The Wall Street Journal
December 24, 1997
Here You Can Dine on Wednesday
--Or you Can Dine on Thursday
For This Restaurant, The Aim
Is to Have A Split Personality
There are Wednesday Diners
And Thursday Diners—
And Never Do They Mingle
By STACY KRAVETZ
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
BEVERLY HILLS – Carol Connors loves to eat at Crustacean, an upscale Euro-Asian seafood restaurant here. Just never, ever on a Wednesday night.
“I avoid it like the plague,” says the 50-something songwriter of Wednesdays, when networking and socializing rises to a fevered pitch and the bar area swells to capacity. “It’s a meat market,” she explains.
Ms. Connors – who counts “Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams,” the theme to the television show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” among her many credits – is instead a Thursday nigh regular at Crustacean. That’s when the mood is certain to be mellower and the dinner crowd decidedly more buttoned-down.
Ms. Connors, who herself was a singer for the Teddy Bears in the 1950s, notes that she tried going for a while on Wednesdays when Crustacean first opened last January. But pretty soon, she says, “it started taking on a flavor of its own – and not one of my Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors.”
That’s no accident. Crustacean owner Elizabeth An says that she began seeing two distinct types of diners flocking to her restaurant: the more staid society crowd of Beverly Hills and the young and hip who also like to frequent the Sky Bar at the Mondrian Hotel and the newly opened Bar Fly on Sunset Boulevard.
Though they both love the food – especially the tiger prawns over garlic noodles – “the high society and the Mondrian crowd don’t mix too well,” Ms. An says.
So they don’t. Whenever possible now, Ms. An steers them to different nights.
Just One Look
It works like this: When people come in and ask her which are the “good nights” at her restaurant, Ms. An gives them the once-over and tries to figure out which scene would best suit them. If they call to make a reservation, she often will recognize the name and then attempt to nudge them in the appropriate direction. Thursday, she has been known to tell a graying socialite or two, is “a beautiful night, and the music you’d really enjoy.”
The result of all this social engineering: “You hardly ever see the Wednesday crowd on Thursday” anymore, says Ms. An. And vice versa.
Of course, many restaurants host slightly different crowds on different nights. Saturday, for instance, tends to be a big night at many places around town for young parents, who must rely on the weekend baby-sitter to get out.
But the midweek dichotomy at Crustacean is stunning.
On a recent Wednesday night, the jazz quartet is barely audible over the din of clinking martini glasses and chatter from entertainment industry executives, models and actors – the “pretty people,” as Ms. An likes to call them.
There are air kisses, goatees, pouty lips – and lots of attitude. The women show off svelte bare arms, and a strikingly high percentage of the men sport wire-rimmed glasses and wear Armani suits. Both are quick to light up cigarettes and cigars (at least until Jan. 1, when a new statewide ban on smoking in bars takes effect).
“It’s a fun night,” says Harlan Gittin, who owns a Los Angeles car dealership.
Although Mr. Gittin and his wife dine in restaurants four or five nights a week and have been known to also drop into Crustacean on the weekend, they’ve never been there on a Thursday.
“I’m a creature of habit,” Mr. Gittin says. “A whole group of people who I know go on Wednesday.” Sometimes, he says, he sees as many as 20 of them packed into Crustacean in the middle of the week. (For the record, though, Mr. Gittin characterizes himself as “somewhere between hip and society.”)
“The movers and shakers are there on a Wednesday,” says Edward Lozzi, the 43-year-old owner of a public-relations company. It’s “just a madhouse. I love it.”
But for their part, most of Crustacean’s Thursday night crowd wouldn’t be caught dead at the restaurant the night before.
On Thursday, the atmosphere is distinctly more refined. People are older and dressed more conservatively. Jewelry is more prominent and hair more impeccably coiffed. There isn’t a tattoo in sight.
And the restaurant is quieter – much quieter. In fact, you can actually hear the piano music wafting over the sleepy bar area. There is little table-hopping.
Thursday night is “elegant,” says Ms. Connors, who frequently dines with actresses Tippi Hedrin (Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”) and Barbi Bento (TV’s “Sugar Time”).
The emphasis is on eating a good meal rather than meeting, greeting and schmoozing. “People do schmooze on Thursdays, just more quietly,” Ms. Connors says.
Sidney and Dani Niekerk, who have the same table waiting for them every Thursday night, stopped in on a Wednesday. Once.
“It was by accident, because I was going to be out of town on Thursday,” says Mr. Niekerk. “It was really noisy,” adds Mrs. Niekerk, who describes the Wednesday patrons as “more interested in drinks than dinner.”
“It’s like move ‘em out, and the Thursday crowd comes in,” says Ms. Connors. “And never the two shall meet.”