GREATEST HITS: PX This [The Blahg]
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"What’s the deal with New York Magazine / GrubStreet’s "Two for Eight"? Is it all just bullshit or what?"
TUESDAY, JUNE 9, 2009. 11:18AM
this is the THIRD time i’ve caught a discrepancy in their uhhh "reporting."
as you may or may not recall, i previously posted about the other two times in the [private, password-protected, soon-to-be-defunct] "members’ only forum"–
specifically, i said this:
May 29, 2009, 11:18 AM
… last night was dinner at CentroVinoteca. and the place was slammed.
and that made me think "huh." cuz the day before, i had called the restaurant to try and make a reservation for friends of mine (who had tried themselves, but couldn’t get a table). and even though the hostess was very sweet saying they could accommodate me, i could tell it was going to be a bit of a nightmare for them so i told them never mind. and then i made arrangements with my friend to dine together with them another time instead, and so that made everybody happy and satisfied.
lo and behold i look yesterday morning and i see on grubstreet: "Tables Available at Centro Vinoteca" for two at 8pm.
and so last night i mentioned this to one of the managers in charge of the reservationists. and he personally told me: "it’s IMPOSSIBLE. there was no way grubstreet was offered an 8pm table at 4pm. WE WERE BOOKED."
i also happpen to know there was also another time grubstreet had the same "Centro… Tables Available…" title but when you clicked on the link, it stated there was in fact "no" table available.
but when i pointed the discrepancy out in the comments section, they merely crossed out their previous entry and changed it to suit their title.
yesterday i happen to look and AGAIN i see: "Tables Available at Centro Vinoteca and Trestle on Tenth; Allen & Delancey Mostly Booked"
and i think to myself: "really? REALLY?! if Allen&Delancey is AGAIN ‘mostly booked’ with a ‘nearest availability at 6:45pm’ on a MONDAY night with RAIN in the forecast, then that is pretty incredible. as a matter of fact, it’s so incredible, i would like to see this for myself. obviously they are doing something right, and perhaps i should go and see it with my own eyes and then i can LEARN something about what they are doing so right."
mmhmp. yah– oh i learned something all right.
– firstly i phoned Allen&Delancey myself at 6pm. and SOMEHOW i managed to score a reservation for two at a time much MUCH closer to an 8PM time slot than the reported "earliest availability" at "6:45." i was even told "it would be a pleasure" to accommodate me (twice even). and in case you were wondering whether it was my totally awesome PXness that got me the table— no. sorry. i booked it under a pseudonym.
– i (and my guest) then arrived at Allen&Delancey a tad early– at 7pm.
there was ONE couple at the bar and two deuces in the dining room.
– i promptly phoned CentroVinoteca and inquired "heyyyy… just curious… how many people are at your bar right now (at 7PM)…?"
i was told: "18 people at the bar. and 4 deuces in the dining room."
– so then i asked: "and are you booked at 8pm by any chance?"
the answer: why yes! they are! (imagine that!) but they have an availability later in the evening if i’d like, but sorrrrry– not quite at 8pm.
hmm. really. well that’s interesting.
by the time 8:05pm rolled around, Allen&Delancey had seated one 8-top, and two more deuces. plus one other couple at the bar (totaling 6 covers in the front bar area, and 16 in the dining room).
does that sound like "mostly booked" to you?
(by the way– A&D, much like Centro, has approximately 12 seats at the bar and about 70 seats in the dining room.)
it’s no secret i have disagreed with Eater many times in the past. but AT LEAST their resy-whateverthefuck thing they run (which grubstreet, arguably, did bite off Eater) has the number of ring-a-dings, and the exact response given, and sometimes even the name of the person who answered the phone and whatnot.
i must admit– it DOES add a bit of plausibility (not to mention entertainment value) to the whole sordid exercise.
which brings me to my point:
– what IS the point, do you think, of this whole "two for eight" bit, hmm?
i mean– OSTENSIBLY, they are trying to do the restaurants and patrons some kind of favor or something, yes?
but, having inquired over and over again– it seems there is, in fact, no value in this for the restaurant OR patrons, as CentroVinoteca (for example– look ! "all grub street posts tagged ‘Centro Vinoteca + two for eight’ **— all 50 times — a good 2 to 3 times MORE than any other restaurant on that list!) has confirmed that NEVER since its inception has ANY customer EVER expressed their last-minute reservation and/or arrival was due to the awesome efficiency and convenience of grubstreet’s "Two for Eight."
[in contrast however, "Top Chef" is invoked innumerable times, as are leah-cohen‘s recent appearances on the cover of the NY Times City section and CBS’s weekend Morning Show.]
yah so— incidentally, my dining companion while all this was happening last night, just happens to be a restaurateur.
his take on the matter (?):
"i don’t get it. what’s the point of this? it doesn’t make me happy to hear other restaurants aren’t doing so well."
maybe it doesn’t make HIM happy
but i guess it makes SOMEONE happy.
at the very least, as an avid and devoted reader (and fan!) of grubstreet, i would kinda looove to hear them explain what’s going on here.
but hey, maybe that’s just me.
** UPDATE: Well, lookee here— the hyperlink provided no longer allows viewers to see how many times a particular restaurant has been featured in Grubstreet’s "Two for Eight." Imagine that! Good thing we’ve got a screen capture!
This is an abbreviated version of Abbe Diaz’s diary/blog entry on June 9, 2009, for archival purposes only. A far more detailed, thorough, and incisive account is to be included in Diaz’s upcoming second book, PX This Too (The Sequel to PX This) – Coming in the Autumn of 2010
* "…The intellectual community, as usual, showed itself to be timid and divided, and even the most unexpected graphologists engaged in controversies regarding their inconsistent analyses of my handwriting. It was they who divided opinions, overheated the polemic, and made nostalgia popular…. Make no mistake: peaceful madmen are ahead of the future." – Gabriel García Márquez
NOTE: Unless otherwise dated, the comments listed below reflect the discussion that occurred in the Forum @ PX This subsequently, at the time of the original entry. They have been re-created here. If you require an un-edited copy of the original discussion, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org