Ed Levine and Kenny Shopsin go way back, so it's no surprise that Easy Ed got an early copy of Shopsin's memoir, Eat Me. (Nor were we surprised by the characteristic Kenny inscription.) After reading the excerpt, we can't wait to get our own.
My approach at Shopsin's is the exact opposite of "the customer is always right." Until I know the people, until they show me that they are worth cultivating as customers, I'm not even sure I want their patronage.
The brilliance of my restaurant is my ability to control my clientele. The thing that makes my restaurant special is my relationships and interactions with my customers--and the way they relate and interact with one another. With the wrong people here, those interactions don't happen, so to keep the wrong people out when I don't like them. I probably axe at least one party every day--and usually more than that.
I enjoy cooking and giving what I can to my customers, and, in turn, my customers don't just enjoy giving me money, they enjoy receiving what I have given them. Once we've established a rapport, we're absolute equals in my restaurant. But I guess I shouldn't expect newcomers to understand this. In all fairness, they're right and I'm the asshole, because my way is hardly the traditional you-give-me-the-money-I-give-you-a-bagel. I want more from them. I want a relationship.
This could go down as the Book of Five Rings of short-order cookery. Ed Levine is a lucky man today.
'Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin' [Serious Eats]