'reservations' on Serious Eats

Reservations and Deposits: Necessary, or Harmful to Restaurants?

Long lines, no reservations? [Photo: Robyn Lee] This week in the San Francisco Chronicle, critic Michael Bauer prints an email from a San Francisco restaurant owner frustrated by no-shows: Our New Year's eve dinner was quite successful—we did 250 [covers]. The problem was the 40 no-shows. We don't take credit card numbers because we don't want to offend or scare anyone away... Our only solutions to this behavior are to take credit cards or overbook by 10-20% assuming people will no-show, come late, or change party size... Is it better for us to become like airlines or hotels (who both overbook and charge you anyway), continue to be at the whim of ill-mannered, would-be diners, and practice old school... More

Frank Bruni Goes Ko-razy

New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni is frustrated at the reservation process at Momofuku Ko, the impossible-to-get-into pork-injected haute-cuisine spin-off of David Chang's Momofuku empire in New York. The place has 12 seats and employs a web-based reservation system that requires you to log in at 10 a.m. for seats a week out. It's egalitarian in theory, and I admire Chang and company for subjecting everyone—VIPs and schlubs alike—to the same miserable experience of signing on and viewing a series of little red Xs indicating you're hosed. Supposedly, the place does not play favorites. Still, as level as the playing field is, there've been complaints about logging on, seeing a green checkmark, clicking on it, but then being told... More

A New Kind of Foodfight: OpenTable Sued

Savory New York reports that OpenTable, the online reservations system used by 7,000 restaurants across the country, is being sued for patent infringement by a Texas-based company. This comes at an inopportune time for OpenTable, which is rumored to be eyeing a public offering.... More

Got a Reservation? America's Toughest Tables to Score

Among the toughest tables to book in the U.S., according to ForbesTraveler.com, are: Rao's: Unless you've already got a table reserved there, don't bother. The address and phone number follow, but it's not like you'll be using them anytime soon. 455 East 114th Street, East Harlem, New York 10029; 212-722-6709 Minibar: Six seats here, where Forbes Traveler says, "It’s not uncommon for the staff ... to find people banging on the door at 8:30 a.m., trying to beat the 9 a.m. opening of the phone reservation line for its 30-day-in-advance seats." 405 8th Street NW, Washington DC 20004; 202-393-0812 Alinea: "Books up to two months in advance for a weekend spot." 1723 North Halsted Street, Chicago IL 60614; 312-867-0110 Downcast... More

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