Differences in bicoastal dining

Rubicon was restaurateur Drew Nieporent’s only West Coast business.
I’m fascinated by the subtle and not so subtle differences between the East and West coasts, and I’ve quoted Drew Nieporent several times in the blog about his observations as a bicoastal restaurateur.
I caught up with him in New York last week and found that some things he told me last year haven’t changed.
He said he’d like to open up in San Francisco again if the right opportunity comes along. While New York is home, he loves the vitality of the West Coast. He reiterated his beliefs about the differences between diners on either coast.
At Rubicon, few people complained about being seated upstairs; at Corton, the biggest complaint is seating. When I was at Corton, he took a customer to a table in the corner, next to the kitchen wall that has a long narrow glass insert so that diners are protected from, but still get a glimpse of cooking action. The customer refused to be by the kitchen, which in Nieporent’s mind was one of the best tables.
He says that in New York, there’s always a jockeying for position and that the food is often less important to diners than where they sit. In San Francisco, the food is by far the most important element.
Another aspect I found interesting is his experience with OpenTable. This online reservation service worked beautifully in San Francisco, but is a bust at Corton.
He said one night he had more than 20 no-shows, which is one-third of the restaurant. In San Francisco, most people honor the online reservations. In New York he finds that many people use fake names and numbers. There are even several online businesses that make reservations to sell them to last-minute diners and don’t bother to cancel if they can’t sell the reservation.
Because of these ongoing problems, he blocks out most of the tables on OpenTable, forcing diners to call the restaurant.
Posted By: Michael Bauer (Email) January 29 2009 at 05:18 AM
Listed Under: Reservations Comments (33) : Post Comment

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