|Michael Jackson dines with Brooke Shields, 1991|
But that's what happens when a celebrity visits a restaurant. This isn't New York or Los Angeles; when a serious celeb stops at a local restaurant -- and we're not talking local "stars" like Gary Lezak or Rochelle from Carpet Corners -- it can upset the entire dynamic of a dining room.
Back in 1987, I was working in a midtown restaurant when Sting -- then at the height of his recording fame -- brought in his band and staff after his concert at Kemper Arena. They'd made a reservation, so the restaurant had prepared for the group's late arrival. I didn't wait on them but was fascinated by the way diners reacted to the star. Most of them pretended not to notice that there was a celebrity in the room while making semi-audible comments about the performer: "He's much uglier in real life" and "Are you sure that's him? He's so scrawny!"
I witnessed the flip side in the 1990s, when I was dining in a now-defunct Italian restaurant on 39th Street and the place was buzzing about a pretty blonde sitting in the center of the room with two friends. Our server, practically shaking with excitement, whispered to my table, "It's Tori Spelling!" I don't know which Tori Spelling this chick was pretending to be, but I can assure you that it wasn't the actress then starring in Beverly Hills 90210. But everyone else bought the story hook, line and sinker. Since I was working as an entertainment reporter at the time, I called Miss Spelling's management office in Los Angeles the next day to find out whether the young star had been in Kansas City that night. The answer was an emphantic no.
But I was working the night that Davey Jones and Mickey Dolenz -- those iconic stars of The Monkees -- ate at the Athena on Broadway before some performance and a middle-aged woman ran over to their table and gushed something to the effect that her "teenage fantasy was to have sex with both of you." Davey and Mickey laughed and laughed. The woman's husband was considerably less amused.
(Image via Flickr: thorne_ryne)