Now that Gothamist has posted an interview with PDT co-owner Jim Meehan, it will be even harder to get into the small East Village bar. Meehan talked at length about how he and the owners of Crif Dogs, the hot dog shop through which you enter PDT, opened the “modern speakeasy” (a term Meehan tolerates, but doesn’t like) 2007.
There are two things PDT, which stands for Please Don’t Tell, is known for: great cocktails and the entrance disguised as a phone booth inside the hot dog shop. “If we had a separate entrance on the street, we would have needed a new liquor license,” Meehan explained. “By putting the door inside Crif Dogs, that’s the dining room, this is the bar.”
While Meehan clearly would prefer to focus on the great cocktails, the exclusivity of the small bar—by necessity or not—has rankled some. (Including me! I couldn’t get a reservation the last time I tried.) Meehan justified it: “Unfortunately, one of the characteristics that we’ve most been maligned for, that I wish more people would emulate, is our reservation policy. The idea that on Friday night, when every other bar is packed, that you could walk in here if you have a reservation, sit down at your table without a wait and get good service.”
True. But PDT will only take same-day reservations, the reservation line opens late in the day, and on a Friday, it’s impossible to get anything but a busy signal once it does open—until there are no reservations left. Hard to like a bar you can’t get into, I know, but try it on a weeknight.
The fact is, it’s small, and if you do get in (I did once), it has a wonderful atmosphere. Not quiet, but relaxing. And the drinks are exceptional. Meehan seems comfortable concentrating on keeping PDT great, and refuses to knowingly spread himself too thin. He’s candid and down-to-earth in this long interview—his Midwestern roots are apparent.
He added that he’s working on a book, which will have all of PDT’s recipes.