This is The Gatekeepers, in which Eater roams the city meeting the fine ladies and gentlemen that stand between you and some of your favorite hard-to-get tables.
The look may has changed, but when it comes to the front of the house at The Forge, one thing's consistent: Joseph Day, the restaurant's Director of Operations, who has seen it all in his 12 years in manning the Miami Beach landmark.
It's 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. What's the wait for a table?
We book our tables in a way to have the shortest wait possible.
What about earlier in the night?
Reservations anytime are always recommended.
Is there anything I can do to make my wait shorter? How about gifts or cash to speed things along?
Make a reservation and ask the reservationist if that is a time that is very popular. If it is, I suggest booking a table 30 minutes earlier to avoid the opportunity for a wait, as well as having potential for a better table.
How many seats are in the restaurant?
Tell us about your favorite customers.
My favorite customers are the ones I have known for several years and I see them 2 or three times a week.
Do you get a lot of celebrities---real celebrities, not reality stars or celebs in their own minds?
We get a lot of the A-list “royalty.” Some of our guests are shocked when they get to see who is sitting right next to them in the dining room.
How do you deal with VIPs when there are no tables left to give?
99% of all VIPs generally have their time managed and have a table secured in advance.
What's the most outrageous request from a customer that you've accommodated?
A party of 20 that decided while having dinner, they wanted to go to Mexico. While they dined, I booked hotels, flights, limos and 6 hours later - they were on a jet.
Any requests you couldn't accommodate?
I have had some wild requests and we’ll have to leave it at that?.
What's your favorite seat in the house?
Any secret off the menu items people can order?
When you're not at The Forge, where are you eating?
Cooking at home or eating out at Joey’s in Wynwood.
What's your most important gatekeeper tool?
I don’t necessarily consider myself to be a gatekeeper as much as I consider myself to be a great host. My most important host “tool(s)” would be my charming personality and a high level of patience.