Combating no-shows/ Opentable

Just for curiosity sake and for some international insight - about how far in advance do you need to book a table at say 1) neighborhood pub vs 2) popular restaurant vs 3) trendy destination spot? (May not be the right categorizations but that idea). And does that change in England for say a 2 top versus a 6-8 top?

Why do people need a reminder of any sort to be accountable and cancel the unwanted reservations well in advance? (days, not hours, before the reservation is to take place.) And, please, you have to make a “few” reservations in case you’re not in the mood for a certain restaurant on the day you scheduled to dine out? Are you really that indecisive?

I agree. But I’m saying, if this is a serious situation for restaurants, then they will need to find a solution. Telling people that they should behave differently is a losing battle they will never win. They will need to figure out the underlying motivations and unmet needs of their customers and figure out how to meet those while meeting their business needs.

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We usually book our weekly night out about a week in advance. That usually works fine - we’ll be a 2-top midweek booking. We’re not really in to trendy destination spots which, increasingly often, seem to follow the American pattern of not taking reservations - we are not prepared to schlep across the metro area only to find that we have to queue for a table.

There is a place we go to once or twice a year that requires some planning. They only have 8 covers, so scoring a spot is tricky. They open up reservations (only online) at 10am on the first of the month, for a tables for the whole of the month three months hence. So, for example, the whole fo July will become available on 1 April. You need to be logging on to the site at exactly 10am and be prepared to make an instand decision about when you want to go. It’s pretty much certain that, by 10.15, the whole month will be booked.

Just my personal experience - yes, twice in my 30+ years of making dinner reservations. Both times were in the past 2 years here in Boston (I’ve only lived here for 2 years), and I can see doing it again.

Both times were when multiple guests were coming to visit, from multiple cities, once a table of 6, the other for 8. To attempt to dine at a nice restaurant here in Boston on a Friday or Saturday night - you best plan 6-8 weeks in advance and even then you best be flexible on time. Both times I offered up what options and times I was able to reserve for group discussion and decisions - and when a decision was made I cancelled the reservation. I would and will do this again because if I don’t we are eating at McDonalds and that isn’t happening.

How many, many times have I politely shown 5-10 minutes prior to my reservation time, only to be shuttled to the bar, “While we get your table ready.”


Ah, but is it to get your table ready or are you being suckered into buying a drink that you might otherwise not have ordered.

There’s a large and very busy place in our city. Doesnt take reservations. And, whenever you arrive, you’re sent to the bar. And then, strangely enough, just as soon as you’ve ordered and received your drink, your table immediately becomes available. Every damn time!


It’s sometimes called “upselling”. At a favorite famous steakhouse, the table was always ready as soon as the Manhattan hit the bartop, though we would have asked for the same drink after being seated; surely, not everyone wants a drink from the bar but having the drink while settling in is a good deal. Guess we also saved the server one round trip.


I just can’t see myself that driven for a meal at any restaurant, John.

By the by, I’ve just made a reservation for lunch tomorrow. Not only did they require credit card details but they’ve taken a non-refundable £30 deposit. I think that’s pushing it - no real issue with them holding the card details in case of no-show but to actually take a deposit is unusual. Not an isolated instance - I recall a Michelin 2* in Rome taking a €100 deposit, payable via PayPal.

Now, OK, lunch is at a training restaurant run by charity at our local prison, so they can obviously ill afford no-shows - probably more so than a commercial enterprise. But this is a new thing since we were last there in August. Presumably the new policy relates to the increasing popularity of the place with the consequent increase in arsewipes reserving and not turning up.

I agree - far more dining is in vast restaurants with big bars to wait in. I was always surprised when I worked in the US how rarely my colleagues thought to reserve…I spent many happy hours in bars waiting for tables :smile::grinning::flushed::sleeping:

You have to wonder if that is because there are so many multiple reservations. I wonder how many tables free up closer to the date as people cancel the extras.

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