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The who's who at the opening of the Clift Hotel

Wednesday, Aug 8 2001
L.A. by the Bay Unlike any of "hip hotelier" Ian Schrager's other properties, the Clift Hotel's new bar, our old-now-new Redwood Room, won't have a door policy. Says Schrager, "San Franciscans won't stand for it." But apparently the hotel's opening bash on July 31 was the exception: Attempted party crashers were turned away at the door, which was guarded not only by PR folks with a checklist but also by private security. Those who did make the cut crammed into the redone room, the shockingly transformed lobby, and the adjoining wood-paneled Asia de Cuba restaurant for the kind of high-caliber fete rarely seen in these parts.

Past the army of black-clad valets, press, and door staff, the likes of society regulars Bella Farrow, Ann Getty, Harry Denton, Bix owner Doug Beiderbeck, and Gavin Newsom and assistant DA/fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle mingled as magnums of Laurent-Perrier and air kisses flowed freely. Socialite Denise Hale, who arrived with Cartier manager Wes Carroll, shimmied out of the lobby for a personal first-floor tour by restaurant GM Joel Spalding. Danielle Steel, who held court at a cluster of couches immediately dubbed "The Summit," looked very tan and fashionable as she cooed, "I'm just happy to get out and see people." But the real eye-catcher was the rock weighing down one of her rings, which one guest aptly described as the size of a playing card. Local club maven Dr. Winkie was jovial but tight-lipped about an upcoming local restaurant/club project. Barry Bonds slipped in after the game and chatted with Willie Brown.

Most everybody seemed thrilled to brush up against big-time celebrities. Jefferson Starship's Paul Kantner and Quills director Phil Kaufman made appearances. Elizabeth Hurley, who couldn't be bothered with that silly no-smoking law, lit up in the dining room. And Kyle MacLachlan -- engaged, he admits, although he's yet to purchase the ring -- dropped by on his way to a wine country weekend. Local celebrity party planner Stanlee Gatti blushed when he collided with a cocktail tray filled with champagne glasses. Several of the male guests commented on the attractive cocktail staff, only to find that the servers were imported for the event from L.A.'s Skybar. Local DJ Consuelo offered anything but the old room's jazz piano, and was accompanied at the turntable by Rosanna Arquette, who DJ'ed for Schrager 20 years ago at Studio 54. Moby, who was staying at the hotel, was rumored to be stopping by for some time on the tables, but he didn't make an appearance; likewise for Salman Rushdie, spotted in the lobby the day before. Perhaps neither made the guest list.

42 Degrees of Separation Harry had heard that James Moffat, chef/owner of 42 Degrees, had moved back into the kitchen, but that since the nearby Esprit outlet was for sale the restaurant was selling as well. Moffat says the rumor is untrue. He explains, "It's one of those things that starts because they read that Esprit is selling. We are next door, and the next thing you know we are selling with them."

On the Fly GM Maureen Donegan of Mission's Butterfly announced the arrival of Executive Chef Robert Lamb from Brannan's Grill in Calistoga. The new menu will be in full swing by mid-August. Lamb plans to add small, family-style plates in the $4 to $26 range.

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Harry Coverte


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