In 2013, the scourge of entitled Yelpers reached its peak when a man invented the “ReviewerCard” — a black credit card that allowed reviewers to have a “lifetime of upgrades” by scaring businesses into giving them good service. Don’t want to wait for a table? Flash a ReviewerCard. Feel like your server is ignoring you? Just carefully slide out your shiny black card that tells the world just how important you are.
The card didn’t go far, yet the feelings that caused a man to create this blackmail-note-in-credit-card-form are familiar to most restaurant-goers. “Everyone wants to feel important,” says Israel Morales, co-owner of Kachka restaurant in Portland, Oregon. “Every restaurateur would like to treat everyone the same way — and it looks good on paper to say that we do — but it’s not really the case.” Though restaurants aim to give everyone good service, regulars, big spenders, and friends of the staff often get special treatment in the form of a better table, free cocktails at the bar, or maybe even a few surprise courses courtesy of the chef.
And the best restaurants make their VIPs feel important without ever letting their other guests know that they’re second tier: Preparing for VIPs is a quiet dance that happens largely behind the scenes.