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When do "Regulars" Eat?


chefboy24
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for many of us with jobs, its the only night that we can go out with friends or a date. that whole three hour meal when you leave the office at 9 and have to get up early in the morning doesn't seem so appealing.

with that said, I agree that those are amateur nights in NY....the restaurants become half tourists and B&T, service isn't as good, etc...but that doesn't change the logistical reality.

edit: one friend of mine works the European markets. she gets up at 5 a.m. during the week. when is she supposed to eat dinner with her friends (who generally have the more normal NY schedule of 9 or 10 to 8 or 9)?

Edited by Nathan (log)
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well, when you have the kind of money it takes to be a "regular" at a four star restaurant...you often don't really work for a living anymore.

but for normal NY'ers with some discretionary income (lawyers, bankers and other professionals), 60-80 work weeks are pretty standard.

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why go out on a friday or saturday night in the first place?

amateur night

I echo what Nathan says. For most working folks in this town, Friday and Saturday nights offer the only real opportunity for a leisurely night out, especially at the nicer restaurants where you want to spend a few hours relaxing over your meal.

It doesn't really matter to me who is occupying the other tables.

all of the high end restaurants i've worked in .......... "regulars" come in on a tuesday or wednesday night.

That's not what FG's research says.
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I always thought of Rao's as practically a private club for its regulars.

Between 7 and 9:30pm on a Friday or Saturday night, tons of restaurants are practically private clubs for their regulars.

Except that Rao's (so I've heard) is like that at all hours they're open, every day of the week.
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why go out on a friday or saturday night in the first place?

amateur night

i'm curious, and you seem to be plugged in to the industry so maybe you'd know: does the staff treat guests differently on Friday and Saturday nights because they're assumed to be "amateurs"? I'm certainly no "amateur", but I do tend to go out on Friday and Saturday nights for reasons already stated here. I would like to know if I should be expecting special treatment on a Friday or Saturday night at Felidia, since the staff considers it "amateur night". Different food? A different experience in general?

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you're going to get a different experience on the weekends, I understand that.

the restaurant is more crowded, the staff are more harried (more customers, weekend warriors, guys being assholes to impress their dates, people clueless about fine dining, the chicken and salmon orderers, etc.)...

so I understand that the experience might not be optimal. but I'm still paying full price, I still should be able to expect a good performance out of the restaurant. not all of their diners on weekend nights (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) are one-timers.

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Of course regulars dine out on weekend nights. That's who occupies the coveted 7-9:30pm tables.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Outside of professional restaurant reviewers I don't know too many "professional" diners. As much as I might wish that I did, I don't get paid to dine out, so that certainly makes me an amateur, though I consider myself a reasonably experienced one. Besides. I don't really care if the diners are amateurs so long as the BOH and FOH are not. :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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Of course regulars dine out on weekend nights. That's who occupies the coveted 7-9:30pm tables.

i mean this is just ridiculous. it's just wrong.

tourists and bridge and tunnel crowds dine on friday/saturday

i have a LOT of investment banker friends, including my partner, a *retired* morgan stanley managing director. big dinners happen tuesday-thursday. fact.

and i can tell you for sure, last night i didn't sell one bottle over $100.

tuesday night? sold some soldera 1995, bryant family 97, conterno, giacosa, you name it. i never sell this stuff on a weekend. NEVER EVER.

yes, i get it, professionals work 60-80 hours a week. me too.

this has been my experience as a captain at gotham, dona, and now as a sommelier at felidia.

and for the silly idea that top restaurants block off 8 pm tables on a friday/saturday night?

http://www.opentable.com/promo.aspx?m=8&pid=210

a list of michelin star restaurants

try making a saturday night 8 pm reservation on feb 9th

you can, right now, get a 8 pm deuce reservation at :

Anthos, cafe gray, danube, devi, dressler, fleur de sel, jojo, oceana, vong

and 7:30 at:

anissa, bouley, cru, saul, wallse, wd50

i'm not trying to be arguementative, these are just the facts.

and no, we don't treat people differently on weekends. for me personally, i don't care if you are B&T, a regular, a celeb, a VIP, a first time.....if you are nice to me, i'll be nice to you. difficult people tend to not get a lot of perks, but that's not really news is it?

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why go out on a friday or saturday night in the first place?

amateur night

i'm curious, and you seem to be plugged in to the industry so maybe you'd know: does the staff treat guests differently on Friday and Saturday nights because they're assumed to be "amateurs"? I'm certainly no "amateur", but I do tend to go out on Friday and Saturday nights for reasons already stated here. I would like to know if I should be expecting special treatment on a Friday or Saturday night at Felidia, since the staff considers it "amateur night". Different food? A different experience in general?

i'm not speaking for my restaurant, at all.

i am proud of my service and style in the dining room.

you will get the same great food and service any night.

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We are regulars here at a couple of restaurants that are our absolute favorites. They don't really know our names, but they sure know our faces and our eating/interaction/tipping style.

Weekends here are like most cities: busy. Date night, business socials, wheeling and dealing etc. I like to go on a Thursday. The produce is coming in for the weekend so I get specials offered before they are really out on Friday night, I get better attention, no pressure to turn the table or bar (sushi), and just more leisurely interaction with all involved. I am much more likely to get a comp amuse and such on a quieter night as well.

Works for us. And if I am dropping that kind of money, I would much rather joke with the staff, talk with the chef, relax with my family and such.

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Of course regulars dine out on weekend nights. That's who occupies the coveted 7-9:30pm tables.

i mean this is just ridiculous. it's just wrong.

tourists and bridge and tunnel crowds dine on friday/saturday

Phil, in my personal experience of being a regular at several of the best restaurants in New York over the years -- Lespinasse, Gramercy Tavern, Bouley, Nobu, the Modern, ADNY -- I can tell you that not only have I dined at those restaurants, as a regular, on many Friday and Saturday nights, but also that I saw plenty of the other regulars there on those nights. I've worked at law firms and and an investment bank and been out many times, on weekends, with people at the highest levels of those firms. In addition, I spent many days with reservationists and restaurant managers at a range of restaurants when I was researching my book. I saw, time and again, the grayed-out prime-time tables on the book that only managers could open up. This was true on weekends as well as weekdays.

There's a subset of business regulars who you don't see out on weekend nights: the ones who live in the suburbs and commute to work in the city. They'll typically dine out on the weekday nights, and at lunches, because that's when they don't have to make a special trip into town. Weekends they often spend at home. Also, on summer weekends a lot of the well-to-do Manhattan regulars go out of town. But the Manhattan residents who are regulars at Manhattan restaurants? During the rest of the year, they go out on weekends. The don't just sit home watching TV. Even those who hypothetically prefer to go on quiet Tuesdays -- and I count myself among that number -- wind up going on weekends for a variety of reasons: that's when their friends are available, that's what the school schedule allows, that's when they can stay out late without having to get up and go to work the next day, etc.

In terms of restaurants blocking out tables for regulars, if the demand is there they do it. Some do it with nearly 100% of their prime tables. Some do it with 50%. It depends what they need. Needless to say, Jo Jo and Vong (and most of the places on that list of examples) don't have that problem. They only need to hold back a couple of tables, just in case.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The majority of business dinners are Monday thru Thursday nights. I have gone on a fair number of those meals. There are some people (though not me) who have them almost every night. The hosts (i.e., the ones paying) are generally less knowledgeable about food than most eGullet Society members. However, they tend to be fairly savvy about wine. Regardless of their food/wine knowledge, they often dine in larger parties and spend lavishly. I can see why a server would love those customers. They aren't necessarily smarter about food, but they come in with big wads of cash.

Yes, Friday and Saturday nights attract the B&T and tourist crowd. But they also attract people like me who work fairly long hours and don't have the time (or the energy) for a leisurely restaurant meal after work—at least, not on a regular basis. However, I can see why servers would view me as a less desirable customer. I'm usually not out to impress anybody when I'm spending my own money. I can afford to dine comfortably, but not to order as if money is no object. I might order the big Barolo on a special occasion, but I don't do so routinely.

As FG noted, the Michelin star restaurants still showing available prime-time tables on Saturday, February 9th, are simply those not lucky enough to have a steady flow of regulars. If you can book those restaurants for prime-time on Saturday, you can probably book them for just about any night. At most good restaurants I've tried to book, Saturday is the toughest night to get, with Friday running second.

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It depends on your town, and the restaurant. Here in DC, many "expense account" restaurants are not as busy on Friday or Saturday as they are during the week because everyone who was here for business has left town on Friday.

On the other hand, my wife and I regularly eat out locally any day of the week, but are more likely to take the trip downtown (we live in the burbs, I work downtown, she works out in the burbs, both of us are senior level Feds) on Saturday. It is just too much hassle for to get home from downtown, then turn around and go back, when both of us have to get up early to go to work.

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