Service of No Room at the Bar for Women: A New Kind of Discrimination

January 21st, 2019

Categories: Arrogance, Restaurant, Rules

Photo: grubstreet.com

I know men and women who, especially when eating alone, prefer sitting at the bar in a restaurant. Look at the images of comfortable seating that illustrate this post. Clementine Crawford, a well-travelled executive does and during many visits to the Big Apple she sat at the bar at her favorite watering hole: Restaurant Nello on Madison Avenue.

On her last stopover she was told to get up from the bar and to sit at a table. The bar was suddenly off limits to women alone at this Italian eatery–which  is no neighborhood pizzeria. Google touts it as a place “only for Jay Z or Russian billionaires,” which given its reputation for charging $275 for a plate of white truffle pasta is no surprise.

Photo: tastingtable.com

I read Stephanie Maida’s coverage of how this new rule was discovered. She highlighted Crawford’s experience from her essay, “The Night I was Mistaken for a Call Girl.” Quoting Crawford Maida wrote on guestofaguest.com: “‘I perched at my favorite seat at the bar and started to respond to all the emails that had arrived on the flight over,’ she explains. ‘A waiter approached – a familiar face, but oddly hesitant on this occasion. He advised – with evident embarrassment – that I was no longer permitted to eat at my usual spot and that I must now sit down at a table.'”

Men could eat alone at the bar Crawford observed on a second visit.

“Crawford learned ‘that the owner had ordered a crackdown on hookers’ and assumed management believed ‘upscale escorts working the bar lowered the tone of the place and would be less obvious if escorted behind a table.’”

Photo: Verbinet.com

Maida reported “She spoke to an owner, explained that she had been misidentified, and he responded ‘that he could run his business as he pleased, and that [she] was no longer welcome to eat at the bar, only at a table.’”

Having been evicted from my favorite perch I wouldn’t return to this place. This is New York City: We have 24,000 restaurants here, according to one estimate, and I’m sure a few would charge  hundreds of dollars for a plate of pasta to satisfy the insecure.

Restaurant Nello, with its bar rule, has propelled us back to the Victorian era. Was this a clumsy attempt by management to generate publicity? Do you like to eat at the bar? Why do people agree to subject themselves to such arrogance at any price? Have you heard of rules like this in other restaurants in this country?

Photo: lessings.com

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10 Responses to “Service of No Room at the Bar for Women: A New Kind of Discrimination”

  1. Martin Johnson Said:

    Yes, it is a throwback to Victorian times and not consistent with the moral and legal definitions of equality. It actually may be illegal to evict a woman from a bar perch, unless men were treated similarly. Equal protection? Maybe these single guys are male hookers? Sure I can understand that the owner worries that he or she may get the “wrong” reputation, but this is not where or how it always happens. Anyway, it’s a stupid precaution.

    Martin

  2. jmbyington Said:

    Martin,

    I figured it might be illegal. Regardless you couldn’t drag me into a place like this. I’m allergic to ridiculous prices and the approach to making guests feel at home is a joke. A bunch of women should take every other seat at the bar being sure not to speak with one another so they are alone and keep it up all day. Let the owner call the police.

  3. Ramona Flood Said:

    Ramona wrote on Facebook: Outrageous!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Ramona,

    Agreed! They never heard of gigolos or male prostitutes? The restaurant should set itself up with a board of directors, like a co-op or private club, and suffer the subsequent decrease in business.

  5. EAM Said:

    EAM wrote on Facebook: It’s his restaurant but I wouldn’t go there and it seems too pretentious!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    EAM,

    And the owner is unrealistic, for a man conducting business in NYC, and arrogant on top of it.

  7. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie wrote on Facebook: EAM it is an over priced hang out for rich kids (of all ages). As a single woman I PREFER to eat at the bar so I’m not invisible & I have the company of the staff + a view of the crowd (who can see me too!)

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    It depends on my mood but I’ve enjoyed many a meal at a bar with a friend or not. Used to be that women eating alone would be given the worst table in the place –out of sight. But since women have hefty disposable incomes in addition to terrific jobs, this is no longer the case–until now at Restaurant Nello.

  9. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie wrote on Facebook: Correct (a way to gain attention) maybe business is down LOL!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    That was one of the questions in my blog post: publicity stunt? (If a poor one).

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