Toney Edwards is Texas born, raised and educated. He built the famous Austin hangout, Les Amis, while still attending the University of Texas in the mid-60s, which finally closed in 1999 after 34 successful years. But once he got a whiff of New York City while attending Yale Graduate School, he never looked back. At Le Madeleine, he has one of the longest tenures of restaurant ownership in New York City.
After a four-day inspirational ‘New Year’s 1978′ visit to Paris, Le Madeleine – the scalloped simple cookie which evoked so much for Proust – was conceived by Edwards. The original space was 20′ by 40’, which included a small garden out back. With only 17 seats, a pastry case and small stainless steel table for the leased espresso machine, meats were cooked at Toney’s apartment down the block and other foods and pastries were gathered by taxi from the kitchens of several chefs of fine New York restaurants.
As early partners and friends dropped out or went on to other ventures, Le Madeleine – along with the neighborhood – evolved and expanded. The garden became glass-enclosed, a kitchen (recently renovated) was built, a beautiful zinc bar was added and lovely murals were painted by artist/friend, Pierre Hitier. In 1997, Edwards hired the inventive and innovative chef, Bruce Beaty, who was a veteran of the kitchens of Alfred Portale (Gotham Bar & Grill), Gilbert Le Coze (Le Bernardin) and Jonathan Waxman (Jams). Under Beaty’s direction, and in collaboration with Edwards, Le Madeleine has risen to greater gastronomic heights.
Today Le Madeleine is a mainstay of the theater district and Edwards is one of Manhattan’s veteran restaurateurs. He may be found on-premise greeting and seating his guests and tweaking Le Madeleine’s wine list, which was recently awarded the coveted “Award of Excellence” from the Wine Spectator.