Graydon Carter Now A Restaurant Mogul, Too

New York hotspot The Waverly Inn has perfected the art of buzz: It’s still not officially open after two years of running full blast and packing its central dining room with celebrities. No surprise, therefore, that it’s owned by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who has quietly launched a side career in the restaurant business.

(And who can blame him? Vanity Fair‘s ad pages were down nearly 9 per cent the first half of this year.)

New York Times: [Graydon Carter’s] second career, which seemed like a lark, now looks more serious. Last week, he and two partners bought the Monkey Bar from the Glazier Group, which had struggled to make a go of the place for the past few years. The Glazier family has been in the restaurant business in New York for about 25 years; Mr. Carter started operating the Waverly Inn less than two years ago.

Hearing of the Monkey Bar deal, the restaurateur Keith McNally, who has run his fair share of hot restaurants, gave a nod to Mr. Carter’s rise: “I think Graydon’s done an outstanding job,” he said, “at paving the way for more restaurateurs to edit magazines.”

There are still powerful folk who would rather dine uptown at the Four Seasons, Michael’s or Le Cirque. But for celebrity power deep enough to lure paparazzi night after night, few outposts in New York today rival the Waverly Inn.

So who does Graydon want you to know eats there not just once but regularly?

Ronald O. Perelman, the billionaire; Barry Diller, the media mogul; two dozen neighbours who live within a radius of two blocks; Robert De Niro and Gwyneth Paltrow, the actors; Mr. Carter’s next-door neighbours, the fashion designers Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, often together; and a sprinkling of writers and editors from the Condé Nast empire.

And while Mr. Varda insists the restaurant is too small to keep empty tables available, there always seems to be space for regulars, especially regulars of a certain heft. The film producer Harvey Weinstein, for example, lives nearby and, according to Mr. Varda, frequently arrives for dinner without calling ahead to reserve. “He is family,” Mr. Varda said, “so we make room anyway.”

How do you land a table between Ron Perelman and Harvey Weinstein?

Insiders just call Mr. Carter’s office directly but it is in fact possible to drop by the reservations desk at the restaurant and book a table for those netherworld hours before 6:30 or after 11:15 p.m., and on weekends from June through August. (The desk takes reservations for dinner, the only time the restaurant is open, just three days ahead.)

Who does the restaurant bar at the door? Hedge fund managers (don’t try calling from Connecticut), reality TV stars and b-list celebs who will alert the paparazzi to their presence in the restaurant, which means Graydon Carter may have created the one place Hills stars Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag won’t show up. And for that reason, perhaps he should extend his culinary empire into LA. After all, it will give him a place to host Vanity Fair’s Oscar party now that Craft is out.


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