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.
Bobo, Carlos Suarez's 7 month-old stunner in the West Village hasn't had a totally smooth go of it (early poor reviews may or may not have led to a chef change just four months in), but the crowds have packed in the restaurant's two floors since its inception. Bobo has an old-fashioned elegance to it, and now that chef Jared Stafford-Hill is in charge of the menu, things are looking up in the food department. Best case scenario, you'll be waiting at the bar for an hour for a table. The man between you and your candle-lit two top? General Manager Andy Vaughan, and if you have choice Yankees tickets or some single malt, it could speed up the process.
Andy Vaughan, General Manager: Bobo has 70 seats inside and another 30 in the gorgeous garden. Table 300 in the garden, table 207 in the upstairs dining room and table 102 downstairs are my favorites. Best of all is dining at the upstairs bar. 8 PM on a Saturday night. What's the wait for a table? Might be two hours, but we'll work nonstop to get you a table – so probably less.
Is there anything I can say to make my wait shorter?
If you resemble this guy (right), or you know the secret handshake. How about gifts or cash to speed things along? I have weakness for single malt and Brazilians. The front desk on the other hand are beyond reproach. Have you ever been offered a bribe? What was it, and did you take it? Yes. $100. Of course not - I am still waiting for those world Series Yankees tickets I was promised though!!!
Tell us about your favorite customers? Any celebs been by recently? None yet, we're always waiting for Viv Richards, George Best, The Queen Mother, and any (surviving) members of Monty Python's Flying Circus. How do you deal with VIPs, when there are no tables left to give? Set off the fire alarm, have everyone leave, and seat VIPs accordingly. ..the owner's friends? He doesn't seem to have any?though the ones he claims to know are pretty awful: they don't pay or tip, but of course we do our best. When there's a line and your friends show up, do they get free drinks? Yes, but please don't mention this to the owner.
What's the most outrageous request from a customer you've had to accommodate? To pet Charlotte, the monkey. I appreciate monkey love as much as the next fella, so Charlotte was our Bobo Valentine. She sang/screamed alongside Sam, our St. Valentine's Day pianist. Was quite the show! ...that you couldn't accommodate? To meet the chef, Mario Batali. To which I responded, "So sorry. Our kickass chef's name is Jared Stafford-Hill. (He's probably quite busy in the kitchen.) I'm sure he'd love to meet you."
What's the one Gatekeeper tool you need to do your job? Lifts. I'm 5'4". When you're not at Bobo, where are you eating? Anywhere a friend is willing send me some free drinks.