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.
Room 4 Dessert is a sliver of a restaurant -- just a counter, actually -- and the dessert set has really taken to the place. Opened in January 2006, and the subject of a Bill Buford profile in the New Yorker, it's been mostly packed from the get-go and weekend waits are brutal. Plus, it's become one of the better spots downtown for chef-watching—Jean Georges, Paul Liebrandt, Dave Chang, Damon Wise and Wesley Genovart have all been though. Goldfarb and his team of dessert acrobats are all in the gatekeeping mix, so it's best you meet the lot (clockwise from top left): Will Goldfarb, Pam Yung, Suri Seymour, and Tyra Colar.
Will Goldfarb We like to have no seating policy. Except of course that we take reservations. We really don’t have the ability to hold seats for vips as we are so small, and to be fair, we don’t priority seat any of our friends before our regulars, or before our first time guests that have been patiently waiting.
The general agreement is that it is ridiculous to monitor the seating when we are empty; the problem is that we fill in so fast that we have to be cautious about how we position everyone. Generally its just luck if you get to sit near Pam, but I have been known to accept bribes to get our guests phone numbers to her. Outcall only!
My job then consists of making sure that she doesn’t have to talk to them during (or after) work. Gatekeeper indeed!
We have a great clientele who is always very accommodating about any need to change seats; we smooth things over by offering free drinks as tell to anyone who has been inconvenienced. Only one person has actually left the restaurant since opening upon learning that the chair they sat themselves in was already reserved.
Stats: Third night, 130 covers; Me and bob no bar no dishwasher 80 covers; Most covers ever 160; Average wait on Saturday between 8 and 1200, one hour.
· The Gatekeepers [~E~]