Why Did I Bother to Make a Reservation?

Okay, I have never been an owner. I have done everything else, however. I have been a dishwasher, line cook, busser, server, wine steward, dining room manager, maitre ‘d, general manager….

I still do not understand the logic behind over booking the reservations. Counting on no shows? Seriously? Your whole night depends on people not showing up? That logic will have to be explained to me.


It doesn’t just happen in restaurants. We all have had that situation at the airport. When they are looking for volunteers to take a later flight because they sold more seats than they had on the plane. That is weird. Especially nowadays when you have to actually pay for the ticket, and can’t just reserve like you could pre-911.

I mean there are only so many seats on the damn thing. Who pays for a ticket and then no-shows?

I picked up a friend at the airport today, and then drove him to the car rental place (he wanted to save a hundred dollars by not renting the car at the airport). We get to the car rental company, walk inside, only to find about ten people standing around waiting for cars to arrive. More customers with reservations than cars? Wow.

“…Sorry sir…”

How and why do companies do this? I really don’t understand it at restaurants. Are you owners really that paranoid? Greedy? Do you really think a lot of people are going to flake and not show up to your joint?

There is this thing called walk-ins

Even if people don’t show up for their reservation, you can fill in with walk-ins. If you are a good restaurant, people will flock to you-with or without a reservation-so don’t overbook. It will be okay.


I have worked places–busy places–where the owners have just said ‘yes’ to everyone who called. That’s great, I mean you want people to know that they can get in, but how about a little guidance? The customer will appreciate it in the end.

What is the point of pissing off some customer because you don’t have a table for them when you said you would? Do you honestly think that your place is so good that they will get over the fact that you just misled them? It actually is okay to say you won’t be ready at 7:15, but if they will give you an extra fifteen minutes, you will have their table ready at 7:30. They won’t freak out and go somewhere else.

Think about it. Don’t just get greedy and take every little thing without a bit of a plan. If you don’t have a plan, and just say yes to everyone, no matter what the request is, you run the risk of losing that customer.

The bar will get slammed, the server will get slammed, the  kitchen will get slammed, and the end result will be customers thinking and talking unfavorably about your restaurant.

Oh yeah, Yelp, Urban Spoon…

The absolute last thing you need is people ranting negatively about you on social media. You did things, outside your norm, and it created a mess. Know what works for you and stick to your guns.

My favorite restaurant in the world (I probably have mentioned before on this blog), is a place in Vancouver B.C., called Vij’s. They don’t take reservations. People wait 2 hours for a table and walk out of the place thinking they just had the best dining experience ever.

I promise you, it will be okay. Know your limitations, and customers will not only thank you, but will still flock to you because you are not trying to cram 100 people in the door in a fifteen minute period.


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