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‘All Is Forgiven’: Keith McNally Unbans James Corden From Balthazar Following Apology [Update]

“Having fucked up myself more than most people, I strongly believe in second chances”

Servers walk through Balthazar’s high-ceilinged dining room.
Comedian James Corden has been unbanned from Balthazar.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Comedian James Corden is back in Keith McNally’s graces after being “banned” from Balthazar for allegedly mistreating the Soho restaurant’s staff over multiple visits. “James Corden just called me and apologized profusely,” McNally wrote in an Instagram post on Monday night. “Having fucked up myself more than most people, I strongly believe in second chances.”

McNally, who owns Manhattan restaurants including Balthazar, Pastis, and Minetta Tavern, joked that he would let Corden back into the iconic French bistro if he was allowed to “host his Late Late Show” for nine months. “No, of course not. But….anyone magnanimous enough to apologize to a deadbeat layabout like me (and my staff) doesn’t deserve to be banned from anywhere. Especially Balthazar,” McNally wrote in the post. “All is Forgiven.”

The decision to give Corden a “second chance” comes roughly seven hours after McNally banned the comedian from Balthazar for mistreating the French restaurant’s staff and demanding free drinks from servers. “James Corden is a Hugely [sic] gifted comedian, but a tiny Cretin [sic] of a man,” McNally said in a post on Monday afternoon. “And the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago.”

In the post, McNally recounted an incident at Balthazar in June, when Corden allegedly found a hair in his meal and demanded, “another round of drinks this second,” threatening to write “nasty reviews” of the restaurant online. During a separate incident at the restaurant in October, McNally claims the comedian began “yelling like crazy” after finding traces of egg white in his wife Julia Carey’s “egg yolk omelette with gruyere cheese.”

“You can’t do your job,” Corden allegedly yelled at staff during the October visit. “Maybe I should go into the kitchen and cook the omelette myself!’” McNally claims the comedian “behaved similarly” at Cafe Luxembourg, the Upper West Side restaurant McNally opened in 1983 and has since stepped away from. Multiple spokespeople for Corden did not respond to a request for comment.

The apology appears to have settled the online dispute for now, although not everyone is pleased. “Take no prisoners Keith,” one user commented on the post. “This is who that dude is,” another wrote. “If you want people like him around — I’ll never eat there.”

Since joining Instagram roughly two years ago, McNally has become known for his unconventional and at times problematic social media presence. Once known as “The Restaurateur Who Invented Downtown,” McNally is an outspoken defender of Woody Allen (the director accused but not charged of child abuse by daughter Dylan Farrow), and recently praised Roman Polansky, a director who was arrested and charged with statutory rape in 1979.

Update: October 18, 2022, 9:51 a.m.: This article was updated to reflect that James Corden has been unbanned from Balthazar.