The only people who didn’t drink were Mr. Peterson and Mr. Schwarzman, Mr. Niccolini said. “But Sandy Weill,” he said, referring to the former head of Citigroup, “he enjoyed his cocktail.”
He’s less sanguine about the move toward more casual dress: “I’m waiting for Dan Loeb to show up with sneakers on,” he said referring to the activist hedge fund manager, with a quick laugh. “I mean really, no. It’s still Park Avenue, believe it or not.”
Whether over drinks or duck, part of what long mattered about the Four Seasons was being there.
“It was important to be seen, to carry on negotiations privately but in sight of others,” Paul Freedman wrote in his 2016 book, “Ten Restaurants That Changed America.” The Four Seasons, with its cathedral ceilings, allowed patrons to “see their neighbors, hear their own confidential conversation without difficulty, and not be overheard — all in a serenely luxurious setting,” he wrote.
Mr. Freedman’s book discusses the Four Seasons in the past tense. It closed that year, losing its place in the Seagram Building on Park Avenue, but with plans to move a few blocks away. Just a few months before, Mr. Niccolini pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. The plea stemmed from an allegation that he had sexually abused a woman the year before during a party at the restaurant. Mr. Niccolini was also the subject of a sexual harassment suit from a former waitress that was resolved in 1992, although the details were not made public.
“I’ve dealt with it,” he said. “It is something of the past.”
And so the Masters of the Universe — or at least their assistants — are lining up their reservations once more.
“Everybody wants to pick their own table,” Mr. Niccolini said, listing the names of Wall Street luminaries who had visited the restaurant before its opening to claim a spot.