Le Cirque opened its doors in 1974 and quickly became a hotspot for the rich and famous

By Ally Mauch
April 21, 2020 08:33 AM
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Sirio Maccioni
Credit: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Italian-born restaurateur Sirio Maccioni, best known for opening New York City’s Le Cirque, has died at 88.

Maccioni died at the family’s villa in Tuscany early Monday from the effects of a stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, his son Mauro told The Associated Press.

Prior to opening Le Cirque in 1974, Maccioni began working as the maître d’ at The Colony in New York while studying at Hunter College.

Le Cirque, originally located at the Mayfair Hotel, attracted famous chefs, such as Geoffrey Zakarian, David Bouley, Jacque Torres and Daniel Boulud, who ran the kitchen for six years between 1986 and 1992.

Though the high-class restaurant earned top marks for its food, it was perhaps better known for its star-studded crowd. Political and social icons, including Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Nancy and Ronald Reagan, Diana Ross, Princess Grace, and Frank Sinatra were known to frequent Le Cirque.

Sirio Maccioni
Maccioni (center) with Le Cirque staff in 1990
| Credit: Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Le Cirque endured several moves throughout its tenure in New York, but closed its doors for good in 2017. Maccioni opened other outposts of Le Cirque in Las Vegas, Dubai and several cities in India, as well as sister restaurants, named Circo, in New York, Dallas and Abu Dhabi.

In 2014, Maccioni received The James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

Many famous chefs who worked under Maccioni paid tribute to the late restaurateur Monday.

“I owe him all the respect and admiration for all that he did for me and my career as a chef,” Boulud, who went on to run a multiple Michelin-starred restaurant, wrote of Maccioni in an Instagram post. “No one in the business was more elegant, savvy, and confident in running the dining room of #lecirque. Sirio always gave me a lot of energy to cook my heart out in the kitchen. He gave me the chance to learn how to be a great chef, and a great host.”

Torres, a pastry chef who now owns a chain of eponymous chocolate shops, said Maccioni gave him “the ability & platform to show my craft.”

“There will never be another like you,” Torres said in a Tweet.

Maccioni is survived by his wife, Egidiana, and their three sons, Mario, Marco and Mauro.