To truly be a regular at some of the best restaurants in the world, you have to be willing to spend some serious cash and be on your best behavior.
In her new book “Cork Dork,” journalist Bianca Bosker writes about her immersion into the world of sommeliers and big wine spenders. As part of her training, she shadowed a certified sommelier and made the rounds at Marea, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant by Chef Michael White in New York City.
The restaurant’s service is a carefully crafted performance, from the impeccable attire of the staff to the yacht-like interior of the restaurant itself.
“Restaurants like Marea are Disneylands for moguls,” Bosker writes.
Bosker learned that the restaurant has its own system of categorizing who should be prioritized for receiving the best service. Marea has a file for all of its guests, noting each one’s quirks, dining history, and importance to the restaurant’s management. All of this information is communicated to wait staff and sommeliers so they know how to interact with the table and sell them as much wine as possible.
There’s something called a PX, “short for personne extraordinaire, restaurant code for ‘spends dough,’” Bosker writes.
“It’s appended to reservations made by big spenders, owners’ friends, high-rolling regulars, and special guests, like Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, who’d be coming in tonight at eight. They are to be coddled, spoiled, humored, and upsold at all costs.”
Some restaurants will also use “VIP” or “BLR,” short for “baller,” to label this group of guests.
At Marea, some back-of-house tickets will be labeled “ATG,” meaning “according to Google” — for example, “ATG investment banking analyst at Barclays Capital.” The labels get even more specific than that: there’s “occasional wine PX,” “wine PX has-been,” “PPX (personne particulièrement extraordinaire),” “F/O (friend of) Owner,” and “HWC (handle with care).”
If you’re in especially poor form, Marea staff might label you “86 DO NOT ACCEPT.” But if you’re polite and especially generous with your money, you could be labeled “NEVER REFUSE.”
It’s worth considering the next time you endeavor to make a reservation at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
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