Peter Luger Steakhouse

PR people shouldn’t fret too much over the reputational hit suffered by iconic Peter Luger Steakhouse, which received a blistering zero-star October 29 review by New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells.

Luger’s PR is in good hands.

Wells knocked the Brooklyn eatery for feasting off past glories. He rapped it for being staffed by overworked and surly waiters who dish out run-of-the-mill, inconsistently prepared and overpriced food (e.g., $229.80 porterhouse for four).

“And after I’ve paid, there is the unshakeable sense that I’ve been scammed,” wrote Wells, who wondered why anybody really needs to go to Luger.


Who does Luger call? How about New York City’s iconic PR man, Howard Rubenstein, and his crackerjack team of publicists?

The 87-year-old Rubenstein still chairs Rubenstein Strategic Communications, which he launched in 1954.

During his legendary career, Rubenstein represented George Steinbrenner, Archdiocese of New York, Metropolitan Opera, Ron Perelman, Rupert Murdoch, Museum of Modern Art, Mount Sinai Hospital, Leona Helmsley and Donald Trump.

Pete Wells, no problem.

Rubenstein married Amy Forman, whose family owns Luger, in 1959. Their son Steven is president of RSC, and the other son Richard runs Rubenstein PR. There’s always an open table at Luger’s for Rubenstein’s clients.

My hunch is that Luger's reputation will soon be on the PR mend.

The pushback started the same day as the Times hit in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.

The story was headlined: “Peter Luger owners rip brutal, zero-star New York Times review.” The Post quoted Luger co-owner Jody Storch saying: “We know who we are and have always been. The best steak you can eat. Not the latest kale salad.”

Fox News picked up the Post story today and CBS News ran Luger’s statement about being reviewed by the NYT over the years, sometimes earning four stars, other times less.

“Lugers has always focused on doing one thing exceptionally well — serving the highest quality of steak – with a member of our family buying every piece of USDA Prime beef individually, just as we have done for decades,” Luger's management said in a statement to CBS.

Anybody hungry?