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How to get into the Hottest Restaurants in Town (gourmet.com)
117 points by antiform on Sept 29, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments

Thanks for posting this, I found it really interesting.

As a 20-something geek I was surprised to read how virtually every place accepted the bribe in one way or another. It really contradicts my low confidence + true/false mentality.

His attitude appears to have been the magic for making those deals... had he been holding the money timidly he implies they certainly would have turned him away. I will take away from the article the reminder that more self confidence (to a point) reaps benefits in ways I wouldn't always expect.

"... As a 20-something geek I was surprised to read how virtually every place accepted the bribe in one way or another. It really contradicts my low confidence + true/false mentality ..."

The downside of this approach is the associated psychology. If you give out bribes there is possibility bribery can also be used against you. So be careful how you deal with this kind of activity. Don't be surprised if the people you bribe try it back on yourself.

Agree with you. Interesting to see what a little self-confidence thus even if you don't feel great inside.

I firm outside can hide oceans of internal insecurity.

This is so true and such a cliché that we often suspect people with too firm outsides to do just that.

Wow, I'm jealous. I think the real question is how you can get a job writing about your experience bribing maître d's and eating free meals at some of the best restaurants in New York.

For one... the meals weren't free. I'm sure he was tipping generously those nights though.

The one thing that really strikes me is I wonder if this bribing is relatively rare, and the novelty is what made it work.

"I did have an incentive: I could eat at any place I could successfully finagle my way into."

It's not clear, but I took this to mean that his meal (if not the tip/bribe) was paid for on expenses.

From my experience in new york, you can get into almost any "hot" or sought after club with the same tactics -- ones that have 200 people lines at midnight. Bypassing a 200 person line is pretty exhilarating.

He seems to wrap it up well in his tips -- the most important is that it seems natural, that you dress well and seem meant to be there, and not be awkward about the tip.

Walking straight up to the bouncer at the front of a line, asking to get in, and (after you are denied and told to get to the back of the line) saying "Isn't there some way we can work this out?" while slipping him a twenty works every time.

Just a 20?

too bad that the 200 person line clubs are rarely worth going to anyways, unless you derive your utility from the actual act of getting in where they cannot (it seems as though you do)

That's irrelevant to what he's saying. His point is that if you WANT to, you CAN do it.

And frankly, there IS something exhilarating in getting to go where other people can't be. Perhaps it's not the cleanest thrill, but it's stupid to say that you derive no pleasure whatsoever from it.

Usually for food writers/reviewers they can expense everything. Almost always +1 too. Having a restaurant journalist friend is great.

They don't tell the restaurant they are reviewing it until after paying for the meal if at all - only to see the kitchens and such. Exceptions of course for new trendy restaurants - they sometimes have press nights.

This article is as alien to me as a newspaper written in Greenlandic. Perhaps it's something to do with spending too much of my life in Stoke-on-Trent, one of the less salubrious corners of England. It just seems to be taking the bland consumerism that has taken over life in most cities to a new extreme.

I've always done the whole "If you could squeeze me in, I'd be VERY grateful" bit, followed by a tip later. The meaning is implied so clearly that it might as well have been stated explicitly, plus the host doesn't risk losing his job. Works like a charm.

I'm still stuck on the get hot girl to accompany me step. I hear that's where the expense lies.

If it doesn't help, at least you'll be entertained:


I was at a workshop a couple of years ago where an attendee happened to be (I found out later) one of the pick-up artists from this book. Thinking about him still gives me the creeps.

People who give me the creeps are always intriguing. Could you elaborate?

Please, no. That is a well-written book for the most part, but don't take the antics as actual advice.

Yeah, it was said tongue in cheek. It truly is a hilarious read though.

I'd rather get into the best restaurants.

Agreed, I have yet to go to a trendy restaurant that actually has good food. Strictly speaking it's not impossible that a trendy restaurant would be good, but in practice the kinds of people who spend millions of dollars hiring an interior decorator aren't the kind of people who wake up at 4am every day to drive an hour to the fish market.

eh? Daniel and Le Bernardin are pretty damn good -- both have more than one michelin star

They'd certainly be on most people's list of the top five restaurants in NYC.

I'd be interested to see if it would work at the Waverly Inn, whose hype is based more than anything else, and more than any other restaurant in the city, around its exclusivity. They try very hard to cultivate an aura of unattainability (e.g. no phone reservations—only walk-ins or people who reserve through personal connections).

After reading this piece, though, it seems the better question is where wouldn't it work.

He should have gone to Babbo as well. That place is fantastic!

I don't think it would work for Ferran Adria's El Bulli.


Haha -

"Would you turn on the A/C? Tonight is a very important for me..."

Money talks.... nothing new :)

Exactly, cash is king.

one part Decline of the Roman Empire

That line pretty much sums up the idea of "trendy restaurants".

If you want a good night out, avoid this shit and find an old money haunt: better food, better service, and better diners. No, you won't see any celebrities (another plus).

I liked the article and found it extremely interesting how easy it was for him to circumvent the lines and policies of these places and get service that could in many ways be considered "above the rest."

However, in the mind of an entrepreneur I have to say that it seems as generally a waste of money to do such things, at least on a regular basis. Even if you had the money to do it, it would be extremely unwise. This would be the kind of thing you do and the kind of restaraunts you should eat at when it IS a special occassion... not because you're hungry.

There may be a need to create impressions in some lines of business.

I am sure we will be seeing less of this, as the world of high finance falls on hard times.

Or more of it, as the titans (and affiliated hecatoncheires etc) of finance quit being able to out-tip those of us with still-marketable skills.

just make a fake press pass and tell them you want to review them for your newspaper.

this is a forum for engineering, not marketing.

It's called Hacker News. Didn't he hack his way into the restaurants?

It was an entertaining article, granted, but I disagree that greasing palms to get a table at a restaurant is a hack.

Maybe I'm just bitter at the overuse of the word nowadays.

"Dude! I totally hacked that cereal into my mouth with a spoon!"

I agree, the word "hack" is overused. But if you go by the jargon file definition, you can apply it to almost anything.

"hack [very common]

1. n. Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well.

2. n. An incredibly good, and perhaps very time-consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed."

He got into the restaurant. Whether greasing palms is "not well" or "incredibly well" is up you ;)

Social engineering?

I think many HN readers dream of getting rich and dining at the best NY restaurants.

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