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The Gatekeepers: Victoria Haynes

This is The Gatekeepers, a photo series Eater has commissioned from Michael Harlan Turkell. Herein, we're pleased to introduce you to the fine ladies and gentlemen that stand between you and some of your favorite impossible-to-get tables.


Public is a restaurant that simply works. It's well designed and run competently and generally delivers a comfortable, satisfying experience. Thus, getting in is often a challenge. There are off hours, to be sure, but that's not when you want to go. For primetime seating come bearing a resy or expect to wait upwards of an hour. Of course, it helps if you know Victoria Haynes.

Victoria: Our goal is to feed as many happy, satisfied guests as possible. We’re a really popular restaurant and have very high standards of service, but we like to think that we’re also really friendly and relaxed. I guess customers don’t always understand why we do things the way we do.

People always want to know which celebrities hang out here. Like most New York restaurants, we get our fair share, but we don’t like to think of ourselves as a Page Six kind of place, so we try to keep that stuff private. We’d like to think we treat all of our guests like celebrities. We take our food very seriously and we don’t want to be known only as the hip place for celebrity spotting. Having said all that, we do definitely spoil our regulars and our wine mailbox members. If you’re not a regular and you want to be spoiled, just be nice to us. We’re really quite easy to please.


One of our pet peeves is the way some customers like to point to empty tables when they’re told that we don’t have a table available. It’s obviously in our best interest to seat as many people as we possibly can; that’s our job. But what we can’t do is sacrifice the level of service, the kitchen’s efficiency, and the flow of reservations. All of our policies are there for a reason, and it’s all about giving the guests the best possible experience.

Book early, don’t change your plans; it’s a good motto to make reservations by. If you’re looking to dine with us, call a week ahead. Someone is here from 10Am on, so you can call anytime after that to check for availability.

One of the big issues in a lot of busy New York restaurants seems to be the policy on seating incomplete parties. The reason is simple: All of our tables are valuable real estate. We would love to seat you as soon as we possibly can, but we’ve watched too many tables go wasted because of late arrivals or no-shows. In some cases we bend the rules, but it makes sense and is much fairer to seat parties who are complete first. We have some great areas to wait comfortably for your table. There’s a back lounge with a fireplace, and we just opened a gorgeous wine lounge called The Monday Room where you can have wine and snacks while you wait for your friends to arrive.

We do not take reservations for Brunch, so one can assume it can get pretty crazy. For the most part, our customers are really good to us, but sometimes hangovers and hunger do funny things to people, and they take it personally when I don’t have a table for them. What I love about working here is that we do our best to reward the nicest customers, people who are respectful of us and enthusiastic about the dining experience we would like to provide. Occasionally people are unreasonable about their requests and love to make a scene, and there have been cases where it was really intense, but generally being hostile and mean is a poor strategy to get a table.

Browse previous Gatekeepers.

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