Long time reader and first time poster here!
Anyway, I was curious about this subject and was hoping some of you can shed some light on this. I've noticed--based on my experiences, those of friends, and from what I've read online--that there can be some interesting perks for certain customers in higher end Manhattan restaurants. Obviously VIPs and friends of the house get these, but I'm more interested about the "treats" regulars, or more interestingly, first-timers can receive.
For example, I've heard it's not uncommon for folks to be offered a complimentary glass of champagne at Le Bernardin or Per Se--even if it's their first visit and they have no connections. Also, some "regulars" can get a few extra treats from the kitchen on occasion from Per Se, EMP, etc. I've always wondered why, for example, after I referred two different people (with no connections, not in the industry, and both ordering the same tasting menu) to Le Bernardin on separate occasions one was offered free champagne almost immediately and later the signature dessert egg, but the other received the standard (still excellent) experience.
That's the background, here are my two main questions:
1. What determines whether a first-timer is offered "special treatment," for lack of a better word? I don't mean to imply that the standard treatment is subpar, I'm just referring to things that go beyond the normal experience.
2. How is "regular" status determined at the top level of Manhattan restaurants, and how does this affect the dining experience? How many times must one dine to be considered a "regular" at Per Se, EMP, Daniel, etc? And does it even matter?
I look forward to everyone's responses and hope some people are as interested in this as I am. Thanks!
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