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A maitre d’, a lifeguard, a boat captain, and a concierge offer travel advice
The Maître D’
Craig Susser, Owner, Craig’s Restaurant, West Hollywood
How can first-time diners snag a good table?
Be patient. Be willing to have a drink at the bar. Come in before 7 and after 8:30, and get to know us. We want to help you—just give us a chance.
Has anyone ever booked under a fake celebrity name, pretending to be an assistant, to get a better table?
Yes. What they don’t know is, most celebrities call themselves.
Have you ever received a tip other than money?
My honeymoon at Kukio in Hawaii, a trip to Vegas, and a set of golf clubs.
Garth Canning, L.A. County Fire Department, Lifeguard division
What’s the hardest part of your job?
You can’t take your eyes off the water, even when people are talking to you. We’re not being rude—we just need to be scanning the water.
Hungry sharks or undertow: Which is more dangerous?
“Undertow” is a misnomer. We call it a rip current. The number one cause of rescue is rip currents. In 32 years I’ve never dealt with a shark attack and don’t know any lifeguard who has. Bee stings kill more people per year than shark attacks.
Do you have to be good-looking to be an L.A. lifeguard?
Absolutely not—and I know many people who can prove that. You have to be an excellent swimmer.
Did Baywatch help or hurt your profession?
The public took an interest in what we do, but it did reinforce negative stereotypes.
The Boat Captain
Chris Medinger, The Blue Moon, Marina del Rey
What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen off the coast?
The blue whales. They’re the size of a building, and when you get close you see that their eyes are bigger than your head. One time we saw orcas attacking some dolphins—that was pretty intense.
Certain stretches of beach are dirtier than others. Where is the most pristine water?
The pollution starts at a pipe just north of Santa Monica and flows south with the current. The cleanest water is in Malibu.
You probably meet a lot of tourists. Tell us your best story.
This Italian filmmaker came with his model girlfriend, put a wad of cash on the table, and said, “You want this? Find me dolphins!” We got lucky and found some. They popped champagne and went crazy.
James G. Little, The Peninsula Beverly Hills
What can you do for guests that might surprise them?
We can source and price anything, send a driver to buy it, place it in the room, and put all the charges on the account.
What is a rookie concierge mistake?
Not checking your work when filling a request. This can result in bad directions, incorrect restaurant bookings, and mixed-up dates.
What’s the craziest request you’ve filled?
At 5 p.m. on a busy Friday night, a guest contacted the concierge desk asking us to purchase 26 society finches, a birdcage, and bird food. He also needed a room with all the furniture cleared out and covered in plastic to accommodate the birds. It all needed to be done by 6:30. We did it.