This is The Gatekeepers, in which Eater roams the city meeting the fine ladies and gentlemen that stand between you and some of your favorite impossible-to-get tables.
Socialista is a relative newcomer by Gatekeepers standards, but its front man, Armin Amiri, was trained by the reigning queen of nightlife, Amy Sacco. Upstairs, getting into Socialista requires a personal relationship with someone on the inside or the air of celebrity; downstairs, at the cafe, things are more democratic, but not by much. In either setting, Rebecca Kelly Arnold, maître d', is really someone you ought to know.
Rebecca Kelly Arnold: "There are 65 seats in the restaurant. My favorite is the round table in the back corner because it is cozy for two and you have a nice view of the restaurant." 8 PM on a Saturday night. What’s the wait for a table? "There is an hour to an hour and a half wait, but there is a bar with a full menu, great drinks, and the bartenders always show the guests a great time." Is there anything I can say to make my wait shorter? "I do my best to seat everyone in a timely fashion, but a polite attitude and understanding is always appreciated." ...How about gifts or cash to speed things along?
"Cash and gifts will not speed things along, but if you are just in the spirit of giving?My favorite guests are those who are polite and understand that I will always try my best for them, and they let me do my job. These guests are just out to have a nice dining experience and enjoy the environment and good food. Some of these guests are celebrities, but that’s neither here nor there." How do you deal with VIPs, when there are no tables left to give? "The lounge is always available for emergencies.: ...how about the owner’s friends? "Many people come in claiming to be “friends of the owner.” If they really are, then I would already be prepared for them with a table and reservation."
What’s the most outrageous request from a customer you’ve had to accommodate? "There was a party of six with no reservation that wanted to sit so badly that they offered to sit on each other’s laps on our remaining table of four. I just found them some chairs." ...that you couldn’t accommodate? "A man asked me if he could fly me to Tahiti with him?I couldn’t accommodate that." What’s the one Gatekeeper tool you need to do your job? "A great staff in the front and back of the house, and my ability to look people in the eye and firmly say no when I need to."