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The Gatekeepers: Bar 44's Kylie Case

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Krieger, 6/12/08

Bar 44, the Royalton Hotel's luxe bar and lounge, is mainly a gathering spot for the hotel's guests and its media regulars from nearby Conde Nast, HBO, and the like. It attracts both the overflow from the hotel's recently revamped Brasserie 44 and those nostalgic for the hotel's 'legendary' Round Bar. If you're dealing with an hour long wait or if you have some absurd request, Maitre d' Kylie Case is on hand to smooth everything over.

Kylie Case, Maitre d’: We have 24 tables in total? the chesterfield sofas flocking the fireplace are fun for a more lively scene; if I’m having a drink on my night off, the tables tucked away in the corners are my choice for a quiet cocktail and catching up with friends. 8 PM on a Saturday night. What's the wait for a table? Average is 45 minutes. Is there anything I can say to make my wait shorter? Guests staying at the hotel have priority, otherwise it’s a completely democratic system- first come, first served!

...How about gifts or cash to speed things along?

Tips are unnecessary and a ‘bribe’ is always considered tacky. But has anyone tried? Yes, I am still awaiting receipt of a Kelly green Birkin bag?

Tell us about your favorite customers? Any celebs been by recently? We’re very fortunate to have an eclectic mix of clientele. Guests of the hotel come to visit us from all over the world. Our Midtown location is very favorable to celebrities, their names I would never divulge. The ubiquitous pack of actors, musicians, fashion designers, athletes, etc. are frequent guests of the lounge. Royalton has a long running history of ties to the media world. With Conde Nast, Hearst, Hachette Filipacchi, HBO, MTV as neighbors, Bar 44 is a popular nucleus for media elite to hold meetings, conduct interviews and socialize with colleagues.

How do you deal with VIPs, when there are no tables left to give? On a busy night, this can be rather challenging given our limited real estate? I’ve been known to transform the concierge desk into a cocktail table when I’m in a bind...the owner's friends? We bend over backwards to accommodate guests (within moral and ethical guidelines, of course).

What's the most outrageous request from a customer you've had to accommodate? Anything and everything imaginable has been requested. Outlandish requests are part of the nature of the job? But one of my favorite moments involved a very prolific guest insisting upon a “flirtini on the rocks”...Bar 44 has garnered notoriety for our specialty cocktails and the request easily could have been frowned upon. The drink of choice launched my bartender into a tirade of Tom Cruise circa ‘Cocktail’ inspired dance maneuvers (complete with requisite pelvic thrust)...sending the bar staff in hysterics.

...that you couldn't accommodate? ‘No’ is not word in my vocabulary. However, if the repercussions involve a one-night stay at Rikers Island, chances are the polite answer may be, “I’m sorry I can’t help you.”

What's the one Gatekeeper tool you need to do your job? 3.75” stilettos- the perfect vantage point to see the entire floor. When you're not at Brasserie 44, where are you eating? I love a good cheeseburger- Shake Shack is perfection. Balthazar, Spotted Pig, Falai, La Esquina and Blue Ribbon are old standbys? Bar Milano and Momofuku Ko are my current faves.

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