Earlier this week we linked to a Daily News item claiming Padma Lakshmi rudely refused complimentary dishes from Fiamma’s chef. A commenter wrote, “I was at Fiamma the night Padma was dining there and it absolutely did NOT go down that way. When the dishes arrived at the table, she thanked them profusely and apologized for being too full to eat any of them!” Whatever happened, Padma was just one of many celebs to chow down (or at least show up) at local restaurants this week, and here’s our gossip-column compendium of just who went where.
Every Friday a notable New Yorker tells us where they’ve been eating, but where are the rest of them chowing down? Starting this week we’ll sort through the gossip columns à la Ils Vont (RIP) to tell you who’s been seen where (casual sightings only — boring galas, vodka launches, and pluggy appearances don’t count). We’ll eventually compile a ranking of restaurants most often visited by celebs. Not that you care about that sort of thing! Oh, but if you do, won’t you please leave your own sightings in the comments?
Considering they blew $2 million on the place, we assumed the proprietors of the Box had the building all to themselves, but apparently even the hottest club in the city can’t afford to live without a roommate. To that end, if you want a nice quiet workspace right above the S&M shows, it can be yours for a little over $115,000 per month year. According to the broker’s listing, “all uses [will be] considered”— so feel free to set up a fake VIP room and convince eager cover-payers they’re actually inside of the Box. After all, remember Noel Ashman’s “Upstairs at Studio 54”?
Walker Malloy [Official site]
We thought the Box lost its remaining counterculture cred when the Times, of all things, called it out on being pretty much any other club. Not so! The real point of no return came last night when it appeared, in the guise of club Victrola, on teenybopper drama du jour Gossip Girl. The place must’ve loosened its rules against interior photography, because the first scene has Chuck Bass (a son every bit as wayward as Simon Hammerstein) explaining why his father should support him by investing in the burlesque club: “No judgments. Pure escape. What happens at Victrola stays at Victrola” (until the Health Department shows up, anyway).
Former Men's Fitness editor and Jann Wenner paramour Neal Boulton calls up "Page Six" to tell them that he is getting harassed for being "too straight." Harvey Weinstein said he uses Vogue and Anna Wintour to help style his films. The Box is about to implement a security system designed by Safir Rosetti, which is run by former police commissioner Howard Safir. 50 Cent may perform at Times Square on New Year's Eve. Salman Rushdie dressed up as Darth Vader on Halloween and had to fend off chicks with his light saber. Fox News correspondent Chris Wallace complained that only 39 American soldiers died in Iraq in October 2007, the fewest deaths in a month since 2004.
We have to hand it to the Post and the Daily News. They've treated the story of the serial rapist who preys outside of the trendy Box nightclub with relative sincerity. Not even a "BEHIND THE VELVET RAPES" headline. It's probably because this is the intersection of the two kinds of stories the tabloids do best: serious, grim-faced crime reporting, and salacious celebrity fixation. It turns out that a man posing as a livery driver abducted and sexually assaulted two women (one in September and one on Friday) from in front of the club at 3 a.m., while partygoers stumbled in and out. The club is popular with celebrities, who perform on its tiny stage and line its cozy banquettes nearly every night. In both cases the stalker stole money using the women's ATM cards, raped them, and then dumped them in an outer borough. Luckily, both women gave descriptions of the man and there were witnesses who saw the cars he was driving, so police have several leads.*
Hunt on for Lower E. Side Club Rapist [NYDN]
Fiend Rapes 2 Club Gals [NYP]
*If the tabs aren't going to crack a joke, we aren't touching it with a ten-foot pole.
Cuozzo fantasizes about the possible successes Jeffrey Chodorow could develop if he signs a lease on the enormous space at Broadway and 63rd Street. They include stellar risotto, traditional dim sum, and haute Lebanese — if only he doesn’t “blow it on another howler like Rocco’s or a limping dud like Kobe Club.” [NYP]
A Queens dumpling celebrity, a chef in northern China before transplanting to the U.S., has been persuaded to supply her specialty to TKettle on St. Marks Place. Get there early, though; she’s only agreed to hand-make 1,000 per day for the bubble-tea shop. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Two young female patrons of the Box have been abducted from outside the club and raped on separate occasions in less than a month, and the predator has not been apprehended. [NYP]
David Boies, Al Gore's lawyer in his recount battle against Bush in 2000, may have taken on Blackwater CEO Erik Prince as a client. The 2008 Zagat's says that the Waverly Inn is owned by "Grayson Carter." Deepak Chopra likes telling bad jokes about the president. A random crowd outside the French Institute was invited to watch a screening of Tina Fey'sBaby Mama and enjoyed it. Vince Vaughn hung out at the Rose Bar and the Box on Saturday. Mariah Carey promoted her new perfume at Macy's Herald Square. Fox Business Network is throwing a launch party tonight at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
We still don’t know what was behind the August 24 shutdown of the Box. Was it partner-or-is-he-just-a-consultant Cordell Lochin going to trial for his involvement in a weed-dealing ring? (“Page Six”’s initial account of patrons being searched for drugs has been called into question.) Or was it the health inspection? That night’s evaluation yielded violations totaling a whopping 168 out of 175 points the most out of all 23,126 restaurants in the Department of Health’s online database. Let’s put this in perspective, shall we? The infamous KFC–Taco Bell on Sixth Avenue received 62 points less. One of the violations: “Sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.” Or were the toilets just backed up from dubious flushing?
Related:Restaurant Inspection Information: The Box [DOH]
Earlier:Serge Becker: Drug-Dealing “Consultant” Is Not a Co-Owner of the Box, La Esquina [NYM]
Guest of a Guest broke the story yesterday that Cordell Lochin thought be a partner in Serge Becker’s joints La Esquina, 205, and the Box will be sentenced on October 10 for importing more than 100 kilos of weed and dealing it in New York in 2004 and 2005. There’s been speculation that the August 24 raid of the Box and La Esquina was related to this, and we’ve heard rumors that Cordell was recently arrested again but the Box’s publicist, Nadine Johnson, tells us neither of these things are correct (a check with NYPD turned up no recent arrests). She also describes Cordell as a consultant and not a partner in the Box, as reported in a recent Observer profile and other places: “We had taken the decision to call him a partner, but he isn’t a real partner or employee for the Box or La Esquina.” Serge Becker did not know about Cordell’s past until ten days ago, when his case went to trial, Johnson says. She also issued an emphatic statement to Grub Street on behalf of Becker further disavowing Cordell’s ownership stake.
La Esquina’s basement and the Box are open again, but Serge Becker’s woes may not be over. Alberto Armendarig, a reporter for Mexican newspaper La Reforma tells us that last Saturday at 205 (another joint Becker has his stamp on), he was choked by a bouncer and bodily ejected from the club in such a way that he tried to press assault charges (cops didn’t find any marks on him and told him to brush it off and call it a night). Sounds like any other Saturday to us, but Armendarig says he’s now on a quest to close the club down. As it turns out, he may not have to lift a finger.
205 to be Eighty-Sixed?
If you’re one of the many who saw Rob Zombie’sHalloween during its record-setting opening weekend, you last saw Kristina Klebe playing trash-talking cheerleader Lynda. You’ll probably next see her alongside Uma Thurman in Griffin Dunne’s comedy The Accidental Husband, in which she plays Isabelle Rossellini’s (fully dressed and much more conservative) daughter. In the meantime, she’s jetting between her hometown, New York (she used to bartend at Serafina), and her adopted city, L.A. “I love that I can walk back to a place after dinner,” she says of New York. “If you go out in L.A., you’re full and you just go out to your car and go home.” So where did she dine and dash during this week of auditions and director meetings?
Richard Branson was late to his own party at the Box for Virgin America Airlines' inaugural flight from LAX to JFK. He blamed, no joke, flight delays. Daily Intel caught up with him and asked about the now-famous incident when he angrily splashed Stephen Colbert with a glass of water during a taping of the Colbert Report. Turns out all is forgiven. He and Virgin America CEO Fred Reid also have plans for hotels in space and fond memories of the time Branson threatened to throw Janet Jackson off a hot-air balloon. It's all after the jump.
Some Lower East Siders are trying to get the Box closed because it's more a nightclub and less the "cultural institution" its owners promised it would be. (And also, we presume, because it's utterly insufferable.) At the age of 50, Kelly Klein, ex of Calvin, is finally having a baby. Hillary Clinton raised $500,000 at a fund-raiser at Ted Danson's house on Martha's Vineyard. The beach is eroding in front of Tina Brown and Harry Evans's place in Quogue. John McEnroe is in talks with Larry Ellison to establish a tennis training center in Flushing Meadows. Andy Roddick had stage fright when asked to say a few words at a party in his honor at Tenjune. A bunch of guests got lost en route to Donna Karan's house in East Hampton. Tom Petty played two gigs in the Hamptons for $1.7 million. (Paul McCartney and Renée Zellweger were there.) Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning looked for the entrance to La Esquina.
Jeffrey Chodorow and Ouest chef Tom Valenti may both open restaurants in the boutique hotel On the Ave at Broadway near 76th Street. [NYP]
Has Gordon Ramsay spread himself too thin? Harden’s annual guide has dethroned Ramsey’s eponymous flagship as its pick for highest overall rating in food, service and ambience. [The Guardian]
Lower East Side neighbors were duped by the Box they believed it was to be a “cultural institution.” Well, sort of depends on your definition of “culture.” [NYDN]
Chelsea: Patricia Yeo is out at Sapa. [Eater]
Lower East Side: Turns out La Esquina’s basement is illegal! [NYP]
Midtown West: Get your Charlie Murphy fix at El Centro; it’s his favorite Mexican restaurant. [Gridskipper]
Soho: Former 66 chef Josh Eden has taken over the kitchen at Goblin Market. [Strong Buzz]
Upper West Side: Yogurt Wars update: Pinkberry takes over Excel Fine Art’s space on Columbus Avenue. [Eat for Victory/VV]
West Village: Something's fishy about the seafood sister restaurant to the Spotted Pig: Diners at the original heard staff chatting about the location opening soon as the 10 Spot. [Down by the Hipster]
When we last heard about the Box, owner Simon Hammerstein was telling a whistle-blowing auditioner that his patrons are “narcissistic and highly intoxicated. They don’t listen to words.” We can only assume, then, that the cops used sign language when they raided the place on Sunday morning and shut it down after searching random narcissists for drugs (Jay-Z and Cameron Diaz got away safe, perhaps by using the controversial Freeman Alley exit). What kind of substances would be consumed at a place that Hammerstein has insisted is not a nightclub? (A Box rep told "Page Six" the raid was due to a clerical error.) Well, the last time we were there, MC Raven O was doing a rendition of “Cocaine” and dumping white powder all over everyone. So, yeah, there’s that.
Cops Raid Downtown Hot Spot [NYP]
Related:Narcissistic and Highly Intoxicated Box Patrons Want Totally Gross Anthems, Says Owner
The September issue of Esquire is the gift that keeps on giving: Last week it introduced us to the foppish Thomas Crowley of Bar Veloce and his hilarious MySpace page; today it brings us “Angry Young Men,” a “new generation of mavericks” selected to wear $1,500 suits and glower for the camera. Two of our favorite mavericks made the cut: nightlife impresario Simon Hammerstein, looking tough with a burned-down cig and a stripy fall suit, and culinary “It” boy David Chang, mad as hell in classic houndstooth. We can see how running the Box would wear a guy out, but what got in D.C.’s craw? He looks like somebody just told him he had to use Boar’s Head bacon at Ssäm Bar. That said, he does look sharp.
Related:Bar Veloce GM Moonlights as Raffish FopWhat’s in the Box? [NYM]