“I’ll never leave this place,” Glenn Bernbaum, proprietor of the unique New York City restaurant Mortimer’s, repeatedly informed me as his pal and lawyer.
In the small hours of Sept. 8, 1998, Glenn died along with his boots on, peering into his murky toilet mirror, all of the sudden tormented by liver failure. He keeled over backwards, smashing his head in opposition to the tiled wall. During all his shaves and showers, he by no means thought a shower mat can be his final stand, and Glenn did “not go gentle into that good night.”
He landed on his again within the tub—and in that on the spot Claus Von Bülow, Henry Kissinger, Dominick Dunne, Bill Blass, Kenny Lane, Nan Kempner, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie O and shiny luminaries of all sizes and shapes had been not going to toss their salads over Palm Beach gossip and Locust Valley plans at lunch.
For greater than 20 years, Mortimer’s had been a magnet for everyone who was anyone. (A brand new e-book, Mortimer’s: A Moment in Time, by Robin Leacock, Robert Caravaggi and Mary Hilliard, has simply been printed, recalling the vertiginous heights of social climbing by the likes of Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, C.Z. Guest, and Brooke Astor.)
Now Mortimer’s can be closed, shuttered without end.
My solely particular instruction, as recited in Glenn’s final will and testomony, which I painstakingly drafted, was: The minute I die, shut Mortimer’s, padlock the entrance door.
At 7 a.m. that day I used to be referred to as by Mortimer’s charming, battle-scarred maitre’d, Robert C. informing me of Glenn’s demise. Robert, not by eavesdropping, instantly knew I had mentioned the tip many instances with Glenn at Mortimer’s throughout our late afternoon conferences relationship again to the ’80s.
Glenn would name after lunch: “Mr. Golub, if you have nothing better to do, come over and let’s talk about my estate, I need a new will.” (Later in life I realized that almost everybody wants a brand new will as a result of so many heirs show to be undeserving.) Whatever I had on my plate that day was not going to be as a lot enjoyable as speaking to Glenn about his testomony plus anything below the solar together with his favourite topic—his internet value.
There had been extra tales in his repertoire than socialites in his deal with e-book and lots of of their travails had been a part of our consultations. Needless to say, everyone who was anyone ate or wished to eat at Mortimer’s. In one will that endured for 10 years—a number of others adopted—he bequeathed all of his worldly possessions to the animals within the Bronx Zoo. I urged him to be particular however he refused to call any of them personally.
In a will supposedly drafted within the late ’70s by Roy Cohn, not Esquire at that time, Glenn named maître d’ Stefanos Zachariadis as his sole inheritor. However, after Stefanos was convicted of plotting to homicide Glenn in an effort to expedite his inheritance, there was greater than ample cause to draft a brand new doc.
On the day of Glenn’s demise, after I arrived at Mortimer’s to meet his directions (stopping on the way in which at Lexington Hardware to buy a big padlock and 6 ft of chain) I used to be escorted to his personal rooms above the restaurant by the police. A burly nineteenth Precinct cop stood guard contained in the residence in entrance of the lavatory and presumptively briefed me. “There is no evidence of foul play.” The fake audition for Law and Order continued: “The body is behind that door, Mr. Bernbaum is dead.”
I must take his phrase for it. No civilian can be permitted to see the corpse though on the subject of drafting wills and the eventual observe up, I often like to watch the cadaver or the mortua persona. Professional courtesy, no cost.
Glenn and I didn’t have a lot in widespread however we had been good buddies, in all probability as a result of I grew up in a tenement proper above my father’s grocery retailer. The meals enterprise is a tie that binds. Every time I handed Orsay prior to now few years, identified for its positive French delicacies, Frenchified bistro décor and for taking on Mortimer’s house, I sensed a nudge in the direction of the entrance door. Think Pacino in Godfather III: “Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in.”
As time glided by, the nook of Lexington and East seventy fifth Street was getting tougher to keep away from. Early this April I relented and determined to have lunch at Orsay with no reservation.
Upon my arrival, Olivier, the gray-suited maître d’ unhesitatingly guided me to the left. It was the room the place I all the time met with Glenn, and Olivier’s outstretched hand indicated the exact banquette and desk. Naturally I sat there.
After the standard acclimation, I ordered the grilled Scottish salmon filet, a frisée salad, and a glass of iced tea. I’m on a strict weight-reduction plan however I oddly hesitated and thought of the hen hash or the well-known Mortimer’s twin burgers, as a result of I heard Glenn’s unmistakable gravelly voice confirming, “They are to this day the best things on the menu.” I whispered “Stop it Glenn, the kitchen is closed.”
The waitress, a horny brunette named Devon in her twenties, introduced me the iced tea. It was then I felt compelled to inform her who I used to be, together with an irrepressible want to speak about Mortimer’s and Glenn. I wasted no time informing her how he’d handed away and that I closed the place. I included the truth that Glenn died upstairs. Then unconsciously I muttered, “If these walls could talk…”
Devon didn’t hesitate.
“You mean the old man upstairs? I have seen him walking around with his cane, his hand is always trembling. I know he is the owner—I mean, was the owner a long time ago. I recognize him.”
I requested, “Did you know the upstairs, now the events room, was Glenn’s apartment?”
She merely stated “Yes,” and walked away.
After that revelation, I idiotically appeared round for the previous man, telling myself to eat and depart whereas I nervously picked away on the salmon. My urge for food was gone.
Minutes later, Devon returned accompanied by one other waitress who couldn’t wait to inform me one thing. “I have seen the old man many times upstairs, it is scary to go up there because he is walking around, there is a lot of activity up there. Even the exterminator talks about seeing him, he’s here in the morning and you can come and speak to him.”
A number of days later in furtherance of my analysis into the occult, I loved one other lunch at Orsay. This time I spoke to Claudio, the Wednesday maître d’ who in a businesslike vogue knowledgeable me, “I have seen the old man, he’s always wearing a dark suit, upstairs he’s walking around, I can hear him. His image appears on the restaurant’s security cameras. Even the exterminator (still nameless) has seen him early in the morning. He goes into the party room and disappears. The whiskey bottles, wine glasses on the bar late at night sometimes make noise, they touch each other, clinking. I don’t pay attention, because if I do, the rattling becomes more intense.”
If that didn’t high Tales from the Crypt, my waiter, Ryan, who appeared like a part-time GQ mannequin, added out of earshot of Claudio, “There was a Bengali busboy here who said during the early pandemic that he saw the old man and heard the serenading bar bottles and glasses. I’m planning to bring a Ouija board to work very soon and let’s see.”
Now I’m decided to seek out the previous man within the go well with. This isn’t my first rodeo. When it involves eerie and peculiar, Psycho actor Tony Perkins was my brother-in-law. Norman Bates would insist that I am going upstairs at Orsay and convey mom and Glenn their dinner.
Aaron Richard Golub is a outstanding New York City trial lawyer who has labored on high-profile circumstances involving Tom Brady, Donald Trump, Martin Scorsese, Brooke Shields, and Gisele Bundchen. He has been featured on the quilt of New York journal and in GQ’s “12 Guys You Should Know.” He is the writer of The Big Cut and just lately completed a brand new e-book, Ruckus.