Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Not-So-New Trend of No Reservations


Published:

 

Half hr wait at 7:45 on a Saturday? @hi_lo_diner has a hit on its hands!

A photo posted by Minnesota Monthly (@mnmomag) on

 

I spent a lot of time waiting for a table this month. I do it for you, of course. I do it for my gig reviewing here at Minnesota Monthly. Truth be told, if it wasn’t for this job, I’m not sure I’d ever go to a restaurant that didn’t take reservations.

I hate to call it a “new” trend. Around here when Tilia opened in 2011 without reservations, that quickly became the place to wait for a table. I waited there for almost 90 minutes once, although with its fantastic beer selection and welcoming bar, that 90 minutes felt more like 45. This month I’ve waited at Mucci’s (40 seats), Handsome Hog (66 seats), and Hi-Lo Diner (70 seats). Add Revival and Saint Dinette to the list of no-reservation spots in town.

Mucci’s was 30 minutes on a Wednesday night at 6 p.m., Hi-Lo was 30 minutes on a Thursday night at 6:30 p.m., and Handsome Hog was 80 minutes on a Saturday night at 6:15 p.m. Mucci’s and Hi-Lo was with our two kids as well, which was a true exercise in their patience.

Why do restaurants do this? A lot of reasons. If you can’t make a reservation, you can’t not show up for a reservation. No-shows cost restaurants money because successful spots are in effect turning someone else away from that seat. And it’s hard to fault the restaurants: we are lining up at these spots, we are packing the places with more diners than would eat there if there were reservations.

New technology has made waiting a little easier. All of these restaurants use iPad systems that will text you when your table is ready, and show you the queue so you know how many people are in front of you in line.

But it’s not very hospitable, is it? What hospitality is there when you have to stack up near the entrance of a place, or wait outside until you get to enter the temple? Isn’t there a middle ground here—maybe make people put down a credit card for a reservation and then charge no-shows? Maybe allow some reservations?

When you have kids, you’re already paying a babysitter to enjoy a night out at a great restaurant. Now you’re also paying to wait. This mostly seems to be a young person’s game, I don’t know a lot of people over the age of 45 willing to wait in line. Someone help me understand why it makes sense to have a restaurant designed to be welcoming and pleasurable and an escape to the diner—but then makes you line up and stand there for more than an hour?

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Lawless Distilling Bartender Named "Most Imaginative"

Minneapolis bartender Brandon Sass won the 12th Annual Most Imaginative Bartender regional competition

Toast the Royal Wedding with British-Gin Cocktails

As Britain’s Prince Harry and U.S.-actress Megan Markle tie the knot, raise a glass to the happy couple—and those close to you—with wedding-themed tipples

Bottoms-Up Cinnamon Caramel Pinwheels Recipe

With this fast version of a sticky bun, baking at home can be no muss, no fuss—and delicious

Leslie Bock's Newest Bar Wants to Save the Future

"We're attempting to show humans as messy and complicated."

Rosé All Day: The Best Tastings (Some Free)

More than 100 different rosé wines available to try—many for free

Wine Clubs: The Perfect Mother's Day Gift

Sip Better figures out your taste for wine and goes deep

Gavin Kaysen Takes Midwest Gold

A quick note on our 2018 James Beard Best Chef: Midwest

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: May

This month, Sue Z. recommends supporting local student chefs with a dinner at Saint Dinette

Greek Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kebabs Recipe

Get fired up for grilling season with tender, flavorful chicken kebabs by meat guru Bruce Aidells and a marinade that also works well with other proteins
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags