These days it can take some planning if you want to dine out at your favorite restaurant. If it is a restaurant that does not take reservations, you need to plan for putting your name on a waiting list and how long you are willing to wait. If you are going to a restaurant that does take reservations, then there are steps that can be taken to ensure the process is helpful to both you and the restaurant.
Plan well in advance
If it is going to be the first time that you are going to a particular restaurant, then it pays to do some research. Whether it's from reviews in the paper, talking with friends that have gone there themselves, or calling the restaurant directly, find out how busy the restaurant is and what their peak times are. Also important, how far in advance you need to make the reservation. Some are same day, but popular restaurants can have waiting lists or are booked out weeks or months in advance.
Many restaurants have the ability to take reservations via their website, mobile app, or Facebook. Some apps, such as Rezku, even allow you to pay by phone, allowing you to leave the restaurant as soon as you are done without the delay of payment processing. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes the apps will say there are no tables available because restaurants hold some back for walk-in customers.
That's when you call. If you aren't able to see a time available on the app, call and try to make the reservation by phone. Oftentimes the old fashioned phone call is more successful. Just be courteous as you will get a better result with honey than with vinegar.
Be willing to go at off-peak times
If your time is not available, ask about earlier or later times. Nowadays there are even apps that help restaurants book unpopular time slots by allowing them to offer discounts or freebies. You might be able to save money on your bill by going at one of these special times.
Supply both your email and your cellphone number
Today's technology allows restaurants to communicate with their customers via a variety of ways. To make sure you are always getting the latest news regarding your reservation, whether it be a confirmation or a reminder, give both your cellphone number (for text messages) and your email address.
Don't lie about such things as the number of your party or making out that you are some VIP. A common trick is to call in for a large party table and then say friends cancelled at the last minute. Restaurants have their tables and nights completely scheduled out and such things can really disrupt service for the entire restaurant and irritate the staff.
Keep them notified
Restaurants now keep notes and statistics on every guest. They can keep track of how many times you've visited, cancelled, been a no-show, or even were an unruly guest. If your plans change, you are running late, or need to cancel, be sure to call them and let them know. It's better to have nice notes on your profile than bad ones.
When you arrive at the restaurant you may have to wait past your reservation time. While restaurants try to plan based on expected table durations, other guests might take longer than the restaurant planned. The fact is, they can't seat you without a vacant table. Being patient and understanding will get you farther and you could be rewarded by an appetizer or dessert on the house.
It should not be difficult to get a reservation as long as you plan and are courteous to a restaurant.
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