You have a client in town who wants to eat at Jean Georges. Day of. You call a trusted, uh, friend and manage to book a table last-minute.
Once seated, the maître d’ comes over to greet you by name and offer your favorite drink. He also knows you’re allergic to almonds and like your fish very rare.
That’s what you get with INHOUSE, New York’s new members-only club for restaurant lovers.
Founded by Benjy Leibowitz, former Director of Guest Relations at the Nomad, Inhouse brings together industry pros and hospitality enthusiasts to celebrate New York’s dining culture and throw some seriously memorable experiences for all involved.
They’re not foodies. They’ve for the most part banned the word concierge. They’re merely lovers of good hospitality, and aim to engender that value by making their members feel like “regulars” at the 50+ restaurants in their network.
“There's no better way to dine than as a regular,” say Leibowitz. “And there's no better guest in your dining room than a regular."
As for which dining rooms? Inhouse’s roster of restaurant partners is a who’s who of New York’s best: Blue Hill at Stone Farms, Prime Meats, Jean Georges, Babbo, Charlie Bird, Cosme. And their members are also diverse, ranging in age from 20 to 80 years.
There are currently three membership levels. The Hospitalitarian ($1,550 per year) offers up Inhouse’s priority booking platform, access to all member events, private-dining consultation and a monthly newsletter with recommendations. It’s available exclusively to London and Tri-State Area residents. The Traveler gets the same access at a reduced rate ($625) for people who live outside of those cities. Then there’s the Cultural Ambassador, which is available to journalists, artists and industry creatives who can contribute to Inhouse’s mission (dues available on request).
And while their members come in all shapes and sizes, we thought it wouldn’t hurt to tap Lebowitz and get his tips on how to become a restaurant regular … beyond joining Inhouse, that is.
1) Engage with your server/bartender. If they can tell you’re into the experience, they’ll want to build a relationship just as much as you do.
2) If you’re having a great time, let the team know! There's no such thing as being a passive regular. It's a two-way relationship.
3) Introduce yourself to anyone with whom you make a connection. Make a point to get their name. That’ll make it easier to reconnect next time.
4) Share your praise with the door on the way out and introduce yourself. They’re the first people you’ll see on your return to the restaurant.
5) If you have a great experience, return soon after your first visit to reconnect with the team. But keep in mind that true relationships take time. You're braising, not deep frying.
Main image via Jean Georges