West Village restaurant Dame has a waitlist with more than 1,200 people on it.

TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE: New Yorkers pay thousands to snag restaurant reservations

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For months, Quincy Moore set his alarm for noon every day to try to land a reservation at British seafood spot Dame in Greenwich Village.

Walk-ins were impossible — a line starts forming outside the restaurant as early as 4:30 p.m. most weekdays — but Moore, who owns the clothing company New York or Nowhere, wasn’t having any luck on Resy either.

“I could never get into Dame. My wife was begging me to go for months, on months, on months – I kept missing reservation windows. At a certain point, we stopped trying. We struck out,” Moore, 35, told The Post of the popular joint, which has a 1,254-person waitlist for this Friday, according to the restaurant.

Getting a seat at a trendy NYC restaurant has never been harder. Searches for reservations at the beginning of 2022 across the country were up 107% compared to 2021, with nearly half (43%) looking for seats at higher-priced haunts, according to data from Yelp. In Manhattan, it can feel impossible to score something as simple as an ice cream cone without waiting. This past Friday, the line wrapped around the corner at Upper East Side sweets spot Anita La Mamma del Gelato.

West Village restaurant Dame has a waitlist with more than 1,200 people on it.
Stefano Giovannini

But for Moore, a loophole arrived when he discovered new food tech-startup Front of House. For $1,000, he bought a “subscription” to Dame, which gave him access to a year’s worth of reservations — one table per week, with 24 hours’ notice given to the restaurant.

“I get to skip the line,” said Moore, who tapped into his savings to foot the bill. “I’ll take friends, and they’ll probably buy dinner — at the end of the day, it all evens out. I love it there and wanted to be able to go more frequently.” 

Quincy Moore, 35, spent $1,000 to subscribe to Dame in the West Village, where he can now get restaurant reservation perks.
Quincy Moore, 35, spent $1,000 to subscribe to Dame in the West Village, where he can now get priority restaurant reservations for a year.
Getty Images for American Expres
Food highlights at Dame include the restaurant's signature fish and chips.
Food highlights at Dame include the restaurant’s signature fish and chips (right).
Evan Sung

Front of House — which accepts credit cards as well as crypto — partners with a dozen restaurants, offering users access to perks beyond just seamless reservations, such as first dibs on supper clubs and restaurant merch. Restaurants pocket 80% of the revenue from subscriptions, with Front of House keeping the balance.

“We wanted to create a way for you to easily get into restaurants and any of that currency is funneling back to the restaurant,” Phil Toronto, co-founder of Front of House, said of the startup that launched this month. “It’s a way for restaurants to reward their regulars.”

Status seating

Danielle Vreeland is tired of competing with tourists for tables.

“It’s really frustrating when you’re a local and you’re like, ‘I should be able to get a reservation,’ ” the Tribeca resident and fashion publicist told The Post.

Danielle at Emmett's in the West Village.
Danielle Vreeland at Emmett’s in the West Village.
Stefano Giovannini

And so Vreeland, 37, recently decided to try Front of House, too, buying a $300 pass to Chicago-style deep-dish joint Emmett’s in the West Village — which happens to be one of her favorite restaurants.

“It’s not enough just to know someone who works there anymore,” Vreeland said of the splurge, which entitles her to reservations for parties of two or four with 24-hours notice and access to upcoming pizza parties and restaurant merch.

She said it will save her the hassle of scouring for reservations. “Who has time to wait around on Resy? I knew this was something I would get a lot of use out of.” 

Danielle paid $300 via Front of House for access to dining perks like reservations and access to events, like an upcoming pizza party.
Vreeland flashing her digital dining pass for Emmett’s Supper Club. She paid $300 via Front of House for access to dining perks like reservations and access to events, like an upcoming pizza party.
Stefano Giovannini

Buying a subscription — or “collectible,” as Front of House calls it — offers diners instant VIP status.

“The people who purchase these things are usually big fans of the restaurant and want to secure last-minute reservations. It actually works pretty well, it’s like a friends and family way of booking,” Emmett Burke, owner of Emmett’s, told The Post, who added that the additional revenue generated through Front of House is also a perk.

Zach Erdem, Owner of 75 Main in Southampton.
Zach Erdem, owner of 75 Main in Southampton.
Estefany Molina

Bribe tribe

Other New Yorkers are still trying to score coveted reservations the old-fashioned way.

Hamptons-based restaurateur Zach Erdem, who owns hot spots such as 75 Main, said that so far this season he’s been gifted free rides on private jets, a Rolex watch, Gucci shoes and a $1,000 spa gift card all from eager eaters who want to be able to call for a table on demand. 

“My friend offered his boat — his kid loves my club, and they want to get in, not wait in line,” Erdem said, adding that he will accept some gifts like a box of cigars and the watch, but others, like private jet rides, have yet to be redeemed.

Zach Erdem (left), Curtis_Sliwa and John Catsimatidis.
Zach Erdem (left), Curtis Sliwa and John Catsimatidis.
Dennis A. Clark

Grocery magnate and 75 Main regular John Catsimatidis, meanwhile, has renewed what Erdem has dubbed “Cats’ Roundtable” — an eight-top table Catsimatidis has purchased again for the summer season for a cool $90,000, not including food, up from the $75,000 he paid last year, his rep confirmed to The Post.

The table ownership operates like New York City’s paid-table-only Italian restaurant Rao’s, and Catsimatidis has access to it at all times.

“His table will always be ready for him. We can’t use [it] unless I text him, and he’s not coming,” Erdem said.



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