Occupation: Serial entrepreneur. McDonald is the publisher of City magazine, creator of E*BOOST Energy Drink, and the man behind hit restaurants like Lever House, Lure Fishbar, Chinatown Brasserie, Brasserie 44, and MercBar, which is celebrating its 20th year this fall.
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
I just read the biography of John Jacob Astor and would have to put him at the top of the list. First of all, the guy lived to be older than 85, which in the 1700s was amazing — and he was the first true Manhattan real-estate developer. Not to mention his wealth by comparison easily dwarfed that of today’s billionaires. The man had his own railroad car that could take him anywhere as well … he would have had a Global Express today for sure.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
High end it would be Jean-Georges, who I think understands how people want to eat better than anyone today. Or, much less fancy, Peter Luger’s steak for two: rare, slab bacon, tomatoes/onions, and bottle of Bordeaux.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? I would say I am like a firefighter — walking around looking for small fires before they become raging infernos, and hopefully putting them out.
Would you still live here on a $35,000 salary?
Today, probably not. But when you are young and move here it’s worth it to do whatever it takes to just be present. If you are not in the mix, you stand no chance. I know so many people who overcame everything to succeed.
What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
It has been ages, but maybe Phantom of the Opera. I don’t have the patience usually to sit still that long.
Do you give money to panhandlers?
There are a few that I have seen for over a decade and instead of money, I feed them whatever they want.
What’s your drink?
Margarita on the rocks with salt. Or super ice-cold beer, no glass.
How often do you prepare your own meals?
Maybe once a month now. I am never home.
What’s your favorite medication?
What’s hanging above your sofa?
How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
In my case, I shave my head myself, so even a dollar is too much — and I never have to wait.
2 a.m. I would say in the twenty years living in NYC that I maybe have gone to sleep before midnight only 5 percent of those nights.
Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
The new. I don’t mind the evolution, and I don’t believe in crying about change.
What do you think of Donald Trump?
You can’t debate the guy is a fierce competitor who is obsessed with winning and has proven in many instances that he can win big. I understand that he works as hard today as he did when he was a young guy, which is admirable given his wealth and ability to coast. Are his lobbies my style? Not quite.
What do you hate most about living in New York?
Parking tickets and high taxes.
Who is your mortal enemy?
When’s the last time you drove a car?
Who should be the next president?
Bloomberg. The career politicians have had their chance, so let’s put a guy in place that is 100 percent self-made and can cut through the mess.
Times, Post, or Daily News?
Post, and maybe after, the Times, but always NYP.
Where do you go to be alone?
I can conceptually be alone just about anywhere by blocking out everything. But generally just at home, or sometimes on the roof of my office in the morning when the sun rises.
What makes someone a New Yorker?
Attitude and energy, and a desire to be great at what you do.