Room Service Secrets

A Standard Culture Investigation
Jan 18 2013

Tim Roth as Ted the Bellhop, the patron saint of room service, in Tarantino’s Four Rooms.

Like everyone else in the known universe, we love ourselves some room service. But how does the whole magical process work once we hang up the phone? Are their gnomes involved? We decided to investigate.

The Standard High Line’s room service, it turns out, is a semi-autonomous, upstairs-downstairs-style operation. It has its own staff, its own aubergine-colored uniforms, and its own menu, weighted toward awesomeness.

“The Cobb Salad is popular but a lot of people order the Standard Ranch Burger,” says Peter Kelly, who manages the hotels after-hours food operation several nights a week. “They come back to their rooms after a night on the town and want some old-fashioned comfort food.”

With the help of one chef and a single runner, orders are delivered within 30 minutes of being placed. At peak times, between nine and midnight, the phone hardly stops ringing. Oftentimes, particularly with orders placed late at night on weekends, guests will have crashed out by the time their food is delivered. (In those cases, the food is left covered outside the door.)

And it’s an observed fact of room service operations that as it grows later, the sweeter the orders. The most popular items after midnight are the Banana Fluffernutter (banana, peanut butter and marshmallow on toasted whole wheat), pints of homemade ice cream (vanilla, chocolate or strawberry), and the Chocolate Mousse for two.

Then there are the requests for things room service can’t provide, like illegal substances and, er, companionship. “Women check in and call for Peter,” jokes Plaza food and beverage manager Giuseppe de Francisci. “But when I say he’s not here, they say they don’t want anything!” The kitchen breaks out in laughter.

“Guests call down looking for the condoms to be re-stocked, but that’s guest services, not us,” says Peter. “People are here to have fun but still it’s amazing how much nudity we see.”

A call comes in for a Standard Ranch Burger with cheese, bacon and fries.

“I guess it just shows how comfortable people feel here.”