Michael McCarty: NEW YORK CITY IS BACK!
Star|January 10, 2022
THE OWNER OF FAMED BIG APPLE RESTAURANT MICHAEL’S TALKS TO CHEF JUDY JOO ABOUT THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY’S RETURN TO FORM.
CHEF JUDY JOO

MICHAEL MCCARTY almost can’t believe how well his celebrated New York City restaurant is doing 20-plus months after he was forced to shutter its Midtown doors due to the pandemic. “We’re back to where we were,” he says happily. “People had so much pent-up energy from being stuck inside. It’s exhilarating to see how customers have re-embraced the restaurant business the way they have.” Here, celebrity chef Judy Joo catches up with the restaurateur, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, about the lasting appeal of Michael’s (which also has a location in Santa Monica, Calif.), his favorite famous clients and how it feels to be back in the swing of things.

Everyone knows the hospitality industry was hit hard by the pandemic. What were those first few days and weeks like?

We were feeling our way through the dark. At first, we were just supposed to be closed for two weeks. It was this wait-and-see thing.

How did you cope?

We took it month by month and tried to remain positive and optimistic. It was an odd time, but time heals all. I told my staff, “We’ve just got to get through this and survive.” As one of my best customers, Muhammad Ali, would say, “Stay in the ring. Take the punches. At least you’re still in the ring.”

And when did things start to feel like they were getting back to normal?

We opened up simultaneously on both coasts during the first week of May. I had laid off everybody, so we called back the staff. We took off like a bat out of hell and were astounded by the enthusiasm.

Have most of your loyal clients returned?

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