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I was a bit surprised when Bonji Beard answered my call on the first try. I sort of expected a busy signal, or some prolonged ringing at least.

For the past three and a half years, Beard manned the phones at Minibar. And, as gatekeeper of the toughest reservation in town, she held all the power. To nab a seat, you needed to call at 10 a.m. sharp at least one month in advance of the night you wanted to dine there.

Those were the rules. And she was a stickler.

“That’s what made people a little crazy,” says Beard. “People would say, ‘Well, it’s 10 o’clock on my clock,’ and I was kind of like, ‘At the point where all the world’s clocks think at the same time, then we will be good. But, at this point, it is about my magic clock.’ And, honestly, it just was what it was. When the clock strikes twelve, boom! If you’re not home, you turn back into a pumpkin.”

In her new role, booking tables at R.J. Cooper‘s forthcoming eatery Rogue 24, which opens July 27, Beard is taking a more laissez-faire approach to reservations. For one thing, she’s scrapping the magic clock, altogether.

“This is not going to be Minibar with regards to that stringent process,” Beard says. “They can call at any time during the day. If I’m in the restaurant, I am absolutely going to answer the phone and will absolutely take their reservation.”

She notes that the layout of the new restaurant better lends itself to that sort of leniency at the hostess stand. “With 52 seats, as opposed to six, my goal is not to have people jump through hoops,” says Beard. “My goal is to get people the seat that they want.”

After years of telling people, “Sorry, but we’re all booked up the night of your anniversary, but please try again next year,” Beard is rather enthused about her new gig: “I’m excited about actually being able to say to people, ‘Absolutely, we’ve got your date. Absolutely, we can make that birthday happen.” It is so refreshing.”

Callers seeking a table for the restaurant’s opening weekend, however, will be bummed to find out the place is already booked up. But Rogue currently has availability for dates throughout August.

“Call for the date that is special to you and we will do our best to make it happen,”  Beard says.

The reservation line is (202) 408-9724. You can also email the reservationist: bonjibeard@rogue24.com