MIAMI BEACH — After desperately trying to keep it a secret, famed Miami Beach restaurateur Barton G. admitted today he was injured in a freak fall much more seriously that his publicist claimed three months ago — but, he says, he’s feeling well enough to return to work Nov. 29.
“I was paralyzed,” he told Gossip Extra in an exclusive interview from a physical rehab facility near Atlanta. “It was a very upsetting, traumatic experience to be lying there.
“But the good news is I’m responding well to therapy and I’ll be home on time for Thanksgiving, then back to work the day after.”
The entrepreneur, whose real name is Barton G. Weiss, said he suffered a spinal cord injury in a “trip-and-fall” at the home of his girlfriend on Long Island, N.Y. in August.
“It’s one of these cases when you think you can jump an obstacle and you figure out too late you can’t.
“I had serious back surgery a few years ago, so it made it worse. Doctors didn’t think I was going to be able to walk again. I’m almost back to normal. My left leg is still paralyzed but I have regained the use of my other extremities.
“I’m extremely lucky.”
After a brief patch-up job in New York hours after the accident, he was flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Incidentally, Weiss has been a hospital donor and supporter over the years.
“There’s quite a difference between charity work for a hospital and being a patient there for weeks,” he said.
He spent two months at the Miami facility before moving again to the Shepherd Center in Georgia, a clinic specialized in spinal cord rehab.
Weiss says he’s using a wheelchair, but he believes he could be walking again within six months.
He will continue his physical rehabilitation at Jackson as an out-patient.
The creative genius behind the original West Avenue Barton G. eatery and nationwide catering business has had his house on Sunset Isle altered to make his daily routine more comfortable, including a wheelchair ramp.
Days after the accident Charlie Cinnamon, Weiss’ publicist, put out a short statement that read: “Event impresario and restaurateur Barton G. recently sustained an injury in New York, is on the mend and looking forward to the soon-to-be announced opening Barton G. L.A. As always, it’s business as usual.”
Actually, the opening of the new West Hollywood restaurant has been put on hold until February but Weiss says he’s got 14 other eateries throughout the country in the works. And there’s The Big Dish, a series of cookbooks he penned coming out.
Known for off-beat menus that include lobster pop tarts and Boarnie Madoff Bucket of Bones, Weiss comes up with unique dish presentation that often include smoke and sparklers and a light show.
His mac-and-cheese, for example, has been served on a plate made to look like a giant mousetrap.