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.
Tia Pol open in July of 2004. It started as a somewhat secret cult place (in no small part due to its miniscule size), then people started talking, and soon thereafter it became a massive hit. Now, the waits are often two hours at dinnertime. Erin Rogerson is your lady of the list.
Erin: "We're friendly to everyone. Sometimes it gets hairy in here. I take down the time you came in, and your number, but since it's such a small place, we have to get some people out of the door during their wait. We have a new place opening on 24th St between 8th and 9th avenues, which will help with overflow."
"There are only 3 tables that seat 4, a wait for 4 can be up to 2 hours, if you're a party of 2 or 3, come in early, say 545PM, or late 945PM."
"Older men try and slip me money, there are big name droppers, and they tell you they know Mani and/or Heather, but they could have very-well read that somewhere. It's hard to know whom they know, since they know so many people."
"We don't have a real reservation station, so you feel a little exposed. It's a really very little space in the restaurant. People walk in the door, and you have to be an assertive hostess to keep order. We try to get them to start drinking at the "standing" bar, a similar procedure as they do in Spain."
"It's the worst when you call people and they don't pick up. They were so ready to wait in our establishment, but once they leave and walk around, it's like they're no longer on our time, but theirs."
"With 'tapas', you think people are done and then they go ahead an order another round. Some just tend to sit and keep it coming."
"I seat the bar as well as the dining room. Parties of 6-8 can make reservations, but we are limited, as we only have one table to accommodate that many at a time. We have a great backroom which can be reserved for a minimum of 12 people."
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; Joe Perret of Nobu; Ai Takami of Landmarc; Gabriel Stulman of The Little Owl; Mario Wainer at Le Cirque; Travis Lee Kaufman from Frankies.