The Gatekeepers: Fatty Crab UWS's Colin Camac

Zak Pelaccio debuted his long awaited second location of his Malaysian hit Fatty Crab on 77th and Broadway back in March, and if the early reports are to be trusted, both the nabe and most of the city's critics have embraced it. The UWS is tamer than downtown, but a wait is still required during prime time hours. Regardless, GM Colin Camac is going to do everything he can—he may even break down a crab or two—to make sure everyone leaves in good spirits.

Colin Camac, General Manager: With the outdoor cafe, there are nearly 90 seats. Without it, there are 65. My favorites are any of the tables outside or any of the booth tables.

It's 8pm on a Saturday night, what's the wait for a table? Typically, it's not longer than 20-25 minutes. Is there anything I can say to make my wait shorter?

No you should smile at the hostess and just be very nice and pleasant and we’ll get you seated as soon as we can. ...How about gifts or cash to speed things along? No, I mean, I don’t really need your twenty bucks. Twenty five and we may have something.

Do you have any favorite customers? We have a lot of people. We have a lot of people who come in from the neighborhood a lot that are really loud and boisterous—those are the kind of people we like. Any celebs been by recently? I mean, we have a couple of people who come in. We’d like them to keep coming in, so we don’t really talk about it.

How do you deal with VIPs, when there are no tables left to give? Usually our friends are nice enough to call in advance so we’ll be able to accommodate them. But for the most part, someone who’s a friend of the restaurant is pretty cool. They have no problem grabbing a drink until a table is ready.

What's the most outrageous request from a customer that you could accommodate? We’ve had people ask us all the time to pick their crab for them because they don’t want to get messy. The whole point is to get messy. It’s kind of weird to get in their food. It’s not something we normally do. But if we’re incredibly slow and a waiter feels like wasting a lot of time, they will pick their crab. And one you couldn't accommodate? I'm trying to think of something really good. We have a guy who comes in every once in a while—I think he really likes it—but he complains about everything. We were going to get a special cushion for him because he doesn’t like the chairs. We were going to make some special side dishes. And we were going to do it for him because he wrote us a letter about all of the things he didn’t like. And then we haven’t seen him in a while. But I’m still waiting for him to come in.

What's the one Gatekeeper tool you need to do your job? Five lovely hostesses who pretty much run the door and take care of anything the guests need and get the books all set up and ensure that we have a nice flow in the kitchen.

When you're not at Fatty Crab, where are you eating? I go everywhere. I try to eat out as much as possible. For the most part, I have to eat places that are open late. I love Cabrito. I go to Dell’anima. I like sushi so I hit up Blue Ribbon every once in awhile. I like Seki. But, 15 East is my favorite restaurant right now.
—Matt Duckor

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