How to Beat the Dinner Rush, NYC Style

By Salma Abdelnour Posted July 26, 2007

Eating dinner late isn't the best thing you can do for your metabolism, but it has a huge upside—especially in cities like New York where everyone feels compelled to eat in the same restaurants at the same time.

Last night, after a cocktail party at a friend's Flatiron apartment, I swung by Madison Square Park to check in on the Shake Shack, just out of curiosity. How long would the line be at 9:39pm? Pretty short, turns out. I decided to stand in it—might as well—and top up my evening nourishment after some hours of wine, olives and cheese. (For those non-NYC'ers among you who've never seen the line here—in person or on the Shack's Web cam—it's very very long most of the time.) By 9:46 I'd reached the front, and by 9:54 I already had my food in hand, a juicy best-of-both-worlds, carnivore-meets-veggie burger: Shack Burger topped with a Shroom Burger (a fried, Muenster-cheese filled portobello slab). Total overkill, yes, but here a case of more is more.

On my way home I called up the sceney new Bowery Hotel restaurant Gemma—again, out of curiosity—to ask about the wait for a table of two. By now it was 10:24pm, and the receptionist eyeballed the wait at 15 minutes. Ever since Gemma opened a few weeks ago, it's been operating (officially) on a walk-in-only, no reservations basis. Two nights before, when I'd called Gemma anonymously at 8:30pm, the wait for two people was two hours, so my friend and I had veered off to the also-crowded (but high-turnover) new tapas spot Mercat nearby, to happily eat chickpeas with morcilla and the addictive peashoot-pinenut salad.

Moral of the story: If the wait for a table is two hours at 8:30pm, and 15 minutes at 10:24, well...I'm not a mathematician or a physicist (and certainly not a nutritionist), but I've got my own theory about space, time and energy.  

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