Rupert Everett is a great friend of Tea & Sympathy. A man totally unaffected by his fame, he always pops by for a chat and a cuppa when he’s in NYC. But don’t worry, he has to wait his turn like everyone else!
While Nicky’s Rules may not be universally liked, there’s really no other way of running such a small and busy establishment. And, as this excerpt from a New York Times feature on Rupert shows, we really do mean it when we say they apply to everyone. If you ever fancy a spot of stargazing, we recommend you start with the bench outside our restaurant!
The story below begins at lunch at the Greenwich Hotel, before switching to a little less swanky – but surely more enjoyable! -breakfast with us.
…As we walked to the table, the women in the room looked at him devouringly. Every one of the men — young, old, gay, straight, fat, thin — looked at him with a single expression: dejection. Everett has had people staring at him for so much of his life that he seems quite unaffected by it. I couldn’t help thinking that any other man who got these kinds of looks from both men and women would be a complete monster.
Everett didn’t have to worry about any of that the following morning at Tea & Sympathy, a 23-seat restaurant in Greenwich Village run by British expatriates. The place is so small that the owners learned early to be brutal — no reservations, no incomplete parties seated — and people line up all the same because the food is good and the look of the place is charming. Everett gets no star treatment here, which he loves (just like home), so he arrived early to snag a table. I beat him by a few minutes — they didn’t care whom I was meeting — and back out on the street, I read the rules posted on the door. One said: “If we don’t need the table you may stay all day, but if people are waiting and you have finished your meal, then it’s time to naff off!”
A taxi pulled up with Everett, dressed in the same clothes from the day before, still unshaven and with Sophie Theallet in tow. She is a soft-spoken woman with dark hair and a sweet smile, beautifully dressed in a don’t-look-at-me way that makes you want to look at her. Like any designer in the midst of preparing a show, she seemed tired and distracted, but she adores Everett and rubbed his neck tirelessly as he assured her he was either getting arthritis or dying. She assured him she had the perfect acupuncturist for the job, and heartened, he tucked into a plate of bacon, eggs, sausage, broiled tomato and toast. When he finished that, he ate half my crumpet, with butter and Marmite.
“Very few designers design now,” he said. “They’re stylists, really. They have design teams. Sophie’s is very cottagelike. Her clothes have beautiful sewing, attention to detail and fashion literacy. Maybe Miuccia Prada does. No one else.” Theallet produces her clothes in New York, and she sells to Barneys and Jeffrey.
“What’s happening in fashion is not at all exciting,” Everett opined. “The obsession with having someone else’s name on your body is extraordinary. If fashion takes over your whole identity, it’s not chic, actually.”
When breakfast was finished, the two of them were going to look at a suite of hotel rooms that Babst had proposed for Everett’s stay; they were furnished, there were support services and there was no pink carpeting.
I said goodbye to them both, and Everett sat back down to finish his tea. As Theallet spoke, he turned toward her, gazing deep into her eyes, listening acutely. Although he had shaken my hand and kissed both my cheeks and thanked me profusely for the time we spent together, I felt the unmistakable chill of sunbathing on a cold day when suddenly a cloud comes. It was time for me to naff off. And so I did.