In Defense of the Bitchy Hostess: Feral Cat Scratches Back

via Flickr/Katie Hunt
Hi there, remember me? I'm Feral Hostess Cat, one of Laura Shunk's 10 worst people in NYC restaurants. I work the door at Chez Bowery, that new pseudo-casual, nose-to-tail, artisanal downtown comfort food joint everyone's just dying to try.

Before you write me off as a cold, callous bitch from hell, you should know that in real life, I'm super nice and I generally like people (I'm hired based on these qualities and a few other ... assets), and it's my entire job to preserve order at the door. I get a bad name when people fail to understand and follow a simple rules of engagement for eating out.

So let's clarify a few things.

If you've ever shown up for a reservation and been able to sit down right away, you can thank me for that. Without me, see, your typical dining experience could well resemble a pack of mad hyenas scrambling for the last bloody bits of gazelle on the African Savannah. The gazelles are seats in my dining room. The hyenas are the hapless masses trying to dine at Chez Bowery. So if I come off as cat-like, it's because I'm the lioness guarding the edge of the savannah so my cubs--those diners already seated--can feed in peace.

You should know better than to fuck with a mama lion. And if you were a cub, you'd be grateful to have my blood-red, gel-coated claws to protect you. You'd understand that these five-inch stilettos help me retain the authority required to protect my post ... and kill me now if I ever lose that.

How do you become a cub, you ask? Excellent question!

Make a reservation. We hostess-cats favor people with the foresight to call ahead and ask us to hold a table for them. Try it, and suddenly you'll see me not as the arch-nemesis trying to keep you out, but as your third-grade BFF who always saved a seat for you. All you have to do is call and ask. And not 15 minutes before you arrive; that's called walk-in dining. Do that, and you're still a hyena.

Pro tip: If you're not sure when you'd like to come, book a reservation a couple weeks early and reschedule if you can't make it.

You could also come often and be nice when you do. Like any felines, hostess-cats love familiar faces; polite, friendly people we've seen before and know we'll see again. In the restaurant business, we call these people "regulars," and it's one of our top priorities to keep them happy so they keep coming back. Regulars get special privileges like skipping the line when they don't have a reservation, reserved seats at the bar, great tables, and other perks that are off-limits to hyenas; they are our very best cubs.

Insider scoop: We keep notes on everyone, including what tables they like, anniversaries and birthdays, and past celebrations they've shared with us. This allows everyone on staff to provide personalized service.

Extra insider scoop: We also take notes when you're rude, unreasonable, high-maintenance, or a poor tipper. You gave me your name, remember? See me clacking on my keyboard? I'm not typing your name over and over.

Finally, be polite and patient and follow instructions. If we ask you to come back in 20 minutes, come back in 20 minutes, and you'll likely get seated. Bonus if you bring us treats. We love candy and sweet, carb-loaded snacks like cookies. Hostess-cats are almost always starving and on the verge of hypoglycemic collapse.

Oh, look, there's someone at the door now, a Wall Street middle-management type walking in with determination. It's been a pleasure chatting with you, but your table isn't ready yet. So watch closely, and we'll explore how my night plays out as I try to protect my turf.

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