Unlike the rest of the world, Hollywood residents don't go to restaurants for the purpose of dining. Certainly not. They go to be seen dining. And to see others who are dining. One's own place in the food chain is maintained by eating at the hottest restaurant. Since this designation changes more often than Madonna's hair color, it's challenging to keep up. It's even harder when a new restaurant is so exclusive there's no visible signage outside.Such is the case with X. (I'm trying to get in the spirit by not mentioning the name. But I'll probably cave and give it up at the end.) Contrary to the old adage, "There's no such thing as bad publicity,
the trick to being an ultra-exclusive restaurant is avoiding publicity altogether.
I decided to try to contact this unmentionable establishment's PR rep for the skinny. I know what you're thinking: Why would they have a publicist if they desire no publicity? Well, someone had to come up with this wily strategy, right? I imagined a clever flack daringly proposing (but not before cashing the check) to the owners, "How about promoting by not? I mean, don't even put up a lousy sign. Within weeks, envious would-be patrons will be saying, 'That place is so popular no one goes there.'"
Gold. Pure gold.
So anyway, I called the place, hoping to commend this PR maestro - and perhaps finagle a reservation.
A surprisingly sweet voice told me the restaurant had no publicist. Stunned but determined, I pushed my luck and asked to speak to the manager.
I was on hold for five minutes, then the line went dead. Clearly, someone knew security was being breached. Barbarians were at the gate, and they had no reservations.
Shortly after, however, an LA Times food critic managed to infiltrate.
Though I have no use for food critics - I say they should be force-fed bologna sandwiches and stale chips until they burst - I must applaud the plucky foodie who got inside and then shared her intelligence: the food's good and there are books on the walls. (For the benefit of confused Angelenos, a helpful sign says, "These are books.")
Enamored with this "exclusivity-anonymity
concept, I'm opening my own signage-free restaurant and taking it a step further. There will be no chairs or tables, no plates or food. Patrons will simply stand awkwardly for two hours, then leave. They'll depart hungry, but smug, whispering, "I can't believe we finally got in. Wait till I tell Teri."
Oh, OK: the name of the place is Firefly. Or was it Flyfire? I'll check with my friend at the FBI and get back to you.
Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer.