The first time I went to The Nickel, the spiffy new restaurant that took the place of Prima Ristorante in the refurbished Hotel Teatro, I felt like I was buying a new car. There was wheeling. There was dealing. There was even that awkward moment when the salesman disappeared into the back room to consult the boss, good cop/bad cop style. Only this wasn't a salesman, it was a hostess, and what we wanted wasn't a better price on the outgoing model, but one of the empty tables scattered around the dining room. "I'm sorry," the hostess said. "Can you come back in an hour? The pre-theater crowd will be gone by then."
But my friend couldn't wait; he had places to be. So he inquired about the empty stools at the community counter and wraparound bar. "I'm sorry," she said for the second time. "You're not allowed to sit there. You'll have to come back." In the end, though, the good cop saved us, interrupting our talk of where to go next with an invitation to simply find an open seat.
See also: Behind the Scenes at The Nickel