Food

Keith McNally Just Un-Banned James Corden From His Schmancy New York Restaurant. What a Wimp!

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12: James Corden attends the FYC event for CBS' "The Late Late Show With James Corden" at NeueHouse Los Angeles on May 12, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
James Corden in May. Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

On Monday, New York restaurateur Keith McNally—he of Odeon, Minetta Tavern, Pastis, Lucky Strike, and many other restaurants I have never been fancy enough to eat at—laid down the law in an Instagram post: Comedian and Late Late Show host James Corden was no longer welcome at McNally’s SoHo restaurant Balthazar. As reported by Twitter’s Chief Keith McNally Correspondent, writer Jason Diamond:

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

In the Instagram post, McNally told stories about two recent Corden visits to Balthazar: one in June, in which the comedian, upon finding a hair in his meal, was “extremely nasty” to a manager, and one in October, in which Corden’s wife was dissatisfied with her egg-yolk omelette, which included trace amounts of egg white, and Corden screamed at his server. “I don’t often 86 a customer,” McNally wrote, but he was 86-ing Corden, “the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago.”

This raised a lot of questions. The most abusive customer at a celebrity restaurant? In 25 years? Wouldn’t an egg-yolk omelette, whatever that was, taste better with some egg white in it? It didn’t take long before the story was everywhere.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Well! Keith McNally has had his problems, including, you know, loudly defending Woody Allen and Ghislaine Maxwell. But just as when he banned former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter for frequently no-showing after demanding reservations at peak times, this seemed to be the rare case of a guy rich enough not to give a single fuck using that power for good. James Corden was a gigantic asshole to his staff, and he banned him. Sure, he felt the need to caveat that he was aware that the “tiny Cretin” was, nonetheless, a “hugely gifted comedian”—rich people must always acknowledge that even the jerkiest rich jerks are great at what they do, which they must be, because otherwise how would they have gotten rich?!—but nonetheless, good one, Keith McNally. I can imagine his staff at Balthazar exchanging texts like, Hey, that doofus stood up for us.

Advertisement

Surprise! He did not. Less than eight hours later, McNally returned to Instagram to announce that the ban was over.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

James Corden had called him to apologize, McNally said. “Anyone magnanimous enough to apologize to a deadbeat layabout like me (and my staff) doesn’t deserve to be banned from anywhere,” he wrote. “All is forgiven.”

This, obviously, is baloney. What a wimp Keith McNally was! I’m sure it’s very reassuring to his Balthazar staff that a famous person can treat them all like shit, but as long as he can get Keith McNally’s phone number and feign remorse, he can come back to the restaurant whenever he wants. I’m sure that the manager who had to deal with Corden twice, or the server Corden yelled at who nonetheless had to apologize and finish her shift, feels great that Corden was so magnanimous to their boss.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

I have no doubt that a thousand wealthy people are terrible to Keith McNally’s employees every year, and few are ever 86’d, or even rebuked. But just this once McNally made a big public show about shaming and banning a jerk. He got to look like a decent guy. He got a bunch of free publicity from it. And then he backed down as soon as he could, and let the jerk power-wash his sullied reputation in the process. If McNally really had guts, he’d stand his ground. He’d tape a big photo of Corden to the host stand forevermore, reading DO NOT SEAT THIS GUY. Maybe the next James Corden would think twice before complaining about his wife’s egg-yolk omelette.

Advertisement