A few years ago, Vanity Fair columnist and author Michael Wolff announced that he would never dine at the media hotspot Michael's ever again. Did he suffer a horrible case of food poisoning? Get attacked by an elderly socialite with her Hermès handbag? Actually, his outrage stemmed from the fact that he'd been denied his customary table at the restaurant. Now we get to hear the other side of the story: Steve Millington, the general manager of the restaurant, describes the Wolff brouhaha on the Fortune website. And it turns out that quite a few Michael's regulars were pretty psyched to hear they'd no longer have to see him during their lunch hours:
I came into work—I suppose this was four years ago—and looked at our reservation book. I counted the tables and was flabbergasted to find us 20 tables over-booked. To say I was flustered is an understatement!
At that point, it didn't matter how the overbooking happened (human error and a computer glitch, I later learned). It was all about how to correct our mistake. Phone calls were made to our most understanding guests in hopes of weaning our numbers down. We got down to about 175 guests when I got the call from Michael Wolff—a notorious last minute reservation maker. He wanted a 1 p.m. reservation.
Impossible, I told him. I asked if he could do 1:30. He politely declined and said he would come another time. Moments later, he was to call Keith Kelly of the New York Post and say he planned on never returning to Michael's. (He had been a thrice-weekly regular for 10 years up to then). Keith put his comment in his column the following day. I was surprised at how many calls of congratulations I received. Like I said, this is a power pinnacle and everyone likes a nasty divorce!