[Update below] Waiting in line for popular vendors at Smorgasburg is just part of the experience these days, but sometimes the stars align and you arrive at your desired stall to find it blissfully uncrowded. That's the scene GQ's Alan Richman stumbled upon when he visited Smorgasburg's DUMBO outpost recently. The venerable food writer arrived at the Mighty Quinn's setup just after the 11 a.m. opening time, found it line-free and ordered a sandwich. Then they dropped the bomb: they wouldn't serve him until there was a line. Richman explains:

I asked the lady at the counter for a sandwich. She smiled sweetly, and in a reasonable tone told me that she wouldn't serve me until there was a line, and my best bet was to start one.

I've experienced a lot of atrocious customer service in my life, but this was a milestone. What's worse, the ploy worked. New Yorkers don't think much in life is worthwhile unless they have to stand in line to get it.

A line started forming behind me. After five minutes, it numbered 20. Not good enough for her. The awful woman began taunting her customers. "Soooo close," she cooed. "Soooo close." Soon there were 25 people in line plus three baby carriages. I suspect she was eagerly awaiting the wail of tiny babies suffering in the summer heat.

The longer the line, the more desirable the product, presumably, but wouldn't the line just form naturally regardless of serving a few intrepid eaters who made the effort to arrive early? We reached out to Mighty Quinn's for comment about their alleged line trickery and we'll update if we hear back. For his part, Richman eventually got his two "tiny" sandwiches and while he enjoyed the pork he found the brisket "a little dry." Maybe if he hadn't been made to wait, the beef would have been more moist! He also hated the pickles. So there.

On a related note, an experiment earlier this summer by Bedford + Bowery revealed that one could stuff one's gullet full of meat faster by visiting the brick and mortar Mighty Quinn's in the East Village rather than waiting in the long lines at the 'Burg. Looks line or no line, if you're heading to the Smorgasburg outpost, be prepared to wait.

The Great Brisket Race from Bedford + Bowery on Vimeo.

[Update] Micha Magid, co-partner of Mighty Quinn's, responded to Richman's article by calling it "categorically false":

We have our staff there, we have our food ready to go. We don't get a two second break until we're basically sold out. Part of that process is making sure that everything's set up perfectly. If someone comes before we open unfortunately they have to wait until everyone's done with the setup process. We do not try to create a line. We believe in our products and we serve quality food. It takes time to prepare, everything is sliced to order. We always go as fast as we can.

We make one sandwich every thirty seconds to a minute; that's the fastest we can go. We don't wait for a line to open or a line to start before we start serving. All I can say is that it's just not true. It's never been our policy and I can't imagine that that was actually the quote. I have to imagine that we were still in the process of getting set up.

It's ridiculous and I've spoken to the girl who was on the board that day. She's a mother, she's worked for us since we started in Brooklyn two years ago. She knows what our DNA is all about and it's about customer service and quality food. Taunting the line is so out of left field and so preposterous that it's not even something that I could even assign a 1% probability to it actually happening.