How To Become a Regular at a Restaurant
As the maître d’ of Daniel—one of New York City’s finest dining destinations—John Winterman, who accepted the post in 2010—serves as the restaurant’s master of ceremonies, coordinating guest requests, preferences, and surprises among a host of servers, hosts, and chefs.
As such, he is the man to know if you’re angling to become a regular in one of the best restaurants in The City That Never Sleeps. Even if you don’t live in New York City, his expertise applies to top restaurants around the world. Here, Winterman shares his top five tips for becoming a restaurant fixture. His rule of thumb? Courtesy goes a long way.
1. Check Egos At the Door. “The entire staff’s priority is to be as accommodating as possible and provide a truly spectacular dining experience—we wouldn’t be in the business of hospitality otherwise,” says Winterman. “So explaining yourself or your situation is really not necessary. Being friendly, kind, and sincere will get you a lot further.”
2. Make a Personal Connection. “We do our best to personally greet every guest and ‘touch’ every table but it is also appreciated when a guest introduces themselves and personally connects in some fashion.”
3. Be Bold. “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve taken a walk-in on a very busy night because the guests had the courage to show up at 8 p.m., well dressed, and super nice, just taking a chance. Never underestimate the power of being bold and courteous!”
4. Dress the Part. “Our dress code is part of our dining experience, and you should be aware of it. Dressing sharply and confidently is a great first step to playing the part.”
5. Be Persistent and Come Often. “It will probably take several visits to build a track record and achieve ‘regular status’—we have some regulars who have dined with us over 300 times! If we can’t give you your requested reservation time the first time you call be flexible and call back later to see if there’s room to adjust. Keep checking back in, and even come by in person. When others cancel and openings come up, we often give those spots to the people who have been present and persistent.”