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Fat Guy

Reservations and Regulars at Momos and

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Oakapple is right: it's another example of the "New Paradigm".

Is it possible to run a restaurant in a way that isn't, in some fundamental sense, corrupt? (And yes, I view unpublicized preferential treatment for VIPs as in some sense corrupt -- even though I'm a frequent beneficiary of such treatment.)

Maybe it is possible and maybe it isn't. But I don't see why anyone would criticize a place for trying it. To me, that's just as hidebound and narrowminded as criticizing a place for not having backs on its chairs, or silverware, or a clear ordering sequence, or a consistently "haute" menu.

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And somewhere in the city, David Chang reads this and chuckles to himself...


"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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I think that people who EXPECT special treatment should go fuck themselves.

Echo.

I absolutely expect special treatment when I spend thousands of dollars at a restaurant over a period of years. Any restaurant that doesn't give that to me doesn't get my business for long. The idea that it's somehow morally superior to treat all customers the same is risible.

People who have supported Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar with thousands of dollars worth of business should be given priority in reservations at Ko. I'm not really among those people -- I'm a third-tier regular and special treatment for me consists of Cory saying "hi Steven" and giving me some ham to taste -- but were I among those people I'd be pissed if I couldn't get into Ko.

Somebody please explain how that justifies telling me and everybody like me to go fuck ourselves.

As for the definitions of bias being propagated here, I have a few extra dictionaries I'd be happy to send around. Again, Chang is not implementing a democracy, fighting nepotism, or ridding the world of bias. He's advocating for an egalitarian model. We'll see how that works. If history is any guide, most such experiments are failures.


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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People who have supported Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar with thousands of dollars worth of business should be given priority in reservations at Ko. I'm not really among those people -- I'm a third-tier regular and special treatment for me consists of Cory saying "hi Steven" and giving me some ham to taste -- but were I among those people I'd be pissed if I couldn't get into Ko.

I think it's well-established that Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar exist entirely apart from Ko. A regular at Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar shouldn't necessarily be entitled to special treatment at Ko (even if they do receive special treatment at the restaurant they do frequent) any more than a regular at ad hoc or Bouchon should be entitled to special treatment at The French Laundry, or per se. You think frequenting Bar Boulud gives one special rights to the tented table at Daniel?


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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To me, that's just as hidebound and narrow minded as criticizing a place for not having backs on its chairs, or silverware, or a clear ordering sequence, or a consistently "haute" menu.

What?! Shouldn't I be able to criticize a place for having uncomfortable chairs (at least, in my opinion) without being called hidebound or narrow minded.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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People who have supported Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar with thousands of dollars worth of business should be given priority in reservations at Ko. I'm not really among those people -- I'm a third-tier regular and special treatment for me consists of Cory saying "hi Steven" and giving me some ham to taste -- but were I among those people I'd be pissed if I couldn't get into Ko.

I think it's well-established that Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar exist entirely apart from Ko. A regular at Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar shouldn't necessarily be entitled to special treatment at Ko (even if they do receive special treatment at the restaurant they do frequent) any more than a regular at ad hoc or Bouchon should be entitled to special treatment at The French Laundry, or per se. You think frequenting Bar Boulud gives one special rights to the tented table at Daniel?

AND, the fact that Chang can do whatever he damn well pleases with Ko. I'm sure he doesn't need the lot of us to keep him afloat.

It's clear he wants Ko to be something different than Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar. Otherwise, he'd just open another Ssam Bar/Noodle Bar; I mean, those two are exemplary models that don't stand room for considerable improvement or need for changes.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I take it you disagreed with Reichl's method of reviewing Le Cirque?

you're describing the way most restaurants do things...its a business model that works for them.

there's no reason it has to be true for Ko.

I don't expect a restaurant to ever do anything...other than treat me fairly whether it's the first or the fiftieth time I've eaten there.

now purely from a business perspective, is it true that, all other things being equal (and that's a big if), I'm more likely to return to a place that comps me stuff or makes it easy to get into than a place that doesn't? of course, I'm human.

but, "special treatment" isn't something I feel entitled to. Yes, if there were two Kos and one gave me a special in...and one didn't...I'd more often patronize the one that did. who wouldn't? but, if there were two such Kos, and I'm in the vast majority of people who don't have an in..I'd know which one is more likely to get my business. and that's the model Chang has apparently chosen to follow. more power to him.

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What?! Shouldn't I be able to criticize a place for having uncomfortable chairs (at least, in my opinion) without being called hidebound or narrow minded.

What are you a reactionary? Embrace the new paradigm. Drink the Kool-aid.

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I absolutely expect special treatment when I spend thousands of dollars at a restaurant over a period of years.

When I spend money, I expect to get the food that I've paid for (nothing more).


Edited by spaetzle_maker (log)

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I obviously go more frequently to places that treat me well, but I would NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER stop going to a place just because they didn't give me special treatment as a regular.

I guess I really am not pushy and entitled enough to live in New York. (Maybe that's why I moved to Brooklyn all those years ago.)

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And of course ue is right. Ko is a separate restaurant from Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar. I eat a lot at Esca, and get treated very well there -- but I don't expect it to translate into tables at Babbo.

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I absolutely expect special treatment when I spend thousands of dollars at a restaurant over a period of years.

When I spend money, I expect to get the food that I've paid for (nothing more).

Well, we all expect to get what we pay for. I think it's a bit disingenuous to say that any number of regulars, at either of the older Momos, don't "expect" that they're gonna be thrown a dish or two...just read through the threads.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I absolutely expect special treatment when I spend thousands of dollars at a restaurant over a period of years.

When I spend money, I expect to get the food that I've paid for (nothing more).

So you don't expect a chair, a table, service, silverware or anything other than the food? When you go to a restaurant you pay for a package of goods and services. When you repeat your business at a restaurant you pay into a long-term relationship. Part of that relationship involves recognizing previous business. This isn't unique to restaurants. It's a basic tenet of service-oriented businesses.

When I go to somebody's home I'm thrilled to get whatever I'm given. When I pay to go to a restaurant I expect more.


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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Well, we all expect to get what we pay for. I think it's a bit disingenuous to say that any number of regulars, at either of the older Momos, don't "expect" that they're gonna be thrown a dish or two...just read through the threads.

We don't "expect" it.

We appreciate it.

The idea that I wouldn't have continued to patronize Ssam Bar if they didn't throw me comps is risible.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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What?! Shouldn't I be able to criticize a place for having uncomfortable chairs (at least, in my opinion) without being called hidebound or narrow minded.

What are you a reactionary? Embrace the new paradigm. Drink the Kool-aid.

Only if it's gelatinized and served in little balls.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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So if regulars and VIPs get first dibs, then how are us common folk supposed to eat at a 12 seat restaurant?

By waiting until the initial buzz dies down a bit, by taking the less desirable reservation times, by going once, going again and becoming a regular.


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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We don't "expect" it.

We appreciate it.

The idea that I wouldn't have continued to patronize Ssam Bar if they didn't throw me comps is risible.

And, to this end, even if Ssam Bar regulars *do* expect special treatment, the folks at Ssam Bar created that expectation with consistent comping, etc. At Ko, they clearly are not.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I obviously go more frequently to places that treat me well, but I would NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER stop going to a place just because they didn't give me special treatment as a regular.

"I obviously go more frequently to places that treat me well"

but

"I would NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER stop going to a place just because they didn't give me special treatment as a regular."

Given that you visit a finite number of restaurants per year, how can both statements be true?


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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We don't "expect" it.

We appreciate it.

The idea that I wouldn't have continued to patronize Ssam Bar if they didn't throw me comps is risible.

Sneak - no one ever said you wouldn't have continued to patronize the place, and "expect" may not be the right word, but it's a fact of life at the momos that regulars are frequently comped dishes, asked to taste dishes, or whatever.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I absolutely expect special treatment when I spend thousands of dollars at a restaurant over a period of years.

When I spend money, I expect to get the food that I've paid for (nothing more).

Well, we all expect to get what we pay for. I think it's a bit disingenuous to say that any number of regulars, at either of the older Momos, don't "expect" that they're gonna be thrown a dish or two...just read through the threads.

I'm not being disingenuous. I was going to Noodle Bar very, very regularly way before the Ssam Bar Soigne started because I loved the food and found the place to be homey. In those pre-ssam bar days, I think on rare occasions my drink at noodle bar would be comped. I thought it was a mistake so I was always adding in the cost of the drink - I didn't even realize that it was intended as a comp! I became a regular at Ssam Bar by extension of my positive feelings for Noodle Bar and because the food is just so damn good.


Edited by spaetzle_maker (log)

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QUOTE(Fat Guy @ Mar 12 2008, 05:24 PM

"I obviously go more frequently to places that treat me well"

but

"I would NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER [i)

stop going to a place just because they didn't give me special treatment as a regular."

Given that you visit a finite number of restaurants per year, how can both statements be true?

A finite number can be very big.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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I can think of two roughly comparable places which are both quite hard to get into. One I can almost always get into...one I can't. yes, I patronize the former quite a bit more often...but not so much because they let ME in but rather because I CAN get in. but I don't stop going to the latter...

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And of course ue is right.  Ko is a separate restaurant from Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar.  I eat a lot at Esca, and get treated very well there -- but I don't expect it to translate into tables at Babbo.

So why are Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar regulars invited to previews at Ko? There's obviously a connection.


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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So if regulars and VIPs get first dibs, then how are us common folk supposed to eat at a 12 seat restaurant?

Hypothetically, Chang could hold back 6 out of the 12 seats for regulars and VIPs, which would reduce our chances by 50%. We'd still get in, but it would be harder. Eventually, after the furore dies down, Chang would find that he doesn't need those seats every night, and they'd go back into the pool for everybody.

As Steven noted in Turning the Tables, there's a point in the day when the house seats are put back on the market if it turns out that regulars haven't taken them.

I think it's well-established that Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar exist entirely apart from Ko.
I think it's well-established that the opposite is true. Indeed, several people have mentioned that dishes now being served at Ko were previewed at Ssam Bar. Clearly many of those being comped during F&F were Ssam Bar regulars.
You think frequenting Bar Boulud gives one special rights to the tented table at Daniel?

That's the wrong analogy, because Daniel came first, and I'm sure that those Daniel regulars who wanted to try Bar Boulud went to the front of the reservations line.

Here, it's Ssam Bar that came first. Clearly there would never have been a Ko if Ssam Bar hadn't been a hit. So there's something to be said for rewarding those who made Ko possible in the first place. Basically, he's done that with an extended F&F period. Over time, Ko (if it succeeds) will build up its own cadre of regulars, who may or may not be the same as the Ssam Bar regulars. What he does (if anything) to make them continue to feel special—other than just serving the same food he serves everybody—remains to be seen.

Obviously the concept of a "Ko regular" will be different, not only because of the difficulty of getting in, but nobody wants to eat an $85 degustation menu all the time. By its nature, Ko isn't going to be a "drop in and snack" place, the way Ssam Bar is. But initially, much of the Ko buzz is clearly coming from those who already bought into the Ssam Bar package.

I absolutely expect special treatment when I spend thousands of dollars at a restaurant over a period of years.

When I spend money, I expect to get the food that I've paid for (nothing more).

I think FG is right that when you decide to make a restaurant your "go-to" place, and spend thousands of dollars there, you normally will get some kind of special preference. A restaurant that doesn't somehow reward loyalty will get less of it.
Edited by oakapple (log)

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