“You get a little more love and latitude by confirming your dinner reservation.”

Back in the day, (it never gets old saying that!) when I was teaching skiing in Squaw Valley, I was fortunate to be part of a train-the-trainer workshop.  The top instructors whom were all ex-pro skiers would take out the newbies to hone our skills, (what’s funny is that they never taught us how to teach, they just taught us how to be better skiers).  One day we did an entire day of pole planting.  How to pole plant properly, using your wrist, on a flat, on a steep, in the moguls, in the trees.  This was incredibly useful.  It was also such a small part of skiing and such a seemingly simple task that I never once thought I needed instruction.

Another seemingly simple task that people almost never handle properly or with enough class is making a dinner reservation.  Too many (non-rugged) men roll into classy restaurants like an NBA scrub trying to Be Like Mike, demeaning the hostess, without a reservation and wonder why they struggle to get a table every time.  Just like anything else, there is a classy way to do this, a sheep way, and unfortunately the douchebag way.  We will outline the classy and effective way to make a dinner reservation.

Operation Dinner Out Is A Go“, as Robert Redford said in Spy Game and in order to “Go”, you need to have a strategy and plan ahead.  We also have some tips if you are in a pinch with that special gal and want to look debonair.

  • Internet Reservations – The best way to do this is online, via Open Table if the restaurant subscribes to their service.  I’ve always found it interesting to see some locales powered by Open Table and some cities do it the old fashion way, which is great.  Open Table has real time inventory with a 2-way interface to the hostess stand.  A hostess can see you making a reservation online, and she can also put through a cancellation, thus returning a table to available status for online viewers.  Therefore if you can’t find your 8pm rezzie online, do not call the hostess asking if they have any more tables available.  Restaurants put all the tables they want available for reservations online.  They don’t have extra tables for people who call, walk-ins are a different story.
  • Calling Restaurants –  If you are going to call, call during reservation or inquiry times, typically around 4pm.  Most restaurants, even if not serving, have someone there to answer the phone. Calling during this time is best because you can talk to the hostess and ask questions about the address, the parking and the attire.  This is also the best time to call because confirmation calls for the existing reservations will be done.  If you are trying to dine at a busy, well known restaurant, most people will make their reservation so far in advance they often forget, and need to cancel.  Perfect for you to slip right in.  When calling at 7pm on a Saturday night, you will get short, rushed answers and will not be able to charm the hostess.
  • Confirm Your Reservation – After booking a reservation restaurants will typically call you to confirm.  This may seem annoying and in fact it IS annoying that you have to call again to essentially complete your reservation.  If you do not confirm, they will not cancel your reservation however.  If you do confirm your reservation, the hostess will make a note and hold your table a little longer or give you your preferred table.  You get a little more love and latitude by confirming your reservation earlier that day.
  • Arriving – Once the reservation is confirmed, show up on time, with the correct amount of guests.  If you happen to be running late or have an extra person, call and let the hostess know.  Most busy restaurants only save a portion of the restaurant for reservations.  These are usually the best tables. If you happen to be late and don’t call, the table will most likely be given away to a patient walk-in or regular patron.  When you finally do arrive, you will have to wait for a less desirable table and sit with the sheep.  Showing up with an extra person can typically be accommodated, arriving with two or more guests is just rude because now you need a new table, not an extra seat.  Arriving at 730 when you had a 9pm reservation and claiming ignorance is also rude.  Just like anything else, if you like the restaurant, treat them well and they will treat you well.  Remember that cult classic movie Waiting, when Ryan Reynolds said “Don’t Fuck With People Who Handle Your Food!”.  You don’t want to test that theory.
  • Become A Regular – If there is a popular restaurant that you like it will behoove you to be at your best every time you are in the establishment.  This means when you are drunk, you exit the restaurant gracefully and go to your local shit show tavern to show everyone your chicken dance.  You say hello to all levels of staff and treat hostesses extremely well.  They are the right hand of the chef or owner.  All top notch restaurants want to give extra attention to patrons who come in often AND reflect the type of clientele they desire.  In order to do this, restaurants save tables each night for VIP walk-ins.  Many have a system in place where staff is notified when they enter the restaurant so a chef can come say hello or a special drink can be made or complimentary appetizers can be started.  Becoming a trusted patron is by far the best way to get a reservation on short notice.  They will do their best to accommodate you, and typically they can make it happen.
  • All About The Benjamins – If you are really in a pinch you can simply pass the hostess a Benjamin and ask her to look again at the reservation screen.  Maybe tell her you only need the table for an hour.  This is more common and effective than you think.  It’s not just big dumb door men at clubs that take bribes, cute smart girls at hostess stands also do it.  What is funny about bribing to gain entry to anything, is that you often can’t do it with stupid people.  You can’t negotiate with stupid, stupid wins every time.

There you have it.  This is similar to our article about social etiquette with celebrities.  If you are cool to the restaurant, they will be cool to you.  If you are not, get used to waiting in line with the sheep and grazing at the 2-top next to the bathroom.

Thanks For Reading … Bon Appetite!

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