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.
Gramercy Tavern, Danny Meyer's number two, is settling into a pretty fantastic rebirth. Initially opened with Tom Colicchio in the kitchen, Michael Anthony now runs the show. On the last night it snowed, the wait in the front tavern room was two hours. Ditto for the back. But somehow, since this is Meyerland, Scott Reinhardt, assistant GM, is going to find a way to make you happy come hell or high water.
Reinhardt: We have the no-reservation Tavern area of the restaurant that always works on a “first-come first-served” basis. We do go on very long waits and we would like to accommodate everyone that comes in but we unfortunately have to turn some guests away. Usually our bar is also at capacity so we might suggest putting their name on our list and having a drink at a neighboring bar while waiting.
There are times when a guest calls us to confirm a reservation and we do not have it in our system. We always presume we might have erred, and do all we can to overcome the mistake. Often we actually find that reservation at another restaurant in the city, or another restaurant in our group. We do have guests try to buy their way into the restaurant, which we simply will not do. All of our maitre d’s are very good at keeping their hands inaccessible!
Rather than “Gatekeepers” we prefer to consider ourselves more like “agents”. We are constantly looking for opportunities to find ways to help our guests dine here, not keep them out! What makes us different from many other restaurants is that our entire staff is hired and trained to have a complete understanding and commitment to our ultimate
goal – to create a dining experience our guests will have no choice but to rave about.
For the Main Dining Room, it is always wise to reserve up to 28 days in advance, which is when we open our book for each reservation. We are always on a 28 day schedule and most of the prime times will go within the first half hour, especially for Saturday evenings. Unfortunately there are more callers than the amount of tables that we can take for any given ½ hour so we try other options: wait list, book an early or late table and we make a note that they would prefer a better time and we all do our best to accommodate that. It’s a great idea to ask to have your name on our wait list, which really does work: we usually have about 10% of the bookings cancel soon before the day of, and we love working people into the dining room from off the wait list.
Lunch is a great option, because you would not have to reserve quite as far in advance (the exception is Restaurant Week). If we could get more people to come between 3PM – 5PM, take a late lunch / early dinner, there’s a full menu in the tavern. Come in and use us like your neighborhood coffee shop, have an appetizer, some cheese, or a dessert.
The Private Dining Room is always booked, all but maybe 5 days a year. It holds 22 guests, and costs a minimum $500 for lunch and $2000 for dinner. We will accept reservations in the Private Dining Room up to 1 year in advance. The largest volume of calls we get is for said room for Thanksgiving, unfortunately we’re closed on such date, and Christmas and New Years Day, but we do fax a list of other places that our open to our patrons.
When we absolutely can’t accommodate someone, our hosts are great about suggesting another restaurant in the area, and will are always happy to call those restaurants – some of which are our sister restaurants - to see if they have a table. We never like to see our guests leaving disappointed. You can even make reservations on your own schedule, rather during our business hours, via our website 24/7. They few caveats are, Valentines Day, we were fully reserved in 8 minutes. Restaurant Week, 15 minutes, for every day of the week. Saturday and Sunday in the tavern room there is a line out the door at 12PM, and we don’t close between lunch and dinner.