Are two Wolfgangs too many?
WHAT’S in a name? Plenty, if your name is Wolfgang. And if you happen to own a steakhouse in Beverly Hills.
New York restaurateur Wolfgang Zwiener opened Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in the 90210 Thursday. It’s the third in a growing mini-empire: The first two are in New York; a fourth is set to open in Hawaii in September; and a fifth in Miami is planned for next year. It’s not all the beef that’s generating news so much as the Beverly Hills location -- and the name on the restaurant’s doors.
Wolfgang Zwiener’s steakhouse is on North Canon Drive, just a few blocks from Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Spago, and a T-bone’s throw away from Puck’s own steakhouse, Cut.
According to Puck, who called The Times last week when he got a look under the plywood up the street from his flagship restaurant (“You come by, you have to see this,” Puck said. “It’s the weirdest thing.”), people are getting plenty confused. Puck’s been getting calls, he said, asking whether he has opened a second Cut up the street.
Puck wouldn’t comment further, pending discussion with his lawyers.
“We’re Wolfgang Zwiener, not Wolfgang Puck,” said Peter Zwiener, Wolfgang Zwiener’s son and co-owner of the steakhouse chain. “The look is completely different. Puck has a contemporary look, ours is more of a traditional, old-fashioned New York steakhouse.”
“It’s the new restaurant row,” he said of the reason they picked the Beverly Hills spot. Maybe the new steakhouse row -- Mastro’s is across the street.
Peter Zwiener pointed out that they added “by Wolfgang Zwiener” to the name on the doors (and to the name given on the phone), “so people wouldn’t get confused.”
If patrons are still confused (“by Wolfgang Zwiener” is in very small letters), they need only to walk through the doors into Wolfgang’s Steakhouse. Sure, it’s got the design (mosaic ceiling in the back dining room) and requisite celebrities (Christian Slater on Friday), but there’s no mistaking it for Puck’s Richard Meier-designed steakhouse.
If your name’s Wolfgang, it’s hard not to flaunt it. We understand, really. Mozart would have understood too. We’ll see whether Puck’s lawyers do.
-- Amy Scattergood
* Bastide executive chef Walter Manzke resigned last week, and former Providence chef de cuisine Paul Shoemaker takes the helm. In a bit of a switcheroo, Manzke still is scheduled to participate in the 5x5 Chefs Collaborative debut dinner at Providence on May 19, according to Providence chef Michael Cimarusti.
Bastide, 8475 Melrose Place, West Hollywood, (310) 651-5950; Providence, 5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 460-4170, providencela.com.
* On the east side: Chef Josef Centeno has opened Lot 1 in Echo Park, serving bacos (his flatbread-pizza-taco hybrid), dishes such as confit beet gazpacho and brunch. On the Westside: M Cafe de Chaya is open in Culver City.
Lot 1, 1533 Sunset Blvd., L.A, (213) 481-8400; M Cafe de Chaya, 9343 Culver Blvd., L.A., (310) 838-4300, mcafedechaya.com.