David Martinez could write a book on gatekeeping, keeping things in order at not one, but three restaurants, which he co-owns with his famous chef wife, Michelle Bernstein. Whether it's at Michy's, Sra. Martinez, or Crumb on Parchment, Martinez has it covered. Unless, of course, you come in with a pet monkey. That's another story.
It's 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. What's the wait for a table?
It depends on how many people in your party, but usually about one hour.
What about earlier in the night?
We open at 6 pm, you can walk in between 6-7 and we can usually find a table pretty quickly for you.
Is there anything I can do to make my wait shorter? How about gifts or cash to speed things along?
I always say kindness is what makes you get a table faster, but also a little patience. Have some drinks at the bar with your friends or family.
Tell us about your favorite customers.
We have a lot of regulars that come in, guests that our entire staff recognize the moment they walk though the door. We know their names and they usually know exactly what they want. I would say those are our favorite customers.
You get a lot of celebrities – real celebrities, not reality stars or celebs in their own minds. What sort of special treatment do you give them? Who's been the biggest tipper?
The only special treatment they receive is maybe a more private table so no one disturbs them. We like to treat all our customers equally. The biggest tipper was not a celebrity, but a regular of ours, and it was in the thousands.
How do you deal with VIPs when there are no tables left to give them?
You just make it happen. If someone has my cell phone they always call me last minute. Sometimes we have to make up new table numbers, but they always get a table.
What's the most outrageous request from a customer that you've accommodated?
Someone asked Michelle to make him a tasting menu but he wanted all foods to be pureed as he was on a special diet. Five courses of pureed food, luckily he comes in frequently but is off his diet!
Any requests you couldn't accommodate?
Someone came in with a pet monkey once and tried to get a table. Sorry!
What's your favorite seat in the house(s)?
The bar, you can see all the action from there.
Any secret off the menu items people can order?
We do a lot of items off the menu. If we have it in house, you can have it. Sometimes we make up entire tasting menus for tables that consist entirely of items off the menu.
When you're not at Sra. Martinez or Michy's or Crumb on Parchment, where are you eating?
At home with my family.
What's your most important gatekeeper tool?