Dining

Legendary New York City Restaurant Le Cirque Is Closing

The dining institution is expected to serve its last meal on New Year's Eve.
IMAGE FLICKR/LUDOVIC BERTRON
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After filing for bankruptcy in March, Le Cirque has announced that it expects to close after dinner on New Year's Eve.

"That’s the situation as of now, and it’s more than likely," Mauro Maccioni, one of founder Sirio Maccioni's sons, tells the New York Times. He cited high rent as the reason for the likely shuttering.

The restaurant first opened in 1974 and moved to its current location, its third, in March 2006, with an opening party that included the likes of Donald and Melania Trump, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Martha Stewart, Woody Allen, and Joan Rivers.


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Donald and Melania Trump at Le Cirque on May 16, 2006

Le Cirque's chefs, who have included David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, and Terrance Brennan, are credited with inventing the crème brûlée and spaghetti primavera, according to Business Insider. The restaurant has hosted celebrities, politicians, financiers, the pope, and—on one occasion—two American presidents at the same time (Reagan and Nixon, who were dining together).

Recent years have been difficult for the restaurant though. New York Times critic Pete Wells gave it a single-star review in 2012, writing, "These are not the best of times at Le Cirque, and I could never square what I’d eaten with what I’d been asked to pay for it." As Bloomberg pointed out, it also toyed with offering discounts for diners willing to eat at off-peak hours.

It's had social media troubles, too. After President Trump chose it for a fundraising dinner on September 26, an account under Sirio Maccioni's name issued the following since-deleted response to a Yelp review that alleged the restaurant was "aiding and abetting fascists and white supremacists."

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Sirio Maccioni and Martha Stewart at the opening party for Le Cirque at One Beacon Court

Yelp please remove this social media nazi white supremacist who incites hate and violence against hard working immigrant restaurant workers. Real New Yorkers have come to our restaurant this week and now business is booking. Best week of the year in sales. Jamie R is a nazi white supremacist and must be removed from Yelp together with his haters and bigot friends.

Mauro Maccioni (who was not reachable by phone) told Eater that a restaurant employee named Carlo Mantica, not his father, was responsible for the controversial response: "It was a mistake to engage, and Mr. Mantica’s views are his own and not those of the company," Mauro said.

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Overall, maybe Le Cirque's changes were too little, too late, and as Wells wrote, it was hurt by employing "a style of service that many people now regard as stiff and fussy."

For diners in search of a slice of old New York, there's another nearby option: La Goulue is opening a few blocks away later this month.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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