Marea

Last Thursday, in an interview with CNBC, Carl Icahn said something so shocking that the only logical explanation for the words passing his lips was that he’d been drinking (which he had). With cameras rolling, Icahn told David Faber, of fellow hedge fund manager Bill Ackman: “We have our differences, but I never said he’s not a smart guy. I think the concept of this [bid with Valeant to buy Allergan] is good. I hope it works out better for him than Herbalife did, and I think it will…There’s nothing wrong with making a bid for a company and using someone else’s funds.” That Icahn had anything remotely nice, much less complimentary, to say about Ackman was so surprising because since 2005, following a disagreement over an investment, the men have shared feelings for one another that can be summed up thusly: they hate each other. You know this, I know this, the maître d’ at Marea knows this. And yet there Icahn was, saying nice things about a guy who in the past he’s called, via press release, a shitty investor for whom he has no respect; who he’s described, on CNBC, as “the crybaby in the school yard“; and who he’s sworn, in at least one interview, that he’d never invest with again. (For his part, Ackman has called Icahn a liar who “takes advantage of little people,” whose offer of friendship he didn’t have to think twice about before turning down.)

What made Carl change his tune? Was it more than just the booze? For now, that remains unclear. What is clear is that someone was watching and was touched by the comments, martini-fueled or not. Because less than 48 hours later, this happened: Read more »

Increasingly, restaurants are recording whether you are a regular, a first-timer, someone who lives close by or a friend of the owner or manager. They archive where you like to sit, when you will celebrate a special occasion and whether you prefer your butter soft or hard, Pepsi over Coca-Cola or sparkling over still water. In many cases, they can trace your past performance as a diner; how much you ordered, tipped and whether you were a “camper” who lingered at the table long after dessert…Much of this information is discreetly embedded in an alphabet soup of acronyms that pops up on the computer screen when a restaurant employee checks you in, managers and employees at a number of high-end New York restaurants said in interviews. The wine whale may show up as WW. If a free appetizer lands on your table at Osteria Morini in SoHo, chances are your file says SFN — something for nothing…At Marea, Michael White’s Italian restaurant on Central Park South, for instance, the hedge fund manager William A. Ackman is a regular and one of many customers who rates an NR, never refuse. What the computer does not say (but the general manager, Rocky Cirino, knows) is that servers can never seat Mr. Ackman next to Carl C. Icahn, another big Wall Street name. The two have sued each other. [NYT]