If Jewish billionaire Stewart Rahr gets a hankering for sushi, he’s going to have to look somewhere other than Nobu. Rahr has been banned for life from the famed eatery after allegedly trying to snag his favorite table by paying off diners and swearing at a manager.
"He said he would kill me,” the manager, Sharon Hofstetter, said of Rahr’s fit at Nobu Fifty Seven in Midtown Manhattan.
Rahr, 66, then fired off a seething e-mail to Nobu boss Drew Nieporent demanding Hofstetter be fired or reprimanded. In the e-mail – which was cc’d to such Hollywood heavyweights as Leonardo DiCaprio, Alicia Keys, and Mark Wahlberg – Rahr called Hofstetter “pompous,” “miserable,” and guilty of “despicable behavior.”
Rahr was notified by the restaurant that he was no longer welcome at Nobu Fifty Seven or at any of the other Nobu restaurants, which are co-owned by Nieporent, chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and Robert DeNiro. There are 25 Nobu locations worldwide, including three in New York City.
A Nobu staffer said Rahr arrived at the restaurant on Oct. 24 late, then marched up to a table and demanded the people sitting there leave because it was “his.” “They said no,” a bartender recalled, “so he offered to pay their bill” – which could have topped $1,000.
The next day, Rahr called and left a message for her. “I didn’t call him back right away, and that’s what I did,” she said. Rahr came to the eatery and confronted Hofstetter in person, leading to an expletive-laced tirade that left diners aghast. “I’ve never had that happen,” Hofstetter said. “Nobody has a table here other than Nobu and Robert De Niro,” according to Hofstetter.
“He spends a lot of money and it’s kind of like he thinks he owns this place,” said a Nobu waiter.
Rahr, who refers to himself as the “Stewie Rah Rah” and “No. 1 King of All Fun,” has run into trouble in the past. In 2005, he was kicked out of a fundraiser for Haiti in the Hamptons after forcing his way into photos with Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep. He has also feuded with Pierce Brosnan, George Lopez, and Tiger Woods.
According to Forbes, Rahr, a Brooklyn native, is the 330th richest American, and 879th richest person in the world with an estimated worth of $1.4 billion in 2011. Starting from his family-owned pharmacy business, Rahr expanded his business to a wholesale operation that served 4,000 pharmacies in the Northeast, with revenues of over $5 billion. He was the owner of pharmaceutical and generics wholesaler Kinray, which was the largest privately owned pharmaceutical distributor in the world. Kinray was bought out by Cardinal Health in 2010.
When he isn’t berating restaurant managers, he is actually very generous with his philanthropic efforts, having the distinction of being the largest individual donor in the world to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.