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Restaurants that don’t take reservations

December 13, 2010 @ 16:37 By: gordon Category: General

“I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept reservations.”

This phrase was uttered by more than one restaurant that I called while looking for somewhere to go for lunch with my co-workers, and it’s a phrase that baffles me whenever I hear it. When a group of ten people want to eat out at lunch, it’s not really practical to herd everyone to the restaurant in the hopes that there’s enough space for everyone.

Fortunately, the restaurant we ended up going to did have room, but only because some of us showed up around 11:30 to hold the tables until the rest of the group showed up. I quizzed the hostess at the restaurant about it, but the only insight she could offer was “it’s the policy”, which really doesn’t explain anything.

I don’t understand why a restaurant wouldn’t want to take reservations, especially during the holiday season. If people are more than 5 minutes late, cancel their reservation and let some of the people waiting in line for “45 to 50 minutes” be seated instead.

For the restaurant that we ended up going to for lunch this “policy” almost cost them a table of 9 or 10 people. If it wasn’t for the fact that we had a limited number of choices because we left things to the last minute, we would have gone somewhere else that did take reservations. The reason we didn’t go somewhere else is that they had too many reservations to fit us in.

5 Responses to “Restaurants that don’t take reservations”


  1. Adam Sherman says:

    I’ve been told by a few restaurateurs that they actually don’t really want large parties, smaller parties spend more cash per seat/hour.

    A.

  2. Paul Tomblin says:

    If a restaurant can fill their tables without reservations, what incentive do they have to take reservations? There is a cost to holding a table open, especially if the party it’s being held for shows up late or not at all, and that has to be balanced against some invisible and possibly illusionary benefit.

  3. gordon says:

    Thanks for the comments!

    One problem with not taking reservations is that even though the restaurant may not be at 100% capacity, there could be enough empty spaces to accommodate 10 people, but because they didn’t accept that reservation they can’t seat them because of the way they’ve seated everyone else (i.e. they don’t have 10 contiguous seats). So, they end up with 10 seats that are empty rather than full and they’ve ticked off 10 people, some of whom will probably tell their friends about the “stupid restaurant”.

  4. I stopped eating at The Keg, largely for this reason, as have many people I know.

    My general rule now is “if the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, it is an inappropriate venue for my dining dollar”

    • gordon says:

      I believe The Keg Manor on Richmond Road will take reservations, but that location tends to be a bit more upscale anyway.



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