03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Le Cirque Owner On How A Bad New York Times Review Can Traumatize A Staff

Lloyd Grove: Let me ask you about a sore subject. Let's get it out of the way quick. New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni--

Sirio Maccioni: Who's he? I don't know him.

L.G.: [Laughs] Frank Bruni came here back in July 2006, and in the movie, you're shown reacting to his review in the New York Times.

S.M.: That was a big mistake. I should not have ever reacted. Now, you know, you learn you don't react.... The press has been more than fair with me. We had people from important magazines, Town and Country, Vanity Fair, not easy people, doing something very important, even the gossip columns. They're with us, they show me eating a hamburger up in the mountains, which was funny. But Frank Bruni, if that's his name, still doesn't--

L.G.: So if I keep saying Frank Bruni to you, you're going to have to just get up and leave?

S.M.: The Times has been back. They sent a photographer.

L.G.: So you're waiting for the review.

S.M.: I will not make the same mistake I did with the movie. I will treat them completely with indifference, regardless of what they say.... Still, a good review from the New York Times makes you feel good. Not only me but the people that work in the kitchen. Can you imagine how you feel uncomfortable being here and working [after a bad review]? Especially the young people. When a bad review comes, sometimes they look at me and say "Why?" You have to try to explain and just try not to think about it.

[Bruni's more positive reassessment of Le Cirque, headlined "In Defense of Decadence" and restoring a star for a total of three for "excellent," appeared on February 6.]

L.G.: Let me ask you, other than your bruised vanity, did the 2006 review have any impact on your business? And did you change things as a result of the reviews?

S.M.: Oh yes, oh yes. No, we tried to change. I had to change the general manager, the No. 1 chef, the pastry chef, and the officer manager. It's like changing your driver when your car is going at 150-miles-an-hour speed. It was very traumatic, but I had to do it.