Welcome to The Gatekeepers, a monthly feature in which Eater roams the city meeting the fine ladies and gentlemen that stand between you and some of your favorite tough-to-get tables.
Elizabeth Daniels 10/12
The Corner Door quietly opened in June next to Waterloo & City and a stone's throw from Roy Choi's A-Frame, but has quickly become a beloved locals spot for Culver City and West LA denizens looking to relax, enjoy a quality cocktail, and dine on the season's best. The varied menu comes by way of chef Luke Reyes (The Tasting Kitchen), while the drinks stir and shake from the mind of head bartender Beau Du Bois (M.B. Post). Below, co-owner Todd Jerry shares the lowdown on how to score a seat and what it's like working the floor.
It's 8 p.m. on Saturday night. What's the wait for two? It'll be about fifteen minutes or so. We don't take reservations unless it's a large party. Saturday isn't even our busiest night as we get mostly locals on that night.
What's your busiest night? Friday, mostly because of the after-work crowd and people gearing up for the weekend. People come for drinks after work and then there's a strong dinner crowd.
What is the longest wait you have experienced since opening? Probably an hour and a half, but that was just when we opened. These days it's rarely over half an hour, though sometimes it can be up to an hour during the busiest time on Fridays.
Is there anything I can do to make my wait shorter? Come earlier or come later. Either before 7:30 p.m. or after 9 p.m., especially later in the week. Earlier in the week, like Sunday or Tuesday, there's not too bad of a wait.
What's the strangest request that you've accommodated? Sometimes people ask us to break the rules regarding our no reservations request, but nothing stranger than that.
How has the neighborhood responded to The Corner Door? This is a neighborhood that's been under served over the years. The response has been great from local residents and Culver City has been really supportive.
What's the best thing to eat here? The brussels sprouts are awesome, the cider-glazed wings are excellent, and the burger. All our pastas are made in house, so I'd recommend one of those as well.
Are you all expecting to be reviewed by the LA Times? It'd be great if we did have a critic come in but we haven't seen one yet. We're not really focused on that. We just want to show our guests a good time, so we'll deal with the critics when they come.
What's your most important tool for working in this dining room? Probably my eyes, as it's important to keep an eye on the diners. Because we're so small here, you can look around and see people that seated or waited. It's helpful to keep a beat on what people are feeling and monitor what's going on.
Do you think people come here more for the drinks or the food? People come here for both. Our goal was to combine great drinks and great food in a fun environment. Some people want to sit at the bar and have some food, some people want to sit at a table and enjoy a drink. There's something for everyone.
What sells better, cocktails, wine or beer? The biggest seller is cocktails. Beer and wine are about equal to each other but Beau's program has been outstanding and instrumental to our success. He makes cocktails that are accessible to people, but still good enough for the serious cocktail aficionado. They appeal to a broad audience.
Where do you like to eat when you're not at this restaurant? I'm here a lot so when I'm not here, I'm usually eating with my family. I like to go where my kids like to go, like 800 Degrees and Santouka ramen, but I spend most of my time eating at home.
Do you consider The Corner Door to be a gastropub? When somebody asks, "Okay, what kind of food do you server here? No, people have been calling it a gastropub and people put it in that category. But we look it as just combining a bar and restaurant. To many people a gastropub is just a place that serves a burger with beer, but we like to consider this fresh American food, made with good ingredients.
Do you have anything else in store for The Corner Door? Any plans to expand? Our goal was to create a neighborhood spot. Both myself and my business partner Tony have lived in the area and wanted to develop something for the community. We'd be interested in something more down the road but for now we're focusing on this location.
·All The Gatekeepers Coverage [~ELA~]