Last year, following the Spitzer scandal, the management at One If by Land, Two If by Sea, a mainstay of the New York candlelit-date circuit, decided to hold a pre-Valentine’s Day staff briefing. “We find that on February 13 a lot of men bring in their girlfriends, and on Valentine’s Day they bring their wives,” says general manager Rebecca Martino. “It’s been so common, and in light of what happened, it just made sense to get everyone on the same page.”
Martino adds that whenever a regular client shows up with an unfamiliar woman, the staff policy is to start the evening by acting like they’ve never seen him before (a tactic also rumored to be part of the Ritz’s training instructions). If the woman gets up to go to the ladies room, a manager or senior waiter will take the opportunity to greet the customer, and—ideally—get some instructions on how familiar to act.
Even so, some places aren’t taking any chances. The self-described “Moroccan fantasy restaurant” Le Souk Harem in Manhattan recently decided to require all staff members to sign a letter of confidentiality assuring that they won’t divulge anything they see or hear. “We had to; they see and hear a lot,” says the restaurant’s publicist, Steven Hall.