Why Don't Some Restaurants Take Reservations?
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When it comes to dining out, some of us need a restaurant that takes reservations (at $15 an hour, that babysitter ain't cheap) while others don't (another drink at the bar -- don't mind if I do.) So why wouldn't all restaurants simply play it safe and afford customers the ability to lock down seats? Here's what Valley chefs and restaurateurs had to say.
It's easier not to. Sometimes you have a reservation who doesn't call to cancel or inform you of a delay. You have a 15- to 20-minute wait, but you're holding a table for a reservation. What's an appropriate waiting time? What happens after 17 minutes when you sat the table previously assigned to a reservation and they walk in?
There's also the scenario of being told the party is for eight. The restaurant plans on using two tables together to accommodate the reservation. In actuality, it turns out to be six. The restaurant could have put two different tables together and in the meantime seated another party. For this reason, many restaurants don't seat incomplete parties. Guest counts change and the host is always mindful of the waiting guests and how to best structure seating and accommodate everyone. Empty seats don't pay the bills.
They are too small, too busy, or the menu is simple and they need to have their tables turn all the time. It has worked for Chris Bianco for a long time, but he has not seen my butt in his place for over 15 years.
They like to create a buzz by making guests wait and create an air of exclusivity because it's hard to get in. Online reservation systems are also very expensive -- hundreds of dollars per month.
If guests expect they will have a wait, then the restaurant can maximize seating. But in nicer restaurants, you don't want your guests to wait. Sometimes it happens, though. Restaurant seating is not like an airline. If you're five minutes late the hostess can't say, "Sorry, your table took off." And when the next reservation for the table is there, the hostess can't say, "Your table has landed, buh-bye."