User's Guide

Graydon Carter Tells You Exactly Where You Want to Sit at Monkey Bar

Photo: Shanna Ravindra

In a piece that finds Allen Salkin riding along with Graydon Carter during the twenty minutes per day that he draws up the seating charts at the Waverly Inn and Monkey Bar, the Times finally answers the question: How exclusive is Monkey Bar, anyway? Turns out, 90 percent of reservations are made through the partners’ offices, and they switched from a reservations phone number to an e-mail just so it would be easier to tell people no. While wielding an all-powerful pink pencil that can make or break men, Graybee also reveals the dining-room lingo, and though he doesn’t say anything about “Siberia,” he does give us this: “the pit.”

Afterward, he expounded on his general philosophy for seating the restaurant. A sunken area in the center of the dining room that you see when entering is known as “the pit.” It is important to have “young, attractive people” at the first of two round tables in the pit, Mr. Carter said. “It gives a certain energy.”

Pointing to the two tables on an elevated area to the right side of the room, he said these were for people looking for a quiet meal.

On the opposite side of the room are four nice booths. “This is fashion and literary and young,” he said. That night, Cynthia McFadden of ABC news; Liz Smith, the gossip columnist; and Marjorie Gubelmann, a socialite, were in those booths.

Elevated over the pit opposite the entrance are a line of banquettes, which that night included a group of 20 or so guests of the socialite Jennifer Creel who were celebrating her debut as a designer of sunglasses sold at Bergdorf Goodman.

And behind them was the most-prime real estate, a line of booths on the back wall overlooking the whole scene. “This is young and media moguls,” Mr. Carter said, pointing to the booths, “and sort of single-name people.” On that night, Calvin Klein, Rupert Everett, Prince Andrew, Ron Perelman and Louise Grunwald were in those booths. When Madonna comes in, she gets a back booth.

So how do you make sure you get a prime table? For one thing, be careful not to “oversocialize” or you’ll be zapped with 50,000 volts of electricity next time you won’t be seated “near anyone to socialize with.” Ah, so there is a Siberia! But where? Actually, the question is: Having already gone through all this with the Waverly, do we really care?

Oh! And best part: One of the celebrities name-checked is John Stamos. That’s right — Uncle Jesse.

Many Called, But Few Were Seated [NYT]

Graydon Carter Tells You Exactly Where You Want to Sit at Monkey Bar