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.
STK Miami General Manager, Bennett Goldman learned from his father "to always do right and to treat people with respect." Even when those people are starving and waiting for a table at one of South Beach's sceniest steakhouses. With experience running the V.I.P. area of the now defunct Grass Restaurant and Lounge and as bar manager of the rooftop of the hotel formerly known as the Gansevoort, Goldman, a classic car collector, took some time out of his busy schedule to give us the Gatekeeper goods.
It's 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. What's the wait for a table?
Just enough time to get a cocktail, smell the food and feel the vibe.
What about earlier in the night?
Generally, there is not much of a wait time during the earlier part of the evening since we are known as a late-night dining and party destination.
Is there anything I can do to make my wait shorter? How about gifts or cash to speed things along?
All of STK’s guests are treated as VIPs, which means I try to get everyone seated in the most timely manner. However, a good attitude and a smile gets you a long way.
How many seats are in the restaurant?
Roughly 275 because certain sections can be adjusted as needed.
Tell us about your favorite customers.
My favorite customers are those that come in wanting and truly appreciate the entire STK experience—from food, music to the upbeat atmosphere. I love when guests feel comfortable. I like the customers that have created a relationship with us and feel that STK is ‘their’ spot. Those individuals that treat us like we are ‘not your Daddy’s steak house.’
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?
I don’t give any celebrity special treatment—I recognize and acknowledge them, but give them their space. This is part of the reason while they are regulars at STK. The best tippers are usually NOT the celebrities.
How do you deal with VIPs when there are no tables left to give?
I am sincere about our limited availability and personally take them to the lounge/bar area for cocktails while they wait. Due to STK's great lounge and upbeat atmosphere, this usually does the trick. Unfortunately, guests need to understand that regardless of who they are, if we don’t have a seat to put them in, then they just have to wait.
What's the most outrageous request from a customer that you've accommodated?
For you steakhouse lovers, we accommodated a butterfly, black & blue, medium-well porter house. Let me say it was notttttt easy, but it was accomplished.
Any requests you couldn't accommodate?
What's your favorite seat in the house?
Tables 222—dead center middle of the dining room, overlooking the dance floor and the main bar.
Any secret off the menu items people can order?
Jumbo Garlic Shrimp—athlete’s favorite!
When you're not at STK, where are you eating?
Captain's Tavern—Russian oysters, stone crab cocktail, 5lb stuffed Maine lobster, blonde brownie with cinnamon ice cream. Oh Yeaaaaa!
What's your most important gatekeeper tool?
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Photo by Jillian Rachel Photography