Let’s talk about Reservations

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September 14, 2012 by Diniquette

Hi.

So, I’m sure we all remember the SEINFELD episode where he makes a reservation for a rental car but they don’t actually hold a car for his reservation. (BTW: I’ve waited on Jerry Seinfeld many times. He is lovely and normal and always tipped me 50%…..not that there’s anything wrong with that)…….

Now in the restaurant world reservations work a little differently. Yes, if you make a reservation for a table at 6pm, you will have a table waiting for you at 6pm; however, if you decide  to show up at  6:30, well then your reservation is no longer honored…..and I do realize that this is a bone of contention for a lot of people, so let me break it down for you…………..

First: by not showing up, on time, for your reservation, you are screwing the people who have the reservation after you.  We’ve all shown up for a reservation and have been told by the Host that our table is not ready because the “first seating” is still seated.  So, by not being on time, you have not only shortened and rushed your dining experience but you have also compromised the experience of the people dining after you; which is beyond poor etiquette, it’s also very selfish.

Second: Normally most restaurants will hold your reservation for 15 minutes, that’s it!  If you call to say that you’re running late, AND YOU’RE NICE ABOUT IT, the restaurant will do everything in their power to accommodate…but sometimes it’s truly just not possible.  During your phone call or when you arrive, the Host will inform you that either:

A) We only hold the table for 15 minutes, so we had to release the table.

B) We’re glad to still seat you , however, there is another reservation on that table so unfortunately, we need it back in 2 hours; (translation: because you were late, we are now going to rush you because the people coming after you deserve to have the table at the time they booked it).

Now, in both instances, IF YOU’RE NICE, the restaurant will do everything in their power to get you a table; because they want you to have a wonderful experience. HOWEVER: if you show up with an attitude and start yelling at the Host, I promise you it will not work out in your favor. REMEMBER: YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS LATE, NOT THE RESTAURANT.

Keep in mind that the restaurant does understand that sometimes you can’t help but be late: I live in NYC and when the POTUS is in town, you can forget trying to get anywhere in under 2 hours, (it’s vicious).

So here are some guidelines to help make your reservation experience better:

*Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. (like Mom always said: if you’re going to be late, CALL).

*DO NOT make a reservation at 6pm, (especially in a restaurant where it’s impossible to get reservations), when you know that your COMPLETED party cannot be there until 7pm.  I realize this sounds ridiculous, but it happens daily and it just pisses off the restaurant and sometimes the Chef..(and things like this get documented under your reservation name in Open Tables).

* Restaurant employees are MASTERS at reading people.  They will know if you’re honestly late and they will know if you are full of BS.  If it’s the latter, again, it will not work out to your advantage because the Host’s are the gatekeepers and gatekeepers have the power.

*My final tip and the most important tip of all: JUST BE NICE.  It’s amazing to me how many people don’t do this; and it can make or break your experience..TRUST ME!

So here is some food for thought…..my friend Gabriel, who is a Host at a Michelin Star restaurant in NYC, had the following observation:

If you have a flight reservation at 6pm, the flight is taking off at 6pm regardless if you’re on time or not.  If you go to theatre and it’s an 8pm curtain, the curtain goes up at 8pm, no matter what….and most people honor those reservations, so why is a restaurant reservation the exception to the rule?

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading.

K

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