John McDonald, 38, Pushes 44

44 used to have a certain crowd …

In the heyday, I think, the first five years, it was very heavy on media and fashion people.

Tina Brown used to hang out there.

And Anna Wintour.

Where have those folks been going in the interim?

That’s a good question. I think there’s a void. We gave a tour the other day to a bunch of the women at Vogue who came through for a preview. And they loved it.

The guy who was overseeing the Royalton makeover [former Morgans Hotel CEO Ed Scheetz] has been in the papers a lot lately after his girlfriend was found dead in his Las Vegas hotel room. How did that impact the project?

It was already done. I don’t even know enough about [the Las Vegas incident] to put perspective on it. He was doing a good job of maintaining the place post-Schrager. I know he did a couple of good deals in Vegas. It’s a good company.

Back to restaurants, Zagat’s and Michelin Ratings took a lot of flack last week.

I did well, so I can’t complain.

Zagat’s, in particular, seems to be very focused on the cost of meals at your places. Lure Fishbar: “high price tag.” Lever House: “‘corporate-card’ crowd.” Chinatown Brasserie: “double the price of Chinatown.” Why so pricey?

Look, we provide a very high-quality product. If they tag it that way, it’s O.K.