The iconic Four Seasons, located in the Seagram’s building, designed by Philip Johnson and what’s his name, is closing, or moving, after 56 years.  If you’ve never eaten there, you’re probably not in the 1%.  When it opened in 1959, lunch for two was around $25 all in.  Now, it’s closer to $60.  Each. Plus tip.

I took my wife and two kids there once, many years ago.  It was something of a busman’s holiday.  I had spent several months working long hours helping Chef Gunter Seeger open what was to be the greatest restaurant in America.  Or at least Washington, D.C.  This was at the Regent Hotel, 1984.  After a grueling six months of getting open and running, Chef Seeger offered me a vacation and a hotel room in NYC at the Regent owned Mayfair Hotel.  How could I say no?  Why would I?  The Mayfair housed the famous ‘Le Cirque’ and was one of the nicest hotels in a city of great hotels.

My family was young: Jenna was two and a half, Jamie a year old.  I was going to make the most of this trip, culinarily speaking, and made reservations at Le Cirque, the famed Lutèce, and the Four Seasons (no relation to the great hotel chain).

Calling the Four Seasons, I asked for a table for four at lunch, early.  I noted that I was bringing two children with us.  Not a problem, said the reservationist.

Arriving at the Four Seasons, we were among the first customers for that day.  “May I help you?” asked the maître d’.  I detected a sneer.  Yes, reservation for four.  Sneed.

He: Hmmm.  You see (he sneered on) this isn’t exactly a restaurant for children.

Me: I told the reservationist I was bringing my two kids.

He: I doubt she realized how young they were.

Me: Do we get seated, or not?

He: Well, you do have a reservation.  If you were to insist…..

Me: Ok, I insist.

He: You’ll need to put on a jacket.  Please follow the busboy to the coat closet.

Me:  Fine.

As I walked away from him, in my brand new Lucchese boots and Sunday best, he called out with more than a little glee “Wait.  Aha.  We don’t allow jeans. Sooo sorry.”


I told this story to a friend 10 years later who assured me that things had since gotten so bad that I could have then walked in ‘wearing a speedo and flip flops’ and gotten served.  We’ll never know.

The next day we were to lunch at the famed Lutèce, home to Chef Andre Soltner.  Stacey decided to stay back at the hotel with our young son so Jenna and I went, Dad and daughter.  Entering, we walked by the open ‘pass’ and there was the great Chef Soltner nodding to us as we were led to our table.  Looking at my toddler-date the waiter paused and said “Please wait here a moment”.  He and a busboy then grabbed a stack of tablecloths and improvised a booster seat for Jenna so she could see what she was eating.