANDA LEPORE – “I definitely like Bowery Bar and I like Hiro. Boom Boom Room. Just anywhere where everybody is, I guess! [laughs] Novita, I like, my friend Giuseppe. Any favorite dishes? I try not to eat too much! ● PATRICK MCDONALD – “My favorite restaurant in New York is Indochine. It’s been around for 25 years. Jean-Marc, I adore. I love the bar at the Carlyle. I don’t drink, but I like to go there for tea in the afternoon. And I love Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon on Gramercy Park. I love Pastis, Odeon, and everywhere. I like the French fries at Pastis.” ● PATRICK MCMULLAN – “I love going to Waverly Inn downtown. Boom Boom Room is fabulous. That’s really a new, great place. SL, on 409 W. 14th Street, down below is nice. Of course, I have the East Side Social Club that I’m involved with, and that’s great for hanging out in, for eating. Favorite dishes anywhere? Oh, I don’t know, just anything that people recommend. I usually go with what people recommend ’cause most people know what’s good — the waiters know, so I think that’s the best thing. Red wine is good to have to drink sometimes. They have a drink called the Eastsider at the East Side Social Club that’s really good; any of their pastas; their ravioli is great there. What else do I like? That new place that’s open, the English place, on 60th in the Pierre — Le Caprice, that’s a nice place. At the Waverly Inn, I like the macaroni and cheese. It was funny because the macaroni and cheese is about two dollars less than a room at the Pod Hotel, which is where the East Side Social Club is! The Monkey Bar is fun. There are so many cool places in New York. I just go where people tell me to go.”

At elf party for Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe:

● JENNY MCCARTHY – “In Chicago, I would have to say Gibsons Steakhouse still; in Los Angeles, Katsuya, still love that sushi; I’m addicted to it. And in New York, Koi. I’m very trendy and boring, but, hey, that’s where the good food is, so …” ● PERI GILPIN – “In L.A., we like BLT a lot. We have five-year-old twins, so we’re like in bed by nine o’clock — pretty boring. Corner Bakery for soup.” ● CANDACE CAMERON BURE – “L.A., hands down, our favorite restaurant is Gjelina, which is in Venice. And we love Craft; love Michael’s in Santa Monica. Here, in New York, my favorite restaurant is Lupa, which is a Mario Batali restaurant; love it here. And I don’t go to clubs anymore, nightclubs; I don’t ever! At Gjelina, they have a burrata with prosciutto and, usually, a warm pear or a warm peach. I love that! I really love tapas. I enjoy getting a lot of appetizers, more than just a main dish. We, actually, have had our own wine label, Bure Family Wines, for two years, which is at several restaurants, so matching the food and the wine is a big part for us. We’re big foodies” ● DEAN MCDERMOTT – “There is a great bar, Ye Coach & Horses in L.A., on Sunset. I’m so bad at this stuff! Oh, Katsuya, in the Valley, awesome sushi. It’s our favorite place. We go there like three times a week.” ● KEN BAUMANN – “In New York, my favorite restaurant is Il Cortile. It’s in Little Italy, and it’s run by this guy named Stefano, and it’s incredible, phenomenal food. In Los Angeles, my favorite restaurant’s gotta be Cut, which is in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.” ● SHAILENE WOODLEY – “Honestly, I’m not really a club kinda girl. I’d rather go to a local bar with some friends and hang out there. Or just go back to my house and have people come over. I’m more of the congregate-at-my-house kind of chick. I’m 18, so I don’t drink, so I don’t go to bars. There’s a place called the Alamo, which has karaoke and it’s a bar, but we go and karaoke there probably once a week.” ● FRANCIA RAISA – “I’m not a big club person. I really like bars and lounges. In L.A., I like to hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings, watching sports and drinking beer with my friends. I really don’t go out that much. I hang out at home and have my own glass of wine, watching Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, I just tried this restaurant yesterday at Gramercy Park Hotel. It’s a new, Italian place — Maialino. It was amazing. And again, I’m very simple, so I like pizza, and John’s Pizza out here is amazing to me, too. And hot wings I like at Planet Hollywood. I’m obsessed with them!”

At Zeno “Hot Spot” launch party @ MTV Studios:

● SKY NELLOR – “I am a huge sushi fanatic, so I just had Katsuya three times in two days in L.A. What is it about Katsuya? It’s the baked-crab hand roll in a soy-paper wrap. It’s just so yummy. I want one now! In New York, I have a fixation with Bagatelle. I just love the fish and the veggies. Nightclubs, nightlife, oh, my God! Apparently, I’m a really good bowler, so I hang out at Lucky Strike everywhere — Miami, L.A., Kansas! We just had a bowling party, and I won, so … Oh, they didn’t let me see my score. I just kept getting strikes to the point where they were, like, ‘Give her more shots! We have to stop this girl!’ And the drunker I got, the better I got. Clubs — if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out to dance. And I’m going to go where the DJ is playing. I don’t care what club it is. I went to a dive in L.A., at a party called Afex, just because some of the best DJs were playing that night. Like, I don’t care about the crowd. I don’t care about the scene. I care about the music. I don’t think the venue has a name. I think it’s called No Space. They just move the party around.” ● SUCHIN PAK – “I have a great place. It’s called Broadway East, and it’s on East Broadway. And I love it because it’s a beautiful space, but also it’s literally across the street from my house. That always helps. And then there’s a really fantastic place called Bacaro. Oh, it’s amazing! It’s downstairs. It’s almost a dungeon-like place. The people that used to do Peasant, the wine bar there, moved to this place. I like to say the Lower East Side on East Broadway is where the grown-up hipsters go. For a true Lower East Sider, it may not be true Lower East Side, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved more south than east, and I keep trickling that way.”

At charity:ball for charity:water:

● ADRIAN GRENIER – “Brooklyn. Fort Greene. Habana Outpost — it’s run mostly on solar power, and it’s a sustainable business.” MARK BIRNBAUM “Well, if I do say so myself, Abe & Arthur’s on 14th Street; SL, the new club underneath it. I still love Tenjune. And I like hanging out at home other than that. What about places other than your own? So I shouldn’t say the Chandelier Room, in Hoboken? I really like going to Bar and Books in the West Village — that’s our spot. You know where else I like to go? Miami — the new W South Beach is unbelievable, by far the best hotel down there. The design is incredible; the pool area is very nice; they have good restaurants there — there’s a Mr. Chow’s and the other one is good; the rooms are really nice; it’s very well done; it’s just very fresh, the entire thing; and the artwork is incredible. You don’t feel like you’re in South Beach — not that there’s anything wrong with it — but it’s really, really, really, well done.” ● NICOLE TRUNFIO – “I just found this really cool jazz club in Paris where they still dance to old, rock-and-roll music in partners. It’s a location undisclosed. I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s in the Saint-Michel — it’s just off it. You can jump into a taxi, ‘cause we went to a jazz bar called the Library, but that was closed. So we asked the taxi driver, and he took us to this place. So, I’m sure lots of local French taxi-drivers would know the place.” ● LAUREN BUSH – “Oh, gosh, I’m like so uncool! It’s such an obvious question, it’s so hard … I’m a vegetarian, so I love Blossom restaurant. They have a good, quinoa-tofu dish. It’s like gingery. It’s really good. ● EMMA SNOWDON-JONES – “I love Le Bilboquet because it’s consistent, and mainly wherever your friends are it makes the place. It’s on 63rd, between Park and Madison. I’ve gone there since I was in boarding school. I’d come into the city on the weekends, and I’d go there. I think anyone that’s been in New York as long as I have knows it. That’s a really, bloody long time, sadly. As good as my Botox is, it’s too long!” ● KRISTIN CHENOWETH – “I am an old-fashioned girl, and I still love Joe Allen’s. I go there all the time. And right next-door above, is a place called Bar Centrale, and I go there, too. I was just there last night for three hours. I like the manicotti at Joe Allen’s. It’s excellent!” ● JULIAN LENNON – “Probably the Jane bar and the Rose Bar in New York.”

At launch of S.T. Dupont in-store boutique @ Davidoff on Madison Avenue:

● RON WHITE – “I love the bars in Glasgow, Scotland. You could go sit in a bar by yourself and in five minutes, you’d be talkin’ to 10 people because they’re so curious about anybody that walks in that’s not normally in there. They just want to go talk to ’em and find out what they’re about. They’re just as friendly as they can be. I was there for the British Open, or the Open Championship, as it’s called. And if you go to a bar in New York City, you can sit there for the rest of your life and not meet another person because they’re not really gonna come up to you and go, ‘Hey, what’s up? What are you doing in town?’ That just doesn’t happen here.”

Industry Insiders: Roberto Vuotto, Hookah Master

After a five year stint owning the Chelsea restaurant Naima , Roberto Vuotto is reintroducing himself as General Manager of the brand spanking new triple threat, Veranda. The bi-level West Village space is a restaurant, discothèque and hookah lounge all rolled into one, and Vuotto, a Capri native who came to New York as a busboy over 10 years ago, has the substantial task of making it all run smoothly. With his latest endeavor, Vuotto hopes to keep the hookahs lit and the music thumping for the next five years, and the five after that too.

Describe your job as General Manager of Veranda. I coordinate a lot of things — from the opening of the kitchen to the lounge. We have a hookah lounge, so this is my first experience dealing with that. We have two rooms, which right now are opened as part of the lounge. Very soon one of the rooms will be opening as the restaurant.

What kind of food will Veranda serve? It’s going to be Contemporary/Mediterranean cuisine with accent on Middle Eastern. We hope to secure the chef to the Saudi Arabian royal family. Because this neighborhood is really demanding we want to make sure that the kitchen is perfect and ready. When you start doing fusion, it’s difficult to makes sure everything is executed properly. We want to feature simple dishes that are done well. There are going to be a lot of seats and in the summer there are an additional 126 seats outside. So, it’s best to keep it simple due to the high volumes.

After owning Naima, why the switch to management level? In these economic times, owning a place is a huge amount of responsibility in terms of making everything square at the end of the month. It was a good run and we had a lot of fun. We didn’t do as much business as we hoped and it wasn’t worth it for me for the amount of work that I was doing. Thankfully, I was able to sell Naima, and at the same time I had this offer from Mino Habib who I worked with for ten years at Le Souk and Max in the East Village.We started working on the same block on West 27th street when he was managing Suzie Wong and I owned Naima. He mentioned to me that he was about to open a big place and I was ready to sell, so it was perfect timing. I really wanted that challenge of something new and bigger.

Who in the business inspires you? Keith McNally. I had a chance to go to his first place before I was even living in New York. He started with a nightclub, which was what I did in Capri, Italy. Then he went on to open Balthazar and Pastis, etc. so, I admire how he set up his operations and marketing.

How did you end up in New York? I worked in the club business in Capri for many years and I had clients from New York. I had a lot of friends living here and I would come once a year. Eventually I was offered a job in a restaurant so I decided to stay.

What positive trends did you see occurring in the NYC lounge/restaurant business over the past year? With the economy the way it is, rents have gone down so there is more of a chance for people to open without having a huge amount of expenses and people are able to find a space they can afford. I’ve been seeing many new lounges and clubs opening recently. When I opened Naima, it was impossible to find a storefront in Chelsea. Now if you walk around, you see much more available.

Negative trends? Lounges and restaurants make a lot of revenue from corporate clients, but that’s not happening anymore because the first thing companies cut is the entertainment and dining. That’s what happened at Naima.

What do you hope that Veranda will bring to NYC nightlife and the neighborhood? I hope to bring something new, which is a culmination of a restaurant with a hookah lounge but very upscale, offering bottle service. In this neighborhood there isn’t a place where you can have dinner and then walk down a hallway and dance to electronic Middle Eastern music. We’ll bring an exotic element to the neighborhood, not only in dining but also in late night as well. Where you go in New York there is always the same music so this will be something new and more particular.

Go-to spots? When it comes to Italian food I’m very picky. My favorite restaurant is La Masseria. It’s a very classic Italian place in Midtown. I go out to 1Oak on Sundays, and I also go to Griffin and The Gates. Another place that I love is Onda down at the Seaport.