This is The Gatekeepers, wherein Eater roams the City to meet the fine men and women standing between you and some of your favorite dining destinations.
Michael Mina, Rajat Parr and company opened RN74 on the ground floor of the Millennium Tower back in April, and almost immediately, the wine-centric restaurant became a see-and-be-seen hotspot for everyone from the office crowd and wine snobs to late-night industry folks and even one Mr. A-Rod. But despite the snazzy AvroKO design, RN74 not a particularly large restaurant (see the seating breakdown below), which means that it's in your benefit to know the two gentlemen pictured here, especially if you want to snag one of the booths.
Tim Flowers, General Manager at RN74: [Seats-wise] 75 in the Dining Room, 60 in the Bar/Lounge. The booths are my favorite, especially table #37 under the train board (only seats three to four people). We also have additional seating in the atrium which is great during Happy Hour or for events. 8 PM on a Saturday night. What’s the wait for a table? Hopefully no longer than 15-20 minutes!
Is there anything that can be said to make the wait shorter? No…small room, but fortunately we have the wine bar to keep the guest occupied. Ever been offered gifts or cash? Not so far…I would have to decline anyway, we try to be fair to ones who have booked a reservation.
Tell us about your favorite customers. My favorite customers are the ones who give you feedback about their dining experience…positive of course. Any celebs been by recently? John Madden, Joe Montana, Alex Rodriquez, Sean Penn, Kate Hudson
How do you deal with VIPs, when there are no tables left to give? Most VIP’s are ok to wait a bit for their table, especially if you acknowledge them right away. A glass of Champagne or appetizer would be offered while they wait. Willie Brown declared Table 41 (“the first booth on the right behind the maitre d'”) one of the best in town. What happens if he strolls in and can’t get it? So far we’ve been able to accommodate Willie with his request for table #41, however we do have a few other VIP’s who really enjoy that table, let’s hope they don’t all book on the same evening.
What’s the most outrageous request from a customer you’ve had to accommodate? A side of ice with a great glass of burgundy. ...that you couldn’t accommodate? We certainly try to accommodate all requests, but on a beautiful sunny day a guest asked if we could move their table from the dining room to the sidewalk out front on Mission Street. (sorry, no patio permit)
Where are you eating when you're not at RN74? Anywhere in the Ferry Building, especially the Saturday Farmers Market. Now that RN74 has about eight months under its belt, how has the restaurant evolved since opening? We have been extremely fortunate to have kept the momentum up since opening, we are seeing quite a few guests return again and again, that’s always a good sign.
What’s the best item on the menu that people should know about? I really like the items on the wine bar menu, Mushroom Tempura, Sturgeon Rilletts, Hamachi Collar and the Chicken Croquettes. All are great for sharing with a cocktail or glass of wine. RN74 is a unique restaurant, and we’re guessing that vast wine program does encourage some people to linger. What do you do when another reservation needs the table? We do have some flexibility to offer the lounge before or after the meal to enjoy their wine selection, certainly it completes the experience.
At the end of the day, what’s the one Gatekeeper tool you need to do your job? Customers coming through the door and of course our talented staff!
Assistant GM Marko Sotto and GM Tim Flowers. [Photo: Jennifer Yin, 12/23/09]