"He just rolled his eyes and asked for more bread," my friend says.
His most recent sighting was straight out of a John Waters film: Eminem's grandmother.
"She was passing out these business cards that had a photo of herself and Eminem on them and in big bold print, 'Eminem's (Slim Shady) Grandmother Was Here!' And on the back she had her autograph, Betty Kresin. Not handwritten, mind you, but already printed on the card."
In my days as a server, I only waited on a couple of has-beens -- like Jeff Conaway from Taxi. He was doing a show at the old Tiffany's Attic Dinner Theater, and one night he stood on his chair and recited Shakespeare to the entire dining room at Mama Stuffeati's. That performance was, I understand, far superior to his work at the dinner theater, where he didn't even finish the run of the show.
Servers love to dish celebrity stories. Veteran waiter John Hastings hated conservative radio personality Paul Harvey until he got a generous tip from the man; then he became a fan.
"Rod Stewart is a very good tipper," says Troy Davis (now at Milano). "Rod couldn't be nicer, but his band members were pricks."
Writer Lou Jane Temple, who owned the now-closed Café Lulu, recalls several celebrity encounters a decade ago when Article 99 and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge were being filmed in town. She remembers one night when Mr. and Mrs. Bridge producer Ismail Merchant came into the restaurant. "One of our waiters, not knowing it was him, went over to the table and told him, 'The special tonight is an Indian lamb thing from the cookbook written by the producer of that movie that's being filmed in town.' And it was his cookbook!"
One time, the cast of the made-for-TV movie Sometimes They Come Back came in for Thanksgiving dinner. Actress Brooke Adams changed her baby's diaper at the table, leaving the dirty one behind for the waiter to throw away. "He swore he'd never go to see her in a movie again," Temple says.