Has Brooklyn Ruined New York’s Restaurant Scene?

  • Ken Goldfield/NYDN

Now, nobody really likes waiting in line for things. I think that’s a pretty innocuous statement that everybody can agree on? Lines are one of the worst parts of living in New York, and if I had my way we’d all be taking way more serious steps to eradicate them, ideally via common sense government mandates, like, oh, forcing cool restaurants to actually act in the interest of their customers and just take reservations for people who are eager to pay money to eat their food. I think that would be a nice thing. But I don’t think that it’s a problem that relates specifically to Brooklyn.

The Daily News disagrees, though, and published sort of a weird, low-key exposé this weekend listing off a series of “hip borough restaurants [that] refuse to pencil anyone in,” like Roberta’s, Pok Pok, and Grimaldi’s, along with the entire “sub-economy” of nearby bars and restaurants that has cropped up in service of people who find themselves with 2 hours to kill before dinner.

“I feel very fortunate that people will wait for a table,” Buttermilk Channel owner Doug Crowell told the paper. “If all the people who came in at 8 p.m. had to eat at 8 p.m. and just left and went somewhere else, that would really be bad for us. We really depend on some people waiting.” There are also plenty of pull quotes from angry, hungry people stuck in line at Roberta’s and Talde.

Which makes enough sense! From the perspective of everyone involved! What doesn’t make as much sense is to try to paint this as a “Brooklyn hipster nonsense” issue, ignoring the pretty prominent Manhattan-based examples to the contrary (Mission Chinese and the Breslin come to mind) that actually render this an issue of “multi-borough, industry-wide nonsense.” If we’re going to complain about this—which I am down to do, literally any time—let’s at least complain about it correctly.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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