The Washington Post

Carol Joynt, former Nathans of Georgetown owner, and the men in her surprising new memoir

Carol Ross Joynt in D.C. last year. (David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

So what will the many people in Joynt’s orbit make of her new memoir? Not only does “Innocent Spouse” expose betrayal upon betrayal by her late husband, Howard Joynt — a sad story whose outlines are already known to many Washingtonians — Joynt also surprises with some amazing kiss-and-tell dish:

• Her affair with a married NYC chef.

• Her dates with ex-MLB star Keith Hernandez.

• Her marriage proposal from none other than Walter Cronkite.

Will her friends be shocked? “I guess I hope so,” Joynt, 60, told us. “What I’m saying is, this is what it was really like, and if you’ve got secrets, don’t be afraid of them.”

(Crown Publishing)

(Read the Washington Post Style section 1999 profile of Carol Joynt and her struggles running Nathans.)

But, ah, the glamorous namedrops, thick on the ground in this book. Elvis Presley, the Princess of Wales, Tariq Aziz, Monica Lewinsky and Mark Walhberg all play cameos. Unnamed but well-described: “Paolo,” her pseudonym for the married, motorcycle-riding, wire-rimmed-glasses-wearing French-Italian chef she fools around with in her first year of widowhood. If we knew more about hot Manhattan restaurants of the late ’90s, we could probably ID him. Does that worry her? “I don’t know! It’s a risk. My lips are sealed, and I know his are too.”

Joynt interviewing Dan Rather in a "Q&A Cafe" hosted at Nathans in 2007. (Ellen Schreiber)

More poignant is Cronkite, Joynt’s former boss and longtime friend and protector, who, a couple of years before his death, unexpectedly proposed, offering to take care of her and her son, Spencer. Joynt describes it as “an overture of friendship,” not romance. “Since he lost [his wife] Betsy, he thought we were in the same boat.”

Joynt and her son Spencer at Nathans’ closing night in July 2009. (Amy Argetsinger/The Washington Post)

Searching our Post gossip archives — hey, wait, she dated Fred Thompson! Why isn't he in the book? Because, Joynt said, the ex-senator just wasn’t really part of The Journey. “You talk about everyone, and then it does become a tell-all.”


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