Jennifer Roe, age not disclosed
Maitre d', DC Coast Restaurant
WORKING THE CROWD: I started hosting in 1988, at the Occidental Restaurant. I'm a country girl from Ohio, so I was intimidated by the restaurant itself, not to mention all the famous customers. Sometimes I had trouble getting my work done, I was so starstruck. Now I have pictures on my wall at home of Quincy Jones and LL Cool J. I know people from all over D.C., and when I go home, I always have good stories.
MASTER PLAN: Up to 90 percent of our business is reserved. If you call early enough, you can get a reservation most anyplace; we accept them six weeks in advance. And many restaurants, like ours, now allow you to make reservations online, with OpenTable (www.opentable.com). I love having all my reservations on a computer. I once had someone walk out of here with my reservation book by accident and I thought I would die. With OpenTable, no one can walk out with my screen.
NO RESERVATIONS: If you can't get the day you want, call back once or twice, especially the morning of, when we confirm and get cancellations. Or come a few minutes before a place opens, around 5:30, or later in the evening, after 9 or 9:30. We get all kinds of stories from people: "Aw, it's my birthday, and, aw, it's my wife and my anniversary, oh, we're from out of town." Of course we sympathize with those people. But if you don't have a reservation, frankly, the best thing you can do is accept what you get.
BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE: I like to put famous people where everyone can see them. If they ask for something quiet, I'll seat them at table 67, upstairs off to itself, but it's not often someone asks me to be discreet. Michael Jordan never asked for an out-of-the-way corner. And when I go out, I don't like to sit where you can't experience the atmosphere.
IN THE CLUB: Being a regular has nothing to do with how much money you spend, what you wear or who you are. After people come here a few times, I introduce myself. I hate turning away people who support us that much. In the end, we take care of them all.
MONEY WALKS: I can't accept money for reservations. Some customers like to give me tips even when they have reservations, but it's not necessary. I would do as much for them if they never gave me a penny.
As told to Emily Kaiser