Joe Germanotta talks new restaurant, Gaga as a child
The red awning is up along with ivy and Christmas wreaths at the entrance of Joanne, the much anticipated NYC Italian from Joe Germanotta and chef Art Smith, but despite the festive and welcoming appearance, it won’t open its doors until next month. A small sign on the door gives the number 212-721-0068 to call for February reservations, then asks for no solicitations or gifts. Unusual? Not when you consider the place is owned by Joe Germanotta, father and business partner of one of the biggest pop stars in history.
Rather than relaxing in his expansive Upper West Side apartment, Joe has been at the 68th Street construction site almost every day for the past several months.
“I’m most concerned about not meeting the date,’’ he said of the projected opening, initially scheduled as a Thanksgiving gathering for family and friends, then pushed back to a pre-Christmas dinner and now set for the middle of this month. Dressed in his current daily uniform of jeans, a sweatshirt and baseball cap, he surveys the late 19th century townhouse space, as sparks flying from welding irons and buzz saws make him barely audible. “I think I’ll make it if all the equipment gets here, but I have to work again tomorrow – on Sunday."
Though the father – and business partner - of Lady GaGa hardly needs to spend seven days a week working with a crew, or sending out tweets like “What is the best way to strip 5 coats of paint from brick?” his is clearly a family ruled by passions.
“It’s my dream to own a restaurant,’’ he said. He invested in Vince and Eddie’s, but when the owner filed for bankruptcy, he decided to take the place over; then brought in his elder daughter – along with her friend and Oprah’s former chef, Art Smith, as his only partners. “We thought we could come in and not do much more than give it a good cleaning,’’ he explains. “But as we started peeling away grime, things started leaking that weren’t supposed to be leaking, and falling that weren’t supposed to be falling."
Despite the challenges - a hood that didn’t fit in the front door had to be carried around the back and shimmied through the garden entrance – it’s only been a couple months, and stone tiles, an open kitchen and a wood-burning oven have already transformed the space. Joanne will serve a price fixed traditional Italian menu - everything from chicken scarpariello to wood stone roasted fish - in the dining room, and a la carte options in the bar area up front.
“It’s very much inspired by family,’’ says Germanotta, whose wife Cynthia is there to help with the project. The couple’s second daughter, 19-year-old Parsons student, Natali has created a piece of art that will go on a wall and worked with her mother selecting tiles and colors for the room. “My daughters grew up at the kitchen table and they are both great cooks. Sunday dinners were always a gathering, and when we said be home for dinner, they dropped everything. Stefani still does. She hosted a Thanksgiving special - Lady GaGa – it’s odd for me to call her that and I don’t usually do it – ran home right after."
The Germanottas live just a few blocks from the restaurant and are unusually warm and unguarded, considering. Apart from Cynthia’s slightly funky cat-eye glasses, there is nothing avant-garde in their appearance. “Our kids are both artistic,’’ he shrugs. “Someone just said to us, ‘I guess you have good DNA.'"
Like most parents, the Germanottas were concerned about their daughters as they grew up. “Stefani started dressing differently when she was young,’’ says Cynthia. “But she wore a school uniform, so from 8 to 3 we knew we were good."
“She thought she looked cute,’’ smiles Joe. “I thought she looked too mature and I was always worried about her getting attacked, but I never held my daughters back.’"
His daughters' edgy outfits did cause her to get picked on, according to Joe. “That was tough, but it was also the impetus for her Born This Way foundation, which helps kids who are bullied. My wife is the president, and I am the treasurer."
Though he has been famously supportive of her career, he recalls a night at Joe’s Pub when she lit a can of hairspray on fire during a performance. “It was like Alice Cooper,’’ he sighs. “I said ‘We have to rein her in!’"
Life has certainly changed for the Germanottas.
“I still wake up and say to my wife, ‘Is this real? Where did this come from?’’’ says Joe. “At this point I realize it’s not going away."
Of course fulfilling his fantasy of opening a charming neighborhood restaurant comes with the ups and downs of celebrity. “There will be some fans,’’ shrugs Joe. “Stefani’s been coming through spontaneously. She will eat here and critique it. She loves to cook and makes pasta with wonderful fennel gravy. But the date I dread is when she walks into the kitchen. She’s left-handed and every time I watch her chop, it makes me cringe."
I Stan For :
Queen of Pop : Lady Gaga | Legendary Band : Evanescence
The Metal Princes : Avenged Sevenfold | Spitfire Rapper : Machine Gun Kelly
Queen of Industrial : Porcelain Black | Princess of Soul : Adele
| Legends : Maroon 5
The Voice : Christina Aguilera | Goddess of Pop : Madonna | Alternative Princess : Lana Del Rey |Talented Rockman : Phillip Phillips
MICHAEL JACKSON The King of Pop
Over 750 Million Records Sold | 17 #1 Singles | 736 + Presidential Awards Won | CAREER Lasting 4 Decades | Most Successful Artist Ever | Influenced Millions |31 GUINNESS World Records| Greatest Performer Ever | Ultimate Icon/Legend | Best Selling Album Ever |
~Humanitarian :Donated over $300 million to charities
~Most Iconic Dance Ever : Moonwalk