New York magazine celebrates the genius of Keith McNally

“Among the city’s leading restaurateurs, almost no one but McNally and Danny Meyer has built an empire that, as Times former food critic Frank Bruni says, “combine[s] the restaurant equivalent of big box office with serious foodie followings.” But if the St. Louis–bred Meyer is a genial, Jimmy Stewart–voiced executive in coat and tie who’s serving haute cuisine at Eleven Madison Park and franchising his fast-food stand Shake Shack as far away as Kuwait, McNally is the sensitive, temperamental, bed-headed artist in khakis and an old sweater, who has rebuffed opportunities to cash in by replicating any of his restaurants, who dropped out of the business for a few years to write and direct movies, and who routinely goes over budget in thrall to some private aesthetic compulsion.” …

“McNally doesn’t socialize with fellow restaurateurs and is allergic to anything he deems self-serious, such as Danny Meyer’s book Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business. “I would rather be shipped off to Iraq than write or read a book like that,” McNally says. Later, he elaborates in an e-mail: “As a restaurateur there’s no better operator in the country. However, there’s categorically no sillier or more pretentious title for a book. I’m just relieved Dostoyevsky didn’t use the same title for Crime and Punishment.””

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