Reservations for NJ Restaurants

So between the pandemic & my issues with Cancer followed by over a year of battling pancreatitis & having my gall bladder removed it’s been over 3 years since I could go have a good meal & an adult beverage.
Then I could walk into my many go to places on a Friday night get a table or a spot at the bar& have an enjoyable night.
So yesterday afternoon after much debate girl friend & I decided to go out somewhere to eat & I would have my first adult beverage in over 3 years.
So I said we should probably get reservations somewhere as it’s a nice night & pandemic.
Click onto Open table & at 3:30 pm on a Friday afternoon any place I wanted was booked between 5-8 pm.
Is this the new normal? Can I not ever eat at a normal dinner time on a Friday night without making “ plans “It’s not my nature to “ plan” just to eat dinner
From Freehold to Long Branch any decent place was booked.
I gave up long ago going out on Saturday night as I hated how crowded & boorish it was getting.
Now Friday night is no good either? With Memorial Day around the corner I gotta believe it’s not getting better anytime soon.
Finally got a 7:30 spot at Bahr’s very happy with my Bahrs Mule cocktail had the Fisherman platter and the twin lobster tails were over cooked & the cod was tasteless, scallops were the highlight & the shrimp was inedible so over done.Had it broiled as I am not ready for a pile of fried food.
We ate indoors and it was properly socially distanced & masks were in their proper usage.
Is a mediocre meal & fully booked restaurants what lies ahead?

From my experience, yes that will be the new normal. Although the capacity limits are being lifted (if I read that correctly) so it could help.
Living in Asbury Park, we haven’t had the ability to just go to a place on a Friday or Saturday , hell even a Thursday and just show up and get a table and this was before the pandemic.
I have the same issue, I don’t want to make a reservation a few weeks out and hope I feel like eating there when the day comes.

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I gave up on Asbury from Thursday to Sunday awhile ago
When Fish was around the owners always hooked me up with parking & a minimum 2 seats at the bar.
Man I miss those siracha & jalapeño “martinis “
Hating the “new” normal.

I’ve only been out to eat a handful of times since the pandemic started, but yes, this is going to be the new normal. People are starved to be going out, and even with restaurants expanding seating outdoors (which they may not have had pre-COVID), I don’t think it is going to matter.

The one bright side to having my days off [usually] during the week is that if we want to go out, the wait will not be as long, if at all. But a Friday or Saturday anywhere on the Jersey Shore is going to be a madhouse.

My mom said she was craving Barnacle Bill’s the other day. I said now that they are at full capacity, the wait will only be two hours instead of four. Even before the pandemic, I have waited 90 minutes on a Wednesday or Thursday. I cannot imagine it now.

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I was looking on Thursday morning for Fri/Sat and nothing I wanted was available. Sunday-Thurs is much easier and honestly, it is so crowded on Fridays/Saturdays I think you get better service and food if you go off peak.

ps there were several 4-4:30pm slots available but that is just too early. Some places are fully booked multiple Saturdays going forward, so if you have a preference, I’d book at least 2 weeks early.

Any place near any beach town, regardless of how good it is, is going to be hard to get for the next three months.

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One side effect may be that people will branch out to less well-known restaurants when their favorites are too crowded.

(As someone who has done almost all her dining out at lunchtime, and doesn’t care about a liquor license, I doubt I will be as affected as many of the people here, for which I am grateful in advance. But it is a definite consideration when setting up a special dinner.)

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It’s a combination of many things. Summer is coming, limits are being raised, the people who would not go out previously who are now going out because they are vaxxed, etc… throw in the NY crowd and there you have it, limited availability everywhere.

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Yeah you can basically write off any beach town this summer for a decent time for reservations. Around the peninsula and in Sea Bright it’s been slammed. Some places are booked out entire summer.

And how about ice cream spots, don’t people realize you can buy ice cream in bulk at supermarket
Lines are ridiculous & while we’re at it STAY OFF my lawn😎

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I’m so happy to hear of these establishments with abundant business after what was a difficult year+. I’m happy to plan ahead, wait in line or select a different day for a visit.

Though I do not live in Jersey, I hope they continue to see strong interest in their services and food, despite any tiny inconvenience to patrons’ lives.

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I agree that from a business survival sense, I’m happy to see it happen so quickly, but as a full-time AP resident, I rarely spend money here during the summer season, because I just can’t take the crowds. I’m already yelling “GO HOME” when I’m behind PA and NY plates, so…get off MY lawn too! :joy:
That said, I hope we don’t get to the point where people are making multiple reservations and cancelling like crazy at the last minute, because that’s additional stress restaurateurs don’t need right now. They’re already understaffed and working to get back up to speed in every other aspect.

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Most restaurants are asking for credit cards to hold reservations, hopefully this will cut down on people gaming the system.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold