breaking: new york restaurant hostesses are mean

Wow, look at my sweet ‘stache!!!

_igp0562My dreams of becoming the upstate J. D. Samson might not be dashed after all. (Don’t worry, that’s just chocolate on my hand. Or is it?)

Enough exhaustion-induced hijinx! I have serious news for you tonight, internet!

Breaking news, in fact, on the Dirt Candy front!


(Oh hey, also! Jacob and I [read: Jacob] built a lightbox photo-taking thingie! Thanks to blogreaders E and V for tips—it’s awesome. Super pro food photography is now mine! Oh, Jacob is making me say that these are just tester shots and are not truly representative of the greatness to come.)

Can I state first of all that I really want this restaurant to succeed? I do, truly: I feel not one bit of schadenfreude when reporting its annoyances (but I feel lots [for everyone else in the world] because I spelled schadenfreude right on the first try)—in fact, it’s because of my intense love of NYC veggie restaurants (and veggie restaurants in general) that I feel the need to hate on them in the name of making them better. I deeply believe in the whole a-rising-tide-lifts-all-boats idea, and I want there to be amazing veggie and vegan restaurants out there—not only so I can go to them on my infrequent jaunts out of my own kitchen, but more so that when I tell people my business is vegan they think of Hangawi (creativity and beauty), not Kate’s Joint (grease and hipster ick). Also, I like Amanda Cohen’s blog. And, as I said before, we have a mutual close friend, so I shouldn’t talk too much shit about her online.

But I’m going to anyway!


It is with annoyed sadness that I report that my sweetheart Jacob went to Dirt Candy tonight and was so incredibly rudely received that he didn’t even stay for a meal.

First, can I tell you about Jacob’s Palate? I feel the need to capitalize the name of his truly astonishing taste buds, because in our eleven years together I have watched his palate develop into a truly fearsome instrument. In addition to living with me while I was in cooking school/working in restaurants/launching my cooking business, his ramblin’ sound engineer/tour manager/band manager life has exposed him to amazing (and awful) vegan options (and lack thereof) in every single state in these here United States (he finally knocked down Alaska this summer), as well as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and pretty much everywhere else.

(Would you like to know the hardest time he’s ever had finding something to eat? I think it was the time when an unnamed beloved Americana singer-songwriter couple brought him to a certain festival in a certain state not only to be their tour manager and sound engineer, but also for the express purpose of enjoying seeing his Jewy vegan skinny “I-grew-up-in-the-Chelsea-Hotel* ass squirm at the backwoodsiness of it all. Their instructions to him were simple: “bring your own food, and be scared when people come up to you during our set and say that we’re not really country. If they use the word “folk,” bolt immediately.” He returned home wild-eyed and starving.).

In short: he’s sophisticated, and no bullshit veggie wrap will ever cross his lips. Jacob is not impressed easily. So, when he and our BFFs Black Gold (album out now! Show tonight in NYC!) sauntered up to a certain new veggie-but-decidedly-not-vegan restaurant at 8 PM on a frigid Wednesday night in the middle of a horrible economic recession, they did not expect the reception they got. When they politely (band boys are always polite, did you know that? It’s a little known fact.) said they didn’t have a reservation, but would be delighted if they could snag a table for 4, the hostess literally laughed in their faces. Literally! She then told them that if they wanted to leave their phone numbers, she would call them if a table became available, though it would probably be around 9:20-10.

Thusly chastened, they retreated to the neighboring bar to discuss tour routing (you and I would call this “what cities the tour should go to in what order”), and called the restaurant at 9:30. They were met with extreme haughtiness and told that if they wanted to come by in fifteen minutes a table might be opening. They traipsed over, and a different rude hostess said a table “might open up” in another fifteen minutes. Everyone understands about tiny restaurants having a wait, but not a single “I’m sorry” or token “thanks for coming” or anything was offered.

So they left, but not without Jacob peeking at the menu and reporting that nothing looked good.

Bleg, ick, and MEH.

I’m over Dirt Candy. (They went to Counter and it was perfectly fine.)

You could say that this attitude is the behavior of a few rogue employees, but I don’t buy that. When you own a restaurant, you are your employees—you know you will be judged by them, and you need to teach them how to act. Dirt Candy is getting a lot of press now, and I’m sure they are riding that wave of haughtiness that comes with quick success. What they have forgotten is this: NYC restaurant patrons are fickle, and new restaurants are opening all the time. Vegans, on the other hand, never forget a snub.


PS: Speaking of NYC veganness, how did I miss this?? I’ve been ignoring Supervegan lately, that’s how.


Behold! Isn’t it rad?



Update! PS: I emailed Than from Black Gold to get his take on the night, and here’s what he had to say:

Well I’d just add that when we first asked for a table, the super rude hostess laughed and huffed “NO!” Who says that?  Then she said maybe 9:20. She had a tremendous cloud of bad energy around her that I think bummed everyone out. Yeesh.

When we called back she said “well it won’t be til 9:45-10.” To which I replied “u said 9:20!” she then gave a bs answer, admitted she was wrong but did not apologize. To cap it off she said, with an insanely disrespectful take it or leave it attitude, “well if u want a table you can come back at 945 and we may have it.” so rude. So unprof! I wanted to kill.

I told Jacob I hereby hex those idiots and await their demise. Veg karma is a bitch!  Life Is too short to deal with people who have hate and neg energy in their heart, and consequently, in their food.

6 Responses to “breaking: new york restaurant hostesses are mean”

  1. Dustin Rhodes

    Damn it. I was hoping to hear about how the deep fried vegetables suck.

    I am surprised to hear that you like her blog. The tone matches the service your partner received: snotty and holier than thou (especially the line about how she hates our politics and our health—how generous). But maybe you didn’t mean it, and were trying to conjure your inner jesus by saying something nice, even if it was insincere; I don’t judge you, if that’s the case, because I don’t have a close in friend in common, so I can unabashedly say that I despise every little detail about that restaurant.

  2. lagusta

    I know. I am half annoyed by that line, but to be honest, as a chef I love the idea of food that is by its nature deeply political (vegan, local, organic, etc—not that hers is, I’m just saying I love the idea) being consumed by people who might not share the same politics. She’s not saying she is not political, she’s just saying she doesn’t care about our politics.

    And as someone who deeply does care about people’s health, but at the same time is often fed up by having to listen to her client’s uninformed ideas about what makes them healthy (“I couldn’t possibly touch a tomato!”), I must admit it’s liberating to hear a chef say they don’t care about health. Which, I know, most chefs don’t.

    Also, I’m pretty snotty and holier than thou on my own blog. But I’m not in real life (except for sometimes! But I wouldn’t be if I owned a damn restaurant, that’s for sure, you just can’t be, in my book), and she, or at least, her public face (her restaurant) is, and that’s what annoys me. It’s one thing to say you don’t care about the politics of your diners—it’s quite another to treat them like shit to their faces.

    Maybe that makes sense?

    Also, a true confession: I own and use a deep fryer! (Not for my clients, of course—just for my own gluttonous feasts. When I meet you Dustin, it’s inevitable, don’t you think?, I will fry you up some vegan sourdough onion rings that will melt your heart. And apple fritters. And fried sage. And and and and!)

  3. Dustin Rhodes

    Oh, god, Lagusta. You are so much nicer than me. I have so much to learn.

    There are so many built in problems with the written word, no? I didn’t at all read Cohen’s comments that way, but you are right: there are so many different ways they could be interpreted, and just because I am a bitter, (apparently) easily offended vegan, I can’t possibly find any generosity in their meaning. (I agree with your comments about health and politics).

    So, I’ll shut up. I want to believe that humans are much kinder than I usually think they are.

    I see your supposed holier-than-thou-ness as entertainment and enlightenment, although I don’t think you act that way on the internet at all. Since I don’t care about Britney Spears (sorry that I am comparing the two of you), your “snottiness” (although I don’t ever think you are snotty) is deeply entertaining and life-enriching—you know, the way Britney’s songs deeply touch some people.

    I love deep fried food, but you have no idea how afraid of deep fryers and pressure cookers I am. I am talking seriously afraid (of the machinery).

  4. lagusta

    Well, if it makes you feel better, I think she’s…

    Oh, I just had SO MUCH mean shit written about her, but why? Life is too short! I still have 2,000 truffles to make before tomorrow!

    Don’t be afraid of hot oil and exploding pressure cookers! Pressure cookers these days aren’t scary (old ones are though), and hot oil doesn’t hurt that much when you get it all over you–I’ve done it hundreds of times! ;)

    Thanks for the compliments!!

  5. Ilene

    This is tangential, but I cannot believe we are getting another vegan ice cream store within a stone’s throw of Lula’s Apothecary. Stogo’s cannot possibly have been unaware of the proximity. Are they trying to run Lula’s out of business, a la Starbucks? Or do they really think that 2 vegan ice cream stores are going to survive, in the middle of winter, even here in Vegan Village (aka the Lower East Side)? Guess which one is going to go under? Blythe, the cook behind Lula’s, is good people – an actual vegan and animal rights activist – who busted butt and risked a lot to get her shop up & running with her husband. I know it’s cold out, but go over there and have some yummy vegan ice cream, and have a chat about vegan stuff, or politics, or Bob Dylan, all passions of the owners. They’re on 6th between A & B and I think they’re open from Wednesday thru Saturday.

  6. ecclescake

    Omigush your auto-dispensing bins are just like the ones they finally upgraded to at my favorite local bulk grocery! I love using them. They just upgraded the manager, too, so maybe they’ll finally not be out of stock of everything all the time….

    Ahem. And that rig: sexxay!


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