Inside Move: Lean in Paris

Star eateries starving as Parisians bite bullet

With its cool pastel decor and a wacky menu that included Chicken in Coca Cola, the Korova was one of Paris’ most fashionable restaurants.

Likewise the Japanese-inspired Nobu, part of the restaurant chain in which Robert De Niro is a partner, a few doors further down Paris’ bustling rue Marbeuf.

But the two celeb-centric eateries are in deep trouble.

Both filed for the French equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection recently — amid accusations of mismanagement — along with the trendiest patisserie in Paris: Pierre Herme.

All three establishments have a shareholder in common, ubiquitous TV presenter/ producer Jean-Luc Delarue, whose success in the TV biz has apparently proved more difficult to replicate in the risky business of upmarket restauranting.

But Delarue and his partners tried. At the height of its popularity, the Korova is said to have lavished $30,000 worth of free meals every month on the Paris jet set — a sure-fire way of upping its celebrity quotient. And Nobu employed a cast of thousands to pamper its clientele.

But the ongoing economic slump, coupled with Parisians’ aversion to shelling out a fortune for a plate of sushi, took their toll.

A telephone call to the Korova went unanswered, but Nobu was still open for business last week.

“We’re full every night,” says one staffer, citing Penelope Cruz and Monica Bellucci among the restaurant’s regulars.

Fortunately, Delarue is a better TV businessman. His Reservoir Productions supplies primetime programming to all of the major French networks and posted a profit of e7 million last year.