Warner LeRoy has died
- Tom Steele
Warner LeRoy, the man who resurrected two restaurants that have taken a lot of flack at this site, The Russian Tea Room and Tavern on the Green, died Thursday night of an apparent heart attack. He was only 66 years old.
In addition to his extremely colorful, deliberately conspicuous roles as a restaurateur, he got Meals on Wheels off the ground, and was a major contributor of time, energy, and money to a number of worthy and important causes, earning him tremendous respect from (most of) his peers. I've heard that Sirio Maccioni is just inconsolable over LeRoy's passing.
I've actually had very good food at both restaurants, especially RTR after the new chef came in. People who say it isn't as good as it was before it was sold and closed and rebuilt are pretty much wrong. I had some mighty forgettable meals there during the 80s and early 90s, and all three times I visited after the reopening were memorably delicious, if a bit uneven. (Chicken Kiev was sublime--best I've ever had--the first time I sampled it there; the next time it was nearly lousy.)
Anyway, this does mark the end of an era, for better or worse, depending on your viewpoint.
This news is sad to hear. I remember the first restaurant I went to of Warner LeRoy's. It was back in the 60's and called Proof of the Pudding on East 64th Street & First Avenue. It was a fun place, very cute with lots of Tiffany lamps and, for the time, had creative food in a boring neighborhood. It later turned into a singles hangout reminiscent of that period and a movie with Dustin Hoffman & Mia Farrow depicted that type of scene (I think it was called "John loves Mary")
Warner LeRoy was a showman and innovator and I'm sorry to hear the news.