Saturday, May 8, 2010

Where I've Got Nothing To Complain About. Or, It Pays To Know.

There are many things in my life I am thankful for. There are many things in my life I am frustrated about. But one facet of life I have totally under control is getting wicked comps and VIP treatment at one of the busiest celebrity-chef run restaurants south of 14th Street.

The scene is Bustling Restaurant, Friday night, 9:00 pm. Dinner service is in full swing. Those without reservations are waiting about an hour and a half for a table, and there is a wait-list to sit at the bar. I had made a 9:45 reservation for my bestie and me to have some bonding time, but we showed up early hoping to sit at the bar. After checking in with the hostess, we head to packed bar. And this is where the magic happens.

I wave at the two bartenders, big smiles all around- I am very friendly with both of these gentlemen. I'm particularly chummy with the older one (I estimate age 55), who has been serving me at this restaurant bar since I moved into the city. Although my best girl had been informed that the bar wait-list was going, we were seated as soon as the next set of seats opened at the bar because the younger bartender slightly lifted his chin to me, and darted his eyes at the men getting up from their seats. The 2 women who assumed they'd be sitting next looked really confused watching us take their seats, knowing that they hadn't watched us wait. Jumping the line? Sexy.

We were then started off, no questions asked, with some bubbly. Chitchat with the two bartenders ensued, as did unordered appetizers. Free drink and food? Sexy.

But why the special treatment for little, underemployed me? I tip nicely and go a lot, but I am in no way a high roller, so why give me free stuff?

Because we're friends now. I befriended the older bartender quickly, regularly drinking and dining during the daytime in his Thursday double. He'd be just getting started and I, at 3 had just ended my torturous breakfast shifts of 6 am - 2 pm. I'd tell stories about my day- he knows about where I work, he's served (my) Chef for years at this bar, and I think he likes that an outgoing 24 year old girl would happily shoot the shit about the industry with a well-seasoned, middle-aged vet like him. And I loved talking about the menu, the wine, the tastes, the ideas, in my geekiest food-loving glory. And that's when he started giving me stuff for free. The more regularly I would go, the more he and I developed our strange bond- sometimes he'll even let himself complain about a costumer or two, and then brush it off and tell me about a new wine on the list. Other times, he'll pry me for stories from work and make fun of me for the rookie mistakes I make. I ask about his daughter (my age), and he recognizes my mom, my brother, and my bff when I bring them in. I go alone a lot at quiet times in the service- late afternoons particularly, after lunch rush but way before dinner.

I try to only go when he's working...Maybe I know his schedule...oops.

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