Who Is Keith McNally? What To Know About The Restauranteur – Hollywood Life
James Corden is allowed to eat at New York City hotspot Balthazar after all. The restaurant’s owner, Keith McNally, claimed the actor and Late Late Show With James Corden host, 44, was allegedly “abusive” to his staff on multiple occasions and banned him, then reversed course after a swift apology. The restaurateur took to Instagram on Monday, October 17 to “86” the host and make the surprising accusations. HollywoodLife reached out Corden’s rep for comment and had not received a response by the time of publication, but within hours he had reversed his decision, revealing that James had apologized.
“James Corden is a Hugely gifted comedian, but a tiny Cretin of a man,” Keith wrote on his verified account for his 71K followers. “And the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago. I don’t often 86 a customer, to today I 86’d Corden. It did not make me laugh.”
In a second post, the drama seemed to subside, as Keith abruptly reversed course. “James Corden just called me and apologized profusely,” he wrote via Instagram alongside another pic of James. “Having f***ed up myself more than most people, I strongly believe in second chances. So if James Corden lets me host his Late Late Show for 9 months, I’ll immediately rescind his ban from Balthazar. No, of course not. But….anyone magnanimous enough to apologize to a deadbeat layabout like me (and my staff) doesn’t deserve to be banned from anywhere. Especially Balthazar. So Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Corden, Jimmy Corden. All is Forgiven. xx”
Keith had earlier detailed two “manager’s report” incidents in which the actor was allegedly rude to his staff at the trendy French restaurant and celebrity haunt located in Manhattan’s SoHo area. In one, James reportedly was “extremely nasty” to staff after accusing them of having a hair in the food, then making demands for free drinks. “’Get us another round of drinks this second,’” Keith alleged James said. “‘And also take care of all of our drinks so far. This way I write any nasty reviews in yelp or anything like that.’”
In another incident, Keith claims James suggested he should “go into the kitchen” and cook an omelet himself after his wife’s omelet had a slight imperfection, leaving staff “shaken.” As the world acquaints itself with the man who “86’d” and then welcomed back one of TV’s most beloved comedians, here’s what to know about the powerful restaurant owner.
1. Keith Is Well Known
Keith isn’t simply a “restaurant owner.” Back in 2004, The New York Times dubbed him “The Restaurateur Who Invented Downtown.” But he’s also low-key. “On the other hand, Mr. McNally, unglamorous and shy, is the opposite of the power maître d’hôtel who welcomes customers and arranges a seating chart as if he were an orchestra conductor,” writes Joyce Wadler in The Times. “He does not have a press agent and insists he does not court celebrities, particularly at Schiller’s on the Lower East Side, after his two most recent successes, Balthazar and Pastis.”
2. His Restaurants Are Popular With Celebrities
According to the legendary newspaper, the influential businessman is decidedly self-effacing. ”I don’t know a lot of celebrities,” the NYT reported he said. “I’m sure you’re going to write it in such a way that looks like I do, and I don’t.” Still, the names dropped in the piece who had dined at his restaurants included Oscar winner Nicole Kidman, Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour, Elvis director Baz Luhrmann, and Chelsea Clinton, among others.
3. He Owns Multiple Enormously Successful Restaurants
Per his official Wikipedia page, Keith owns multiple high profile eating establishments. Aside from Balthazar, they include Augustine, Schiller’s, Odeon, Lucky Strike, Cafe Luxembourg, Morandi, Cherche Midi, Minetta Tavern, Nell’s, Pastis, and Pravda.
4. Keith Is Known For Courting Controversy
James Corden isn’t his first dance with controversy. Keith has been called out for supporting controversial figures in the past. Aside from backing up disgraced director Woody Allen after the documentary series Allen V. Farrow was released in 2021, he’s also been known to repeatedly speak up for Jeffrey Epstein pal Ghislaine Maxwell via social media, per Insider. His support of the controversial filmmaker seems to have a background — The NYT reported that one of his restaurants, Pastis, closed in February of 2003 to accommodate Allen. ”Woody Allen shot one of his films there and he’s not happy with one of his actors, so he wanted to reshoot it,” he reportedly told the newspaper.
5. He’s A Father
According to the NYT, he’s also a father. The newspaper reported that in 2004, he had an 8-month-old son named George with his second wife, Alina — making him now nearly 20 years old. He also has a daughter, Isabelle McNally, who dated Jonah Hill, per Heavy. Isabelle, now 33, is an actress and model. Her mother is restaurateur Lynn Wagenknecht, who was Keith’s first wife. He also has a brother, Brian McNally, who is also a NYC restaurateur.