Cafe Society

On bribing a maitre'd

So how much, exactly, is that perfect table worth to you?  I'm curious because I Just heard from one of my good office sources about a scene last night at Proto's (2401 15th Street) that completely blew my mind.

The way he told it, Proto's was packed on Thursday. Wall-to-wall and with an extreme wait for a decent seat anywhere in the joint.  All speculation as to whether or not anyone in their right mind ought to actually wait for a table at Proto's aside, the floor was jammed and my friend (along with four of his cohorts) was among the impatient throng. They were holding out for a certain table--a booth big enough to seat five comfortably for a long evening of pizza-eating and beer-drinking--and had been in limbo for quite some time when, out of nowhere, comes some dude with a yen for the same table.

This happens all the time. But here's the thing that killed me.  Party boy?  He pulls out a crisp hundred-dollar bill and tries to slide it to the beleaguered hostess working the front. Yeah, you read that right: a hundo.  At Proto's.

Now, credit goes to the hostess here because she didn't take it, She respected the playground rules of "first come, first served," and didn't give the roll-flashing jerkoff the table.

But this got me thinking about the correct rules for bribing a maitre'd. A hundred bucks at Proto's?  That's obviously way over the line -- a shock-and-awe kind of move as out of place at a pizza joint on a Thursday night in Denver, Colorado, as me trying to get good service at a Manhattan bar on a Friday night with a fiver. I personally would've offered ten at most -- and even then only if I really needed a table right that minute for some inconceivable reason -- but what would've been the proper amount and the proper method?

I'd love to hear from some valets, hosts, hostesses, front-of-the-house personnel and concierges on this topic.  If you've been the person getting his or her palm greased, let me know how to do it well.  And if you've been the person doing the greasing, let me know how you do it and what the results have been.

And who knows? If I get enough of a response to this, I may have to go out there and do a little experimenting in the field.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan