Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Marcel's - The Regular


chuchelo
 Share

Recommended Posts

(perhaps this has already been discussed though a search yielded nothing that I could see - if so, please leave me a pointer to the correct discussion - thanks!)

Did anyone read this column in the City Paper about the lengths to which Marcel's has gone to keep a regular diner happy? I found it fascinating. Does anyone know of something similar elsewhere? If not, is it because other restaurants don't have a similar Capital 'R' regular or because even if they did, they just wouldn't take it to this level?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fascinating article. There are all kinds of people in this world. For some predictability and stability are of paramount importance. I like variety too much to even think of a regimen like that even forgetting about cost issues. There is a lot to be said, however, for a restaurant making a customer feel special. That always enhances the experience.

I would think that for a customer like that this is not taking things "too far". I believe it is good business for the restaurant.

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

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fascinating article. There are all kinds of people in this world. For some predictability and stability are of paramount importance. I like variety too much to even think of a regimen like that even forgetting about cost issues. There is a lot to be said, however, for a restaurant making a customer feel special. That always enhances the experience.

I would think that for a customer like that this is not taking things "too far". I believe it is good business for the restaurant.

An incredible story that speaks volumes for the values of Marcel's and the level of comfort they've been able to give him. It shows the restaurant in the absolute highest light! I applaud them. And the doctor for returning virtually every night.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't imagine ever wanting to live that way, but it certainly was interesting.

Although, as a Psychologist, I was offended the psychological nonsense they were spouting.

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although, as a Psychologist, I was offended the psychological nonsense they were spouting.

Hmmm, I got the sense that it was Dr. Hall who was providing the psychological commentary of himself from his academic perspective as the dean of psychology at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Given that he spends $50-60k a year there, I suppose a car & driver, swivel seat, etc. is cost-effective. And of course, this article is pretty good publicity. Maybe people will go there just to watch the Hall show, as it were. ??? Does anyone know of another restaurant that goes to this length for a customer?

On another note, I thought the gullet guys would be all over this story and I thought I would be quite late in the conversation. Does no one read Young & Hungry or is it that no one else thought it was very interesting or? :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think from the perspective of the keen amateur diner, the interesting thing is not that the gent in question chooses to spend $50,000 a year eating out, but that he chooses to spend it on repeatedly eating roughly the same things, however well prepared. And that certainly implies, to me at least, that the motivating force behind the behaviour is psychological, rather than gastronomic.

The article is great, though. A charming picture of a charming eccentric. This is why Kliman so clearly transcends the regular "the fish was moist, the decor was tacky, the service was sufficiently obsequious" school of food writing and criticism.

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very nice article. I am a friend of Dr. Hall. My college friend's girlfriend was the hostess there in the 1990s and we met Dr. Hall at the bar on evening. He has entertained us numerous times both at Marcel's at at the Cosmos club. Dr. Hall is a gentleman of the old school style, impeccably dressed, extremely polite and erudite.

I am not sure why everyone finds this strange. If you eat home every night, you are eating food prepared by the same 'chef' (you or your spouse). Dr. Hall has simply chosen to have his evening meals prepared by one of the great chefs in this city. I can also assure you he could eat there every night and never have the same meal twice. He can order whatever he wants.

I would suggest people not read too much into his personality from this one article. He is certainly not an eccentic.

Edited by DCMark (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My response to this article? The man's a control freak. Wants the same routine, the same drinks, the same servers, *the same chair* day in and day out. Talk about being in your comfort zone!!

Even with the best ingredients, I couldn't spend close to $60,000 a year to feed one person..........

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My response to this article?  The man's a control freak.  Wants the same routine, the same drinks, the same servers, *the same chair* day in and day out.  Talk about being in your comfort zone!!

Ah, c'mon...am I a "control freak" because I sit in my same chair at my dining room table & eat food either cooked by me or my husband 5 or 6 nights a week? I think his routine sounds great - wish I had that budget :biggrin:

"What, after all, is more seductive than the prospect of sinning in libraries?"

Michael Dirda, An Open Book

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My response to this article?  The man's a control freak.  Wants the same routine, the same drinks, the same servers, *the same chair* day in and day out.  Talk about being in your comfort zone!!

Ah, c'mon...am I a "control freak" because I sit in my same chair at my dining room table & eat food either cooked by me or my husband 5 or 6 nights a week? I think his routine sounds great - wish I had that budget :biggrin:

Thank you. I love how people rush to judgement with so little information.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My response to this article?  The man's a control freak.  Wants the same routine, the same drinks, the same servers, *the same chair* day in and day out.  Talk about being in your comfort zone!!

Even with the best ingredients, I couldn't spend close to $60,000 a year to feed one person..........

I think it has nothing to do with being a "control freak." At 71 this has become a surrogate family of sorts for him. He uses the word "structure" to describe it and mentions the alternative of shopping at Dean and DeLuca, then cooking at home himself. Perhaps alone. It is this last word that is the key for me (my word). For the same reason that Cliff Clavin sat on the same bar seat at Cheers, night after night, next to Norm, the same reason that bars have regular customers who stop in virtually every night after work this man has found a kind of home and family at Marcel's. In the 1960's when I worked as a waiter at the old Hot Shoppe at Wisconsin and Van Ness there were several elderly singles who had dinner there every night. EVERY NIGHT. When they didn't come in we were worried that perhaps something may have happened. I remember one night being dispatched by the hostess to walk down to McLean Gardens and knock on a woman's door. The hostess was worried that something might have happened to her-she was so regular, so dependable.

If this man makes several hundred thousand dollars a year or has substantial investments the money is meaningless. I think for him it is the comfort and reassurance that he can go somewhere almost every night where "everyone knows his name." Where, for him, they seem to care. At the Hot Shoppe that night forty years ago a hostess confirmed that she indeed did care. Marcel's does, too.

There are different perspectives when one is older, especially in the '70's and confronting realities never before considered. Perhaps without a family or children, a friendly, caring, restaurant or bar that reaches out with warmth means a lot. Sometimes, to both.

I was 16 when I knocked on that woman's door. Now I am 58. Thirteen years from now I will be this man's age. I know from personal experience that values change.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very nicely put Joe.

At the same time, I always feel a little bit of *tristesse* looking at such a situation. Same with the elderly singles you mention in your post.

While happy that he has such a family, you almost want to take him out somewhere else. It can be a fine line between being comfortable with the known and avoiding the unknown.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the 1960's when I worked as a waiter at the old Hot Shoppe at Wisconsin and Van Ness there were several elderly singles who had dinner there every night.  EVERY NIGHT.  When they didn't come in we were worried that perhaps something may have happened.  I remember one night being dispatched by the hostess to walk down to McLean Gardens and knock on a woman's door.  The hostess was worried that something might have happened to her-she was so regular, so dependable. 

Joe H, you must have waited on my dear old mostly-blind great-uncle, "Uncle Buddy". He lived right off of Chevy Chase Circle and was a regular at that Hot Shoppe, I believe, relying on friends to take him there whenever they went. It's comforting to know that good people like you were looking out for him and his friends. Thank you for your post.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"In the 1960's when I worked as a waiter at the old Hot Shoppe at Wisconsin and Van Ness there were several elderly singles who had dinner there every night. EVERY NIGHT. When they didn't come in we were worried that perhaps something may have happened. I remember one night being dispatched by the hostess to walk down to McLean Gardens and knock on a woman's door. The hostess was worried that something might have happened to her-she was so regular, so dependable."

We should all be so lucky when we are that age to have people around us besides family who care enough to do such things. That's part of what makes a city a community.

arsenal rule
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too thought Joe H's story about the staff at the Hot Shoppe looking out for elderly patrons who came in alone every night was touching.

But I have to say, the last word that came to my mind when I read Todd Kliman's great piece about Dr. Hall was 'elderly'. He is professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at University of Maryland. That's present tense, meaning he's not retired. In that position, he's most likely still doing research and he most certainly does not spend his days alone. Maybe he enjoys going to Marcel's every night just to relax and escape the faculty squabbles he has to referee. :cool:

In any case, Kliman's story did not leave me with the impression of a lonely, elderly man, but rather that of a vibrant, interesting person with an active career who has good taste in food and wine (and ambiance, of course), who knows what he likes and sticks with it. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wasn't it Einstein who had a closet full of the same suit and shirt. He didn't want to waste his efforts on choosing what to wear in the morning. That was my reaction on reading this.

Bill Russell

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the same reason that Cliff Clavin sat on the same bar seat at Cheers, night after night, next to Norm

I've talked with Dr. Hall a couple of times - he's an interesting conversationalist and a gentle soul. Very receptive and approachable, too - the first time I ever met him we ended up talking for over an hour on a variety of subjects ranging from test-rat ethics to peptides.

No pun intended, but, um ... Cheers,

Rocks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the same reason that Cliff Clavin sat on the same bar seat at Cheers, night after night, next to Norm

I've talked with Dr. Hall a couple of times - he's an interesting conversationalist and a gentle soul. Very receptive and approachable, too - the first time I ever met him we ended up talking for over an hour on a variety of subjects ranging from test-rat ethics to peptides.

No pun intended, but, um ... Cheers,

Rocks.

I didn't realize that test-rats had ethics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been dismayed by a number of the reactions in this thread to the simple phenomenon of a regular, especially such a harmless and agreeable regular as Dr. Hall appears to be. In any major cosmopolitan city such an "habitué" would not raise an eyebrow, yet here many people--even in a forum of gastronomes such as this--seem to think of him as a circus freak. Strange.

Edited by banco (log)

Don’t you have a machine that puts food into the mouth and pushes it down?

--Nikita Khrushchev to Richard Nixon during the "Kitchen Debate" in Moscow, 1959

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although, as a Psychologist, I was offended the psychological nonsense they were spouting.

Hmmm, I got the sense that it was Dr. Hall who was providing the psychological commentary of himself from his academic perspective as the dean of psychology at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Given that he spends $50-60k a year there, I suppose a car & driver, swivel seat, etc. is cost-effective. And of course, this article is pretty good publicity. Maybe people will go there just to watch the Hall show, as it were. ??? Does anyone know of another restaurant that goes to this length for a customer?

On another note, I thought the gullet guys would be all over this story and I thought I would be quite late in the conversation. Does no one read Young & Hungry or is it that no one else thought it was very interesting or? :unsure:

I was more talking about stuff like this:

Marcel’s would make an interesting laboratory for a study in organizational psychology.

trust me, he's getting ribbed from people in his department for this.

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been dismayed by a number of the reactions in this thread to the simple phenomenon of a regular, especially such a harmless and agreeable regular as Dr. Hall appears to be. In any major cosmopolitan city such an "habitué" would not raise an eyebrow, yet here many people--even in a forum of gastronomes such as this--seem to think of him as a circus freak. Strange.

I think most would agree that Dr. Hall's behavior, as described in the article, is somewhat, shall we say, abby normal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been dismayed by a number of the reactions in this thread to the simple phenomenon of a regular, especially such a harmless and agreeable regular as Dr. Hall appears to be. In any major cosmopolitan city such an "habitué" would not raise an eyebrow, yet here many people--even in a forum of gastronomes such as this--seem to think of him as a circus freak. Strange.

I think most would agree that Dr. Hall's behavior, as described in the article, is somewhat, shall we say, abby normal.

My point exactly.

Don’t you have a machine that puts food into the mouth and pushes it down?

--Nikita Khrushchev to Richard Nixon during the "Kitchen Debate" in Moscow, 1959

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...