Well seeing as I’m having issues getting the entirety of the old posts online, I figured it was time to start making some new posts on here, and after hopping onto one of my favorite server sites these days, If You Can’t Afford to Tip, I saw something that was a great starting off point.
I’m confused. My wife and I had a short notice opportunity to eat out at a favorite restaurant. She called and easily got a reservation for 7:30 PM, two hours hence.
When we arrived the restaurant was running a little late but we were told we would be seated ASAP. I understood and we waited. Meanwhile, a couple of other parties entered the restaurant and were seated before us.
When I asked the hostess when those parties had reservations, I was told 7:30 PM, the same as me. When I questioned her why they were seated first, she stated it was because they had made their reservations two weeks prior.
Now, I could understand if we had arrived at the same time that they should get the first seating, but we were first. Am I wrong in being upset or is this normal practice?
Now I’m not going to go into all of the comments people left there so far, but here’s the link because some of them are pretty good (including mine!). I am going to explain some things that might make some diners out there a little less..hateful and bitchy.
First, I want to point out that what Mrs. Anonymous had was not a reservation, something a lot of you people out there need to realize. Calling a restaurant a couple of hours before you want to eat and having them take your name down just gives you a better shot at getting a table if the restaurant is busy. It’s damn sure not a guarantee. Mrs. Anonymous did what’s called a Call Ahead. I know that might seem like you’ve got a guaranteed table when you and your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or hooker get there but all a Call Ahead does is let you know that they’re gonna try and have you a table.
Reservations in most restaurants, at least for small to semi-small groups, in most restaurants have to be made 48+ hours in advance in order for the guests to have a guaranteed table. When making a reservation, the host(ess)/manager/unlucky server who happened to answer the phone, will usually take down the basics: Name, phone number where you can be reached, number of guests, and time. Managers will always explain the restaurants policy on reservations when taking one, but many hosts and hostesses don’t because a lot of times they just don’t wanna go through all that talking. One of the things that tends to get left out when it’s not a manager explaining the policy is that even though your reservation is made, you have a responsibility to be on time, or within 15-20 minutes if you don’t want to risk losing that table to other guests. It’d be nice if just making a reservation was a total guarantee of a table but unless you’re somebody famous, they’re not gonna hold the table for you if you’re taking your sweet ass time.
If you’re making a reservation for a larger party, by larger I mean large enough to take up more than a couple of tables, the restaurant can be a little more anal about it while at the same time being a little more lenient. For one thing, there’s often a larger grace period for being late. Sometimes the restaurant will want a monetary deposit, which is understandable if it’s a party that’s going to potentially take up 3-4 or more tables, especially if they take forever getting there, or don’t show up at all. At least then the restaurant can still make a dime.
Something a lot of you tend to forget is the server. First, the table or tables for your reservation have to be held, meaning that until you and your group arrive, no more tables for them. If you’ve made a reservation for a group of 6, and the server only has a 3 table section, those tables are closed until the group arrives, cutting into our money. Some restaurants contribute to the assholery and will not even open those tables, which helps to fuck us. What I’m getting at here is if you make a reservation for enough people that the server has to close more than one table and you know not all of your group is going to come, call and let the restaurant know so whoever your server is can reopen that table. If you’re going to be late, call the damn restaurant and let them know. Keep the lines of communication open.
Now, let’s get to something that really pisses me off. Some people, when they make reservations (especially at fancy, hard to get into places) tend to think that because they managed to get an actual reservation at that place it makes them some kind of hot shit, shit who’s shit smells like roses. Let me tell you now, having a reservation doesn’t make you special, it just means you got lucky when you called; don’t be a dick to your server.
Reservations can tend to piss off the regular guests as well as the Call Ahead people, especially when the restaurant is on a particularly long wait. The problem comes from the “open” tables.
Guests who are put on a waiting list when there are open tables can be sorted into two groups: Assholes and Angels. The Angels accept that there are things outside of their control. Their minds are advanced enough to understand that there might be reasons for the waiting list with those open tables, like reservations or being short staffed.
The Assholes, however, tend to be entitlement junkies of the first degree. They’re the ones who won’t accept any explanation as to why they’re on a wait when there’s tables everywhere. They’re annoying enough for a server to have to deal with because they’re already pissed off, but they’re nothing compared to the Call Ahead Assholes. This rare breed of Asshole makes the regular Asshole look like a dainty delicate daffodil.
Not only do they believe that because they called ahead they should get first priority over EVERYONE else in the restaurant, real reservations included, but should those tables be open because they are being held for someone who reserved them further in advance than that night, they can be a little unpredictable. Judging from the information Mr. Anonymous provided, he and wife were fairly stable, either accepting or letting the anger simmer beneath the surface.
They’re the rarity. For the most part, the Call Ahead Asshole isn’t going to accept any explanation. Always be prepared in situations like this for this breed of guest to lose their temper, ask to see the manager, get something free on their check, get almost everything free on their check, bitch at you and curse you with more words and flair than even me in my classic RagingServer days could pull off because they couldn’t get their Amaretto Sours for free, then leave you a dollar on that check that was originally almost 60 dollars for that party of two.
Ok so that’s the worst case scenario. Either way, if they have to wait when there are open tables after they called a couple of hours in advance, especially if those tables are for reservation holding guests, they’re going to be upset from the start, and 9 times out of 10 they’re going to take it out on their server.
Getting back to the advice portion of the post.. Hosts and Hostesses, when these call ahead guests start to get pissed off because you can’t give them a particular reserved table, you people have got to remember to stay calm, no matter how mouthy and bitchy they get, because the second you start getting an attitude back with them you make them harder for us to deal with.
Make sure you calmly explain why you can’t seat them at the reserved tables, and if possible remind them about the reservation policy. If you were the one who answered the phone and stupidly guaranteed them a table the exact time they came in, then you are the fucking morons that should have to deal with their attitudes. Explain to them as politely as you can that while you can’t allow them the reserved tables, that they are FIRST on the waiting list, and get them to a table as soon as you can without screwing the server in the process (that’s another post).
Guests, please just remember that no matter what restaurant it is, the Call Ahead is in no way equal to the actual reservation, no matter what the little 16 year old hostess told you when she answered your call. Despite your having made a “reservation” a couple of hours before your visit, expect to have to wait at least a little while.
That’s all on the topic of reservations vs. call aheads for today.
I’d like to thank you all for coming back to the RagingServer archives, and assure you that I will be back on a domain soon, with server space and hopefully the backups will be up in full then. I would also like to thank my new readers, and to everyone, I apologize for how long winded and disjointed this post is. It’s my first actual blog in a few years, so it’ll take a little time to get into the swing of things.
If you want to help get the new domain and space, or at least help advertise, I could really use it, and you can donate here: Help Resurrect RagingServer
Until next time,