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Tipping the Maitre `D To Get a Table

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Did anyone else read the article in the Post recently where the reporter visited a number of upscale restaurants in Manhattan during prime dining time without reservations and tried to get a table? When he was turned down, he offered the maitre`d $50 and then got a table almost right away in all but one of the restaurants.

I wonder how prevalent this practice is. A colleague of mine told me that one of his sons often goes to Peter Luger's in Brooklyn without a reservation and gives the maitre `d $20 when he asks for a table. According to my friend, his son always gets seated in the next few minutes.

I've never gone to Peter Luger's without a reservation (except at lunch), but I've heard that if you go without a reservation, you can hang at the bar for maybe an hour, then you'll get seated. But maybe it's more economical in the long run to part with the $20 up front and get the table right away.

Maybe I'm naive, but I don't think I've ever greased the Maitre `d for a table in a restaurant. I either make a reservation or don't go. It just seems to me that there are so many places in New York that it's crazy to spend an additonal $20 or more simply to be allowed in to a particular place.

On the other hand, maybe everyone now greases the Maitre `d and I'm out synch.

I'm curious to know what others think of this.

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  1. I wouldn't dream of doing it - but maybe I'm also out of step. If there's no table and the wait is too long, I move on. And make a reservation the next time. When I was in Russia some years ago, people frantically waved foreign passports at maitre'd's to get admitted to otherwise "closed" restaurants. I refrained from doing that as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Zephyr

      I totally enjoyed the Gourmet article. And yes the author always asked for a table before the schmear. I just can't afford the extra bucks!

    2. There is another thread on the same article/topic recently. I forget on which board it's on, though.

      Hmm..I once went to Peter Luger's without a res. and DID wait an hour or two for a table. They're assholes, there, IMHO and the steaks are really mediocre, the choices limited, service and atmosphere boring verging on nasty. Not worth an extra $20 in any case.

      The one thing it seems the Post/Gourmet writer seems not to have tried was getting into these nice restaurants WITHOUT a bribe! Since there were tables for the taking, maybe a charming, well-mannered walk-in customer could have just as easily grabbed the seat without any shady dealings....

      -shane

      1 Reply
      1. re: Shane

        Just read the article yesterday and he DID try to get in without a bribe first. He would ask if they had anything available and invariably be told no or that there was a considerable wait. That's when he whipped it out (the $ that is) and would say something along the lines of "this is a very special night for me", etc, then he'd grease 'em and get the table (mostly). My Dad used to do it sometimes and it always embarassed the hell out of me. Seems old-fasioned and unethical - but hey, any port in a storm, I guess.

      2. Don't know if this is the same article that is in the current issue of Gourmet but in that article on of the few places he could not bribe his way in was Le Bernadin...where he nonetheless got a table relatively quickly and enjoyed the outstanding service there. Greg

        1. does anyone know where i can get the original article? i've looked all over the ny post website and i can't find anything. any help would be appreciated

          3 Replies
          1. re: kel

            You won't find it on the Post site...it was originally in Gourmet and Post only bought the rights for print reprint.

            Can anyone come up with either the Gourmet or Post issue date so Kel can write in to buy the back copy?

            ciao

            1. re: Jim Leff

              Article name: Pocketful of Dough by Bruce Feiler.

            2. re: kel
              y
              yvonne johnson

              the bruce feiler article on tipping was in gourmet, oct 2000, collector's edition, pp. 94-98.

              if you can't find it anywhere, email me as i'm happy to give away my copy