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Booking a table at a restaurant

(78 Posts)
wowfudge Fri 31-Oct-14 17:08:30

Is it just me, or is it really rather irritating when restaurants won't take bookings? Just tried to book a place I've been to before with colleagues and enjoyed for tomorrow night. Their website has an automated booking facility for parties of 6 or more, but asks you to email if there are fewer in your party.

So I emailed them. Reply: sorry, we only take bookings for parties of 6 more, but pop along tomorrow and if there's a wait for a table you can have a drink at our bar until there's a table ready.

Er, no - I wanted to be sure I could eat a nice meal when I wanted to!

amyhamster Fri 31-Oct-14 17:10:32

Very annoying & rude
Doesn't make sense really
As though they only value large parties who will spend a lot

Sirzy Fri 31-Oct-14 17:13:13

I presume they have had issues with people booking tables and then not turning up therefore blocking tables which could be being used.

If they felt it made business sense then they would take bookings. Its annoying when it doesn't fit you, but then at the same time it is annoying being turned away from places when you haven't pre-booked even if there are tables empty. They can't win really so will go for what fits their business best.

OwlinaTree Fri 31-Oct-14 17:40:05

Really annoys me too if you can't book. Surely they can let the table go if no one turns up in 30 mins or so?

Sirzy Fri 31-Oct-14 17:41:36

But that 30 mins they are losing money.

Economically I can see why some places decide against booking out tables. If they know people will happily sit and wait (presumably in a bar paying for drinks) they know they have minimal turnover time therefore maximum profit

WooWooOwl Fri 31-Oct-14 17:44:56

It is annoying, but can see why they do it.

If they know they're going to be busy, it doesn't make sense for them to reserve tables for people that might not show up when they have people ready and waiting to be seated right there.

Viviennemary Fri 31-Oct-14 17:48:20

It's annoying but can absolutely see why they do it. If they know they will be busy why reserve a table for people who might not even turn up and turn other customers away. They should do what's best for their business as they are there to make a profit.

wibblyjelly Fri 31-Oct-14 17:50:21

Yanbu. I rang up a new restaurant in London to try and book a table for this weekend. They said they only take walk ins. So I'm not going there now, as I don't want to make a trip into London just on the off chance they have a table.

LadyLuck10 Fri 31-Oct-14 17:52:00

Yanbu but I definitely can see why they do it. Usually restaurants that do this have a bar which you can get a drink while you wait.

MrsTerrorPratchett Fri 31-Oct-14 17:56:15

Both my favorite restaurants don't take bookings. They are wonderful and people will queue and wait because they are wonderful. This means that no tables are empty, ever, they are making money all the time. The people waiting buy drinks. Their prices are reasonable as a result.

It's a great system. There are other restaurants if you want to book.

wheresthelight Fri 31-Oct-14 18:02:42

Can you not book for 6 people and then day that some have cancelled at the last minute?

wowfudge Fri 31-Oct-14 18:06:35

Well MrsT I don't think it's a great system at all. If a restaurant has bookings they at least have an idea what business they will do. If they tell you they will only hold the table for x amount of time that should deal with late comers and I wouldn't mind giving cards details to guarantee a booking either.

I don't think it's very customer friendly really. I won't be going there now. Don't want to take the chance of either a wait or just no availability.

I think it's actually a bit complacent and lazy not to take bookings.

They could organise to have a number of tables available for walk ins.

We had a bad experience with somewhere we go to regularly when they took our booking but had let a walk in party have the table - we were on time. If they knew it was their busy time we'd have gone later if they had advised when we booked. 'Come back it ten minutes' really didn't cut it when every table was either on starters or looking at the menu!

wowfudge Fri 31-Oct-14 18:07:55

I wouldn't want to do that wheresthelight - not my style to not just be honest. We'll just somewhere else instead.

MrsTerrorPratchett Fri 31-Oct-14 18:16:14

wow the restaurants I am talking about know that they will be full so they know what business they will do. They are also small so wouldn't be able to have a half and half system. If I had to book, I wouldn't ever be able to eat there because I would have to book six months in advance because they are so popular. One of them is frequented by famous people. They have to wait too. It's very leveling.

There are plenty of places that take bookings, why not eat at one of those?

IAmAShitHotLawyer Fri 31-Oct-14 18:34:59

You could be really evil and book a table for 6 and then say 4 dropped out at the last minute!

wowfudge Fri 31-Oct-14 18:47:49

MrsT I stated in my OP I wasn't prepared to turn up on spec. Good for you with your famous people - it's not something I go for myself.

limitedperiodonly Fri 31-Oct-14 18:48:11

I never go somewhere I can't book. And that: 'We need your table back in two hours'.

Fuck that.

I'm currently arranging a MN meet up in central London. We might not agree to go there but the restaurant has been really decent. I have a relationship with them but I would expect them to treat me as well as I treat them.

Sirzy Fri 31-Oct-14 18:53:30

Go somewhere else then. Simple.

Some people don't want to book in advance so place like this work well for them. If you want to book in advance then there are plenty of places which allow that

MrsTerrorPratchett Fri 31-Oct-14 18:56:04

Fair enough wow, horses for courses. I don't suppose some of the very good restaurants that have this system care whether you go there or not.

It's a business decision. Different places do different things. Different people like different systems. I don't think it's complacent or lazy or rude, just a different way of organising things.

limitedperiodonly Fri 31-Oct-14 19:15:05

What? Sit at the bar drinking and waiting for a table that may become available in an hour or so?

So you're so pissed you don't want to eat?

Fuck that. My favourite restaurants do not do that to me.

Maybe that's why they're my favourite restaurants.

MrsTerrorPratchett Fri 31-Oct-14 19:33:57

I get yummy snacks while I drink at mine. For free. Well, the snacks, not the drinks. If the wait is too long, we go elsewhere.

<passes round amuse bouches>

FruVikingessOla Fri 31-Oct-14 19:41:54

I agree with limited. I've never gone anywhere where I could only book online. In fact, I wouldn't even do that.

I go to restaurants where you phone and have a conversation with someone about my reservation.

Kiffykaffycoffee Fri 31-Oct-14 19:50:58

YANBU at all! but I can see sometimes it doesn't make business sense to run a booking system. For example, if their customers are mugs happy to wait for a table. Don't forget restaurants make most of their profits on drinks, so it's in their interests to keep the bar populated. I wouldn't want to be pushed around like that though. I need to know there will be a table ready at the time of my choosing.
My other pet hate though is when they do take bookings but give you a time limit, ie "we can't fit you in at 8pm. We can only do 7.30 and you have to be finished by 9pm because we've got another booking." Aargh.

Sirzy Fri 31-Oct-14 19:53:56

It seems some posters on here want exactly what they want when they want it and forget that places have other customers too.

They don't want to wait for a table
They want to be able to book the exact time they want
They don't want to be told the table is needed (presumably by someone else who booked just did so sooner)

Restaurants can't win basically!

MrsTerrorPratchett Fri 31-Oct-14 19:56:04

<gives Sirzy an amuse bouche>

They also presumably don't want to pay wildly inflated prices. It's cheaper not to have a booking system. As long as that saving is passed to me, I'm happy.

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