Looking For The Best Table? In Paris, Be Good-Looking
Have you ever felt that the “good looking” people get some of the best deals?
Have you ever been knocked back at some stage by a club host?
Research has shown for a long time that no matter what new laws are introduced people will discriminate as they please, even if they seem not to.
A recent story in Forbes illustrates how it’s done in a well known restaurant in Paris…
It is a generally accepted fact that in our culture there’s a bias against unfortunate-looking people.
Study after study, book after book, show that attractive people are more likely to land job interviews, to be hired faster, to get better promotions, to be paid more, to get higher upside for their companies, so forth and so on.
The phenomenon, in fact, has psychological standing in a principle known as the pleasure of dealing with good-looking people.
Nevertheless, when it became known recently that a couple of high-end Parisian restaurants reserve their best tables for attractive customers, and relegate people they deem ugly to their corner and back-room tables, an uproar ensued.
It started when the newspaper Le Canard Enchainé ran a story based on interviews with former waitresses at the chic restaurants Georges, on the rooftop of the Centre Pompidou, and Café Marly, overlooking the Louvre courtyard and pyramids.
The hostesses said they had to observe strict seating arrangements based on looks and could not promise reservations by phone for tables on the terrace because they had to see the customer in order to judge his or her terrace-worthiness.
The restaurants were accused of aesthetic snobbery and the story was widely picked up, while serious debates over the appropriateness of that practice are ongoing.
Since then, though, the floodgates have opened wider as more restaurant personnel have reluctantly admitted that such discrimination is widespread, particularly in the most renowned establishments. Simply put, they want beautiful people at their more visible tables.
Think about it. When you’ve been to Paris, have you wondered why so many restaurants and cafés look so chic from the outside? “The good-looking people are led to the good places, where they can be easily seen,” one waitress said. “But nobody would admit it.”
And apparently, there’s nothing illegal in it.
A critic from the English daily Telegraph decided personally to test what he called “gastronomic segregation in action” with lunch at the Georges. His conclusion: All the fuss is probably rumor.
“Once inside,” he wrote, “a stunning waitress with blanched teeth gave me the once over. Her male assistant, in full suit and tie, then did the same. The staff, I realised, looked ready for the catwalk…In truth, the place was far from full and to my surprise, they asked me: “Where would you like to sit?”
He then asked them about the reports of “looks discrimination,” which they denied.
He interviewed François Simon, a respected French restaurant critic, who was more open about it: “A truly professional maître d’ composes his restaurant like a bouquet of flowers,” he explained. “If you have guys who arrive in shorts and T-shirts, you hide them. It’s logical.”
His advice to restaurants?
“They should push the boat out even further. Make it free for the beautiful people, offer them champagne, assail them with compliments and ask them to stay after-hours.”
© 2013 Forbes | This article was written by Cecilia Rodriguez and first appeared in Forbes on 12 July 2013.