Friday, June 15, 2012

Restaurateur Keith McNally Rents Out Village Townhouse

OWNER: Keith McNally
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $25,000 per month
SIZE: (approximately( 3,600 square feet, 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms (plus separate studio apartment)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: For reasons and purposes beyond our purview, celebrities and other high profile people seem to be in the mood to lease out their luxury homes on both the west and east coasts. Did you know Martin Lawrence wants two hundred grand a month for his Beverly Hills Pile? What about former 007 stud Pierce Brosnan? He and the missus Keely Shaye want a cool quarter million a month for their Malibu beach house, but just for the months of July and August.

The ever-industrious kids at Curbed revealed yesterday (via The Standard hotel blog) that literary Brat Packer Bret Easton Ellis wants five grand a month for his 950-square foot open-plan studio apartment at the American Felt Building in New York City's fully strollerfied East Village 'hood. The apartment claims amenities much desired by urbanites like 14-foot ceilings, a private washer/dryer set up, and a 400 square foot private terrace for dog running and summertime shindigs. This is the same building, incidentally and for anyone who might care, where Tom and Katie Cruise are rumored and reported to maintain a shy handful of apartments.

There was even some scuttlebutt this week about actress Claire Danes (and hubby Hugh Dancy) finding a renter for their sizable SoHo loft they recently had on the market for nearly six million clams and today comes celebrity real estate word, via our unofficial aide de camp Hot Chocolate, that British-born, New York City restaurateur Keith McNally has hoisted his unsurprisingly boîte-like, 19th century townhouse in New York's Greenwich Village on the rental market with a monthy asking price of $25,000.

Boob-toob watchers, gossip glossy readers and the majority of people in the world not familiar or concerned with the most haute of the au courant eating and drinking establishments frequented by New York City's downtown demimonde probably don't know who Mister McNally is and we're sure we'll get some gripes about how we should talk about actual famous people. Fair enough. However, in our defense, in his boozy, gastronomic milieu of foodies and famous folks plus a diverse array of globe trotting scenesters, taste makers and uptown slummers, Keith Mcnally is a gaw-damn rock star.

Mister McNally—not to be confused with his also very successful, Saigon-based restaurateur brother Brian—is usually described as unassuming, low key and limelight eschewing. His bustling eateries, on the other hand, may be low key and unassuming by design like their creator, but they are typically and stratospherically high-profile long before they're even open for business. Certainly he's had greater and lesser triumphs and even a few failures but even cassoulet haters and demimonde despisers must give credit where credit is due: The man clearly understands how to create restaurants and night spots instantly and frequently jammed with expensively dressed spendy types who like to be seen on the Big Apple scene.

In 1980 Mister McNally (with his brother and another lady) opened the impossibly chic Odeon restaurant and bar, a still-hopping (if long past its dernier cri) Parisian-style diner improbably located on what was in the early 1980s still a pretty bleak stretch of West Broadway, way below Canal Street in TriBeCa. Believe it or not pretty ponies, back then TriBeCa was not a neighborhood uptown (or downtown) people with money, class and town cars had even heard of let along been to for dinner. Nowadays of course, TriBeCa is one of the most expensive zip codes in Manhattan where warehouses and loft buildings are now inhabited by a lot celebrities, Wall Streeters and foreign-born nannies. Mister McNally is, for better or worse, at least partially responsible for the radical gentrification of the area. Indeed, the Old Grey Lady herself once called him "The Restaurateur Who Invented Downtown."

After The Odeon, where anyone who was anybody or wanted to be somebody among the New York City glitterati gathered like lemurs to gnash their gleaming teeth on steak frites and niçoise salad, Mister McNally (and various partners) went on to open a string of mostly downtown boîtes, brasseries and bistros that instantly became (and often remained) wildly popular with anyone who was anybody or wanted to be somebody among the New York City glitterati.

Mister McNally's Manhattan eatery empire currently includes (but ain't limited to) Lucky Strike in the East Village where, back in the Dark Ages, Your Mama used to occasionally booze it up with a gaggle of lesbian ladies, some of whom went on to film making fame and fortune; Café Luxembourg on the Upper West Side. Anybody else remember the adverts for Café Lux in Interview with the trio of butt-nekkid Rubenesque ladies bellied up to the bar?; Nell's, the original, beyond fabulous, velvet rope one on West 14th Street; the glammed-up, Soviet-style bar Pravda on Lafayette Street on the edge of SoHo; and the almost mawkishly Francophilic (and wildly successful) brasserie Balthazar in the commercial heart of SoHo.

There's also Schiller's Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side, a haven for hipster who haven't fled Manhattan for Brooklyn; the louche and intimate speakasy-ish redux of Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village; and the kinda pricey, pizza-centric Pulino's on The Bowery. There's more but we'll spare you.

Property records show Mister McNally and his second Missus Alina picked up their brick and brownstone townhouse in Greenwich Village in October 2002 for $2,496,000. At that time, according to online documentation we dug up, the four floor (plus basement) townhouse, originally built in 1842 for a man named Peter McLaughlin according to The Greenwich Village Historic District Report, was divided into four separate apartments of about 700 or, maybe, 800 square feet apiece.

Current listing information (and the floor plan included with it) shows the townhouse has since been reconfigured with just two units: a characteristically cramped garden level studio with 1 bathroom and direct backyard access and a 3-plus floor owner's unit with a total of 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. A wine cellar and the building's laundry facilities (as well as various other mechanical equipment and storage space) are down in the full basement.

The townhouse, a modified Greek Revival on the outside all done up like a peasant-y yet sophisticated French country farmhouse on the inside, seems to have changed little since Mister and Missus McNally had their house photographed for New York magazine in the fall of 2002. The day-core then as now presents about as one might expect from a British-born, Francophilic restaurateur in New York City: The floors are wood and worn but well preserved; paintings are hung salon style of walls that look (faux) stained with tobacco; there's an gleaming upright piano near the dining area for after-dinner sing-a-longs; the upholstered pieces are (mostly) slip covered for convenience and the various cabinets and tables are (mostly) painted and/or distressed to look salvaged and probably bought, as suggested in the New York magazine article, at flea markets in Paris or Montpelier on on 26th Street. Oh dear. Remember the old flea markets on 26th and 6th? Memories...but we digress.

The parlor level front door no longer open into a vestibule or proper foyer like they probably originally did but directly in to an expansive, positively loft-like living/dining/kitchen space that extends from the front of the house clear through to the back where it opens to a small private deck with stair access to the garden. The various sitting, dining and food preparing areas are well defined but stitched together with continuous, antique-looking wide plank wood floors, rugged wood ceiling beams and columns—not original to the house as per New York magazine—and two antique brick fireplaces, the one in the kitchen downright huge and the one in the living area fronted by a carved wood mantelpiece.

The colossal kitchen space is an almost Disneyland-like fantasia with a gigantic industrial stove; subway tiled back splashes that reach all the way to the ceiling; an over-sized, vintage porcelain farmhouse sink; open shelving for easy spice access and an old-school plate drying/storage rack; a Cadillac-sized sky light that floods the room with light; and—we know y'all see it too—a beat up island work table over which dangles an iron pot rack dripping with a potentially dangerous array of hair-pulling and noggin-knocking pots and pans.

The tea-stained buttercup yellow-colored walls continue up from the main living space on the parlor floor to the the spacious master suite that sweeps across the entire third floor with a good-sized bedroom with (apparently functional) fireplace; a private office or dressing room; and closet-lined dressing hall. The worn and restored wide-plank wood floors—they may or may not be original to the house, we don't know—continue from the bedroom through the dressing hall and in to an adjoining, bedroom-sized bathroom outfitted with a linen and toiletry storage closet; (possibly decorative) antique brick fireplace; over-sized shower stall with huge window; and a soaking tub that juts out at a 45-degree angle from the corner of the room next to a painted wicker settee.

Two additional guest/family bedrooms on the top floor each have a private (windowless) pooper and there's an additional, separate windowed room suitable for use as an office, Pilates studio, too-cozy poker parlor, model making room and/or etc. The fourth bedroom is privately but somewhat inconveniently situated just off the public hall on the garden level. This is a great set up for a live-in domestic like Your Mama's privacy requiring house gurl Svetlana but not so great for house guests like our usually drunk and lascivious b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau who would no doubt install a revolving door on the private street entrance to better facilitate the constant flow of "friends" and paramours that shows up wherever she goes.

Current listing information indicates Mister McNally would be willing to lease the townhouse without the garden apartment for a slightly lower $23,000 per month and old listing information reveals this isn't the first time they've recently put the townhouse up for rent. The price, either one, is a hell of a lot less than Martin Lawrence wants for his big ol' beast of a mansion in Beverly Hills but, still, you basically have to want or agree to live in a residential version of one of Mister McNally's restaurants. That said, given how popular his eateries are we imagine he'll have little trouble finding a tenant. We shall see.

A quick perusal of property records also shows Mister McNally (and his Missus) also maintain a 4.3 acre, fairly well secluded or at least sequestered spread with a 6 bedroom and 4.5 bathroom house on Martha's Vineyard they acquired way back in 1993 for $485,000.

listing photos and floor plan: Corcoran


Anonymous said...

Mama, you failed to mention my personal favorite and old cafeteria while I lived in NYC, Indochine, which was virtually star studded nightly...

Anonymous said...

While on the rougher side (compared to UES), I definitely like the plans. Quite palatial by NYC standards. However, the toilet in the masterbath is awkward to say the least. Privacy would be nice. Um, honey, can I disturb your bath to pinch a loaf? I mean really. Couldn't there be a separate stall for it? Otherwise, pretty nice.

Anonymous said...

Damn, Mama--is this some sort of punishment? I can't read all of that. Or any of that. Can you keep it under 5,000 words? You must have been "on one" today.

It's okay though. Maybe I am on one.

Mama's black sheep in Weho,

Still here and not coming home for the fourth!! Mama likes to salute the flag, play with fireworks, AND get her drink on. Sounds scary!

Anonymous said...

You took me right back to my youthful days in NYC. Walking out of Odeon some nights was tricky.

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