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The Gatekeepers: Delicatessen's Sergio Maclean

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Krieger, 8/20/08

Delicatessen, the barely two month-old space from the folks behind Chelsea's Cafeteria is already on the radar for the beautiful people and the neighborhood curmudgeons alike. It's wide open to the street on all sides, spilling out both music and ladies tottering on high heels, and seems to extend its claim on that sidewalk real estate nightly. Needless to say, there can be a bit of a wait to get in. And if you want that two-top near the garage doors or in the back corner, you should get to know Sergio Maclean.

Sergio Maclean, Director of Operations: We have a flexible 80 seats upstairs, not counting the communal bar. Around 25 in each lounge downstairs and soon an additional 44 in the sidewalk. I keep switching favorites, perhaps the communal bar facing the gates, any place in the courtyard downstairs and table 21 right by the sidewalk. 8 PM on a Saturday night. What's the wait for a table? Anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your party. But with two bars, two lounges and the open garage doors your wait may actually feel too short...

Is there anything I can say to make my wait shorter? You can smile, that always helps....How about gifts or cash to speed things along?

Well, the Apple store is just a few blocks away... seriously.

Tell us about your favorite customers? Any celebs been by recently? Our location and ambiance definitely attract some celebrities, but our favorites are the neighborhood crowd. They waited long for us to open and have welcomed us with open arms. Of course, half of the neighbors are celebrities, but they come to us with no pretension, I love that. You don't want to name drop just a little? No, I rather keep their privacy; it is mostly fashion and entertainment if that helps...and one or two gold medalists and sports celebrities from Spain that play with balls...but again, I can't hint at any specific tennis or golf game or stores in Mercer or Spring or Broome Street or TV series about doctors or fashion covers or movie stars that just had babies on the last year.

Any comment about that pissing incident in the Post? If someone needs to pee out a window to get five minutes in the Post and the Post thinks that is worth printing, then great for them. I mean, we have two wars and an election going on, and I have about 700 customers a day that enjoy using our toilettes to cover their needs with very little fuss...I mean, really?

How do you deal with VIPs, when there are no tables left to give? The same way I deal with anyone else; I invite them to wait at the Courtyard or Minibar downstairs and do everything I can to make them comfortable. If it takes a bottle of the Solo Rosa Rosé or a Zen Martini to calm then down, so be it. At the end of the day it's just dinner, and they are just people. The VI part is a tag, nothing else.

..the owner's friends? Well, with Mark and Andrew you can always count on a good number of friends dropping by, and most of them are celebrities and well connected the same time, for the most part they all try to always give preference to regular costumers. I have actually seen friends and family of the owners give away their reserved table to accommodate a walk in.

What's the most outrageous request from a customer you've had to
Probably the one I'll have tomorrow. It never ends. From accommodating 350 people walk in party to serving tables with sunglasses indoors to avoid the guest from having eye contact with the staff. Someone made a waitress wear sunglasses? The guest asked for the server to wear sunglasses...and then wore sunglasses was quite comical actually; no better way to make sure everyone looks at you. Any request that you couldn't accommodate? In the past? Nudity... it's not Department of Health Compliant.

What's the one Gatekeeper tool you need to do your job? A smile. When you're not at Delicatessen, where are you eating? Wherever my shoes and my girlfriend take me. My tastes are simple, and I am always curious. from Luca bar and Casimir to Elettaria and Dennis Foy's in TriBeCa There's always an option in NYC. That's why I love this city.