VIP treatment is real, and you’re probably not getting it—that’s the unfortunate truth that most of us must encounter every time we step into a restaurant. While a good place tries to put its best foot forward for every customer who walks through the door, it’s a fact that “best” is a sliding scale.
You’ve seen it happen: extra courses landing on a table that ordered the same damn tasting menu you did, chefs coming by to chitchat with people that appear to be their best friends in the world. Some of these are legitimately important people—investors, food-world elites, the chef’s mom—but surprising numbers of them are regular Joes just like you and me that the restaurant has decided it wants to keep around. Keeping regulars happy, or making the right new people feel so good that they want to become regulars, is crucial; that’s when restaurants start throwing around the good stuff.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Unless you’re trying to get in good at a mook den, nobody is going to blink twice if you show up flashing stacks, acting like you invented the gas oven. There are thousands of rich assholes who pull this number in New York, and for the most part, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. People who demand special treatment are reluctant to pay full price for their meal, make a server’s life a nightmare, and never tip enough. They’ll get the bare minimum—no more, and sometimes a lot less.
Most of the basic guidelines for good service are mainly synonyms for “don’t be an asshole.” Be polite, be respectful, be friendly—no kidding. But there are also some very simple, practical ways to get treated better than Donald Trump that aren’t as obvious, and that can make up the difference between a decent experience and an over-the-top, next-level one. Some of them can be put into play the minute you step into a new place, while some will kick in after a few repeat visits. Trust us, though, it’ll be worth it. Here, ten easy tricks for becoming the VIP you were born to be.