Frank Sinatra Dined Here
In spite of the title this essay really has nothing to do with Frank Sinatra. He’s really a minor player in the proceedings. This article is really more about human perversity as I perceive it.
Many, many years ago I was working as a waiter in a rather upscale restaurant on the east side of Manhattan. One night this guy came in and was seated at a table and was given a menu from which he ordered a drink and then dinner complete with appetizer and dessert. When it came time to pay the bill he told us that he was down on his luck and didn’t have any money. Upon closer inspection he did look a bit ragged and somewhat worse for the wear. The question was; why was he seated in the first place? But that didn’t matter anymore. He had been and now he couldn’t pay the bill.
We took the situation to Jamie, the ex-football player who owned the place. He went over to the guy who by this time was out of the dining room and standing by the coat check counter close to the door, and asked what was his story? The guy told him what he told us. That he was sorry but that he had no money. “Who put you up to this?” Jamie asked and the guy said no one. “So why’d you do it? Why did you come into my place and eat when you know you had no money?”… “I was hungry.” the guy said and for some reason that answer and the amount the guy ate seemed to infuriate Jamie so much that he grabbed the guy by the lapels and started shaking him. And probably would’ve punched him if we hadn’t intervened and restrained him…The guy was thrown out with the warning to never come anywhere near the premises again.
Some four months later Jamie got word that Frank Sinatra and his then new wife Mia were in town and for one reason or another planning to come to his place for dinner the following Tuesday night. It had been arranged by some publicist Jamie had hired. And Jamie who was a huge Sinatra fan was beside himself with excitement. The night before Sinatra was due in I heard him say that he was closing the place to other customers. When we asked him why he said: “I don’t want any Yo-yo’s bothering Frank and Mia when they’re having dinner.” We also watched him select the right cut of meat for Frank and his bride. Prime rib was our house specialty.
I didn’t work that night. But from what I heard everything went as it was supposed to. Sinatra and Mia showed up, Jamie and his girlfriend joined them, the food was cooked to perfection and Mr. Sinatra was pleased. When he reached into his pocket to pay for the dinner Jamie stopped him and said: “You can’t pay for anything in my place, Frank. Please allow me this courtesy.”… And Frank did.
When I was told this story the next day by the waiter who served them I remember thinking: “Isn’t that interesting? Jamie wanted to beat up that poor guy who came in and ate without money because he was hungry. But Frank Sinatra who could afford to buy the place ten times over he let eat for free. In fact even begged him..”
I think I learned something that day about life, people and the magic of being a celebrity. I also learned something about the perversity of society’s values too.