In this age of instant digital gratification, the reservation is quick becoming an endangered species. “But wait,” you say, “I always use my opentable app to book a table at least 30 minutes before I show up anywhere!”
While that’s a great idea, it’s not really a reservation; that’s a call-ahead. Which is helpful, but not the same.
Reservations are something you plan on at least 24 hours beforehand.
It’s like your in-laws coming over for dinner. If they call you on Friday night saying they don’t have anything else planned and are in the car on their way over, you’re not going to say “No, don’t come,” you’ll figure something out. You’ll pull that lasagna out of the freezer and send the Gent to pick up a salad and a bottle of wine.
But if you know they’re coming over 48 hours in advance, you’ll have your mother-in-law’s favorite macarons from that French bakery downtown, you’ll make your fool-proof orange chicken, and you won’t be scrambling to refill the Brita as they walk in the door.
It’s the same in restaurants, but on a larger scale. If I know on Wednesday that we are expecting 200 guests on Friday, then I have time to call in more staff. My chef can order additional calamari or butcher more bison steaks, and my bar manager can stock up on enough booze so we don’t run out of anything that one of those guests might want.
Call aheads are good, but they don’t compare to a reservation.
Bottom line, no good places will to turn away business within their posted hours of operation. To ensure the best service possible, however, reservations made at least 24 hours in advance are most appreciated.