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Lady Gaga's Dad Opening New Eatery with Celeb Chef Art Smith

By Leslie Albrecht | October 26, 2011 1:18pm
Lady Gaga and her father, Joe Germanotta, at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in January 2010.
Lady Gaga and her father, Joe Germanotta, at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in January 2010.
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Lester Cohen/WireImage

UPPER WEST SIDE — Lady Gaga's father is reopening the West 68th Street restaurant his famous daughter invested in, but the "Born this Way" singer isn't the only big name linked to the new eatery.

Celebrity chef Art Smith, who's cooked for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, will craft the restaurant's menu, Joe Germanotta told DNAinfo Wednesday.

Germanotta said he expects the new incarnation of the restaurant, first reported by Grub Street, to have a soft opening around Thanksgiving and officially open by December. The restaurant, to be named Joanne after his late sister, will take over the space formerly occupied by Vince & Eddie's.

Gaga and her parents, who live a couple of blocks from the restaurant, invested in Vince & Eddie's, but the star power couldn't keep the restaurant afloat. It closed abruptly after 23 years in business in March 2011.

Vince & Eddie's, the restaurant that Lady Gaga invested in, closed in March. Now Gaga's dad, Joe Germanotta, is opening a new eatery in the space, to be named Joanne.
Vince & Eddie's, the restaurant that Lady Gaga invested in, closed in March. Now Gaga's dad, Joe Germanotta, is opening a new eatery in the space, to be named Joanne.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

Some employees later sued Vince & Eddie's owner, Peter DiGiuseppe, claiming they were owed unpaid wages. The outcome of the case was not immediately clear.

Germanotta said he's the owner of Joanne, but declined to say whether Lady Gaga, who real name is Stefani Germanotta, is putting any of her cash into the venture. He doesn't plan to advertise his mega-star daughter's connection to the restaurant, he said.

"She'll eat here, that's all," Germanotta said.

Diners at Joanne may be just as interested in the catching a glimpse of celeb chef Smith as they are in spotting the best-selling "Poker Face" singer.

Smith, who was Winfrey's personal chef for 10 years, has appeared on the TV show "Top Chef Masters." Known for his Southern-style cooking, he owns Table Fifty-Two in Chicago, Art and Soul in Washington, D.C., and LYFE Kitchen in Palto Alto, Calif. This month he opened Southern Art and Bourbon Bar in Atlanta.

Germanotta, 54, ran a high-speed Internet company called GuestWiFi that recently merged with Spot On Networks. He hasn't worked in the restaurant business before, though he has a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Michigan State University.

Germanotta said he and Smith have been friends for years. "When this opportunity presented itself, he jumped on it," Germanotta said.

Germanotta will manage the front of the restaurant and oversee day-to-day operations, while Smith will guide the kitchen.

As for decor, Germanotta is renovating the old Vince & Eddie's space, but preserving some elements like the brick fireplaces and open kitchen. Joanne will have a full bar and will be open for lunch and dinner seven days-a-week, with brunch on the weekends, Germanotta said.

The menu is still in the works, but Germanotta said Joanne will serve "family dinner" Italian food, possibly with a prix fixe menu featuring entrees that change daily based on which ingredients are available fresh at the market.

"It's not going to be flashy," Germanotta said. "It's somewhere in between homey and fine dining."