Keith McNally was born in London and moved to New York in 1975. He immediately distinguished himself by being fired from his first 3 jobs.

In 1980, McNally - along with two partners - opened his first restaurant, The Odeon. This was followed by Café Luxembourg (1993), Nell's (1986) and Lucky Strike (1989).

In 1996, McNally built Pravda, a Russian caviar and vodka bar. This was followed by Balthazar Bakery and Balthazar Restaurant in 1997. Pastis opened in 1999, followed by Schiller's Liquor Bar in 2003, Morandi in 2007, Minetta Tavern in 2009, and Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria in 2010.

McNally has also written and directed two feature films. He has 5 children and lives with his family in the West Village.