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The Gatekeepers: Ai Takami

On we go with The Gatekeepers, a photo series we've commissioned from Michael Harlan Turkell. For the next several weeks, we'll be presenting portraits of The Gatekeepers: the very folks that stand between you and some of your favorite impossible-to-get tables.


Landmarc in just a few short years has achieved neighborhood canteen status, which makes for a packed dining room seven nights a week. And it doesn't help matters that Marc Murphy's American grill has one of the more exceptionally priced and curated wine lists downtown. The nice woman who will quote you '45 minutes to an hour' is likely to be Ai Takami.

Ai: "We serve a full menu at the bar. Regulars have an understanding and use this to their advantage. They have a half bottle and appetizers at the bar, when their table is ready they sit and have entrees and desserts, and finish off at the bar again for a night cap."

"We actually don't get much for tips. It's a family-friendly restaurant, we know the patrons dog's name, when their birthdays are. Sometimes they bring back gifts from vacation, postcards, chocolates, but it's never a bribe, it's always an act of friendship."

"Primarily a walk-in restaurant. Only 3-4 tables a night are reserved. We only take reservations for parties of 6-10 people. People come in shy, thinking they'll never get a table, but we get to tell them 'don't worry, no one here has reservations, we're not like that'.

"Big industry crowd, mainly because we're open until 2am. The steaks are a big draw. The wine program as well. Thursday to Saturday from 7 - 1030PM are bustling, but we try to and manage to please most everybody."

"There are many celebrities that live in the neighborhood, and they seem more like neighbors than celebrities".

Previously on The Gatekeepers: Iris Espinosa of Mary's Fish Camp; Ivilisse V. Esguerra of Mas; Mario Haro of Saul; the team at Spotted Pig; and Joe Perret of Nobu.

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