I have reservations about taking reservations

our Open Table gear

left to right: Deen, the dining room manager; Jeff, the Open Table trainer

Jeff tips his hand and tells us he only knows one pose

Tuesday began and ended our installation and training on Open Table, the software (and hardware) that lets you make a reservation from our website ( or Open Table’s website, though we prefer you use ours, since OT charges us a dollar a head for every reservation made through their site).  Training lasted less than two hours, so I’m hopeful that we can figure this thing out.  It seems pretty intuitive, and we’ll practice a lot.

More than being nervous about handling Open Table, though, I’m nervous about accepting reservations, and I’ll tell you why.  As a restaurant, you want to take reservations.  The people who have a curtain to catch want them; the people who are bring their grandmother want them; the people who have a party of twelve want them, and if they can’t get them, they may very well go to another restaurant instead.  But the part of the reservation that no one ever thinks of is this: reservations drive up prices.  If I’m holding tables empty half the night to accommodate reservations, I’m not generating the most income I can from each table, but since I still have to pay the mortgage, the staff, the utilities and the insurance regardless of how many people eat here, I need to make it up somewhere.  Plus, of the groups of ten or twelve who make reservations, thirty percent of the time, only eight show up, so now I’ve unnecessarily held even more tables empty.  So we’ve hit upon a solution:  we’re taking reservations, but we’re only booking half the restaurant.  The other half, we’re leaving available for you to come in when the mood strikes you, just like we always have.  We’ll give that a try, and we won’t raise our prices.  And with any luck, no one will sit at the table you reserved and stare dreamily into each other’s eyes long after they’ve finished dinner and paid their check while you stand around hungry and cranky, since after all, you did make a reservation.

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