Customers waiting at Jean’s. Photo: Zach Schiffman

The restaurant Jean’s feels like it’s been beamed onto Lafayette Street from several different eras: The vibe is late-’90s clubstaurant, the food is mid-aughts farm to table, and the dessert is an oversize cookie that feels like it was made for 2016 Instagram fame. With so much going on, the question that most people have about the spot, owned by Max Chodorow (son of Jeffrey), is: How do you get into the subterranean club underneath the dining room?

The common wisdom has it that the move is to show up around ten, grab a burger and a cookie, and wait to be whisked downstairs. Who, exactly, was waiting? During a recent visit, I saw guy-group get-togethers, mother-daughter dates, birthday dinners, and couples who spent most of their meals looking around to see who else was there.

On a typical Thursday night at Jean’s, the bar area fills up, clears out, and then fills up again, only to stay full while people search for the signal to head to a basement party that may or may not exist. After a few hours, it wasn’t terribly hard to find out the truth: The restaurant may be open Tuesday through Sunday, but the club is mostly only for Fridays and Saturdays. Anyone who shows up and simply hopes for the best is probably out of luck — although there is still a good time to be had at dinner.

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