It's difficult, these days, to find examples of the name Brian Williams not being preceded by the word "disgraced," but is the suspended newsman as much of a pariah in New York City at large as he is in journalism circles? To figure out, we ran a (highly scientific) experiment. Gawker, posing as the personal assistants to Brian Williams, Geraldo Rivera, and Allison Williams, called 15 of New York's most exclusive restaurants to see who has the most clout. Congratulations to Geraldo, King of New York!
A note on our methodology: Because we didn't want the hosts getting suspicious, we called for Brian Williams on a Thursday, for Geraldo on a Friday, and for Allison Williams on a Saturday. At each restaurant, we called the restaurants in the late afternoon and asked for a table for six at 7 p.m. that night. We made the calls on behalf of Allison Williams on Valentine's Day — we are reasonably certain that had it been a normal Saturday, her results would've looked much better. (And the fact that she got any tables at all on Valentine's Day, calling mere hours before dinner, speaks to her as status as a member, albeit an incredibly boring one, of New York's elite.)
Overall, Brian Williams succeeded in reserving a last-minute table at 33⅓ percent of the restaurants we called on Thursday. Geraldo beats him with a 40 percent success rate, though mostly at undesirable times. And on one of the busiest nights of the year for New York restaurants, a respectable 20 percent of restaurants made room for Allison Williams.
|Brian Williams||Geraldo Rivera||Allison Williams|
|Sushi Nakazawa||Yes, 5 p.m.||No||No|
|Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare||No||No||No|
|Dirty French||No||Yes, 10:45 p.m.||No|
|Minetta Tavern||N/A||No||Yes, 7 p.m.|
|The Polo Bar||No||No||Yes, 7:30 p.m.|
|Breslin||Yes, 6:30 p.m.||Yes||N/A|
|Eleven Madison Park||No||No||No|
|Jean Georges||No||Yes, 6:30||No|
|Le Bernadin||No||Yes, 5:15 p.m.||No|
|Daniel||Yes, 8:15 p.m.||Yes, 5 p.m.||No|
|Babbo||Yes||Yes, 6:15 p.m.||Yes, 5:30 p.m.|
*Officially does not accept reservations.
First, we must confront the baffling fact that there are popular, award-winning restaurants in New York City that will make room for Geraldo Rivera on a Friday night, though most will only seat him before or after prime dinner time. Rivera was the only person to score a table at Le Bernadin, the restaurant frequently described as the best in the city. (Allison Williams may have had better luck another day.) And, somehow, only Rivera was able to score a table at Dirty French, one of the most popular new restaurants in town.
Ralph Lauren's Polo Bar told Brian Williams they were booked for the month, two days before they offered to seat his daughter and three companions at 7:30 p.m.. And the staff at Minetta Tavern was prepared to do anything possible to get Allison Williams in the door, giving her a prime table at the last minute on Valentine's Day.
But the suspended anchorman is still welcome at some of New York's best establishments, including Per Se and Daniel, both of which were simply too packed to make room for his daughter. Someone still loves you, Brian Williams.
"For this evening I'm fully committed, is there any other night at all that would work for you?"
Unable to get through to the restaurant.
"It's super packed. Let me check with the maitre 'd." [Five minutes later.] "We can do six people at 7 p.m. We have her in our system with a 203 number, is that still correct?"
Rao's answers the phone with a prerecord message announcing that "the reservation book is closed" for the year.
"Booked for the month."
"If he wants to come back another night, we'd love to have him."
"He is no longer with NBC, is he?"
 The dedicated reservations line was closed for the weekend, and at the host stand it was too loud for our request to even be understood.
"Literally any other night..."
At the casual room, not the formal room.
"How do you spell his first name?"
Table for two only.
 "We are fully and completely reserved, to the brim. But it was definitely worth a try."
 "We can make this work for you."
 Fully booked, but called back at 5 p.m. to say a table could be made available at 5:30 p.m.
[Image by Jim Cooke, photos via Getty]