No Reservations, Please

At the restaurant I work in, we do not take reservations. No matter how whiny and petulant a guest will get, we still won’t do it.

“But please? It’s gonna be my mom’s 70th birthday and there will be fifteen of us. We just don’t wanna have to wait when we get there. We’ll be there at 7:30, I promise. Please? Pretty please??”


“I don’t understand why not. Don’t you want my business?”

This conversation happens at least once a week.

The truth is, Ms. Whiny, we don’t need your reservation because we can fill those tables without having to keep them empty for an hour before you say you will get there, that’s why. So put your name on the list and have a seat at the bar and we’ll call you when your fucking table is ready. Oh, and happy birthday to your mom.

Customers don’t understand that a reservation for fifteen can kill a whole evening if the restaurant is as small as mine. In order to keep those fifteen seats open for a 7:30 reservation, that means we can’t seat them past 6:45, and that’s pushing it. At 7:30, four people will show up and then at 7:35 three more and by 7:45 maybe ten people will be there. They will spread out in the space that we saved for fifteen people and than at 8:00 they will finally tell us, ‘I guess nobody else is coming so we’ll go ahead and order now.” The problem is that there are now ten people sitting at a table for fifteen and those five seats are going to be useless for the rest of the evening. They will leave at 10:00 and we will never have gotten to turn that table over even once. I’d rather see seven deuces that I can turn and burn and reset the tables and do it again.

A restaurant in Beverly Hills called Red Medicine takes reservations but if you skip out on it, get ready for a little bit of Twitter shame. According to NBC Los Angeles, the manager has taken to Tweeting out the names of people who make reservations and then don’t show up.

When someone named Kyle Anderson bailed on his res, they tweeted, “I hope you enjoyed your gf’s bday and the flowers that you didn’t bring when you no-showed for your 8:15 res. Thanks.” Of course, Kyle Anderson probably never saw this Tweet and if he did he probably didn’t care because he was too busy trying to decide if his girlfriend would rather have red carnations for her birthday or pink roses with tons of baby’s breath. Truth be told, most blow up dolls would rather go with the carnations since the thorns on roses can be dangerous for them. Keep that in mind, Kyle.

Of course there are plenty of people who think what the restaurant is doing is wrong. I, however, freakin’ love it. When I worked at the Marriott, I hated when people made reservations and then didn’t show up. I would always call and leave some passive aggressive message on their answering machine.

“Hello, Mr. Anderson. This is BW calling from the Brooklyn Marriott about your 1:00 brunch reservation. It’s 1:15 now and I just wanted you to let you know that your table is ready and I am waiting for you. I hope you’re on your way and that everything is alright. If you’ve decided to not come, a phone call would have been nice.” 

My manager out a stop to that. They’re just lucky I didn’t have this blog back then.

But why shouldn’t we shame these people who skip out on a reservation? If we make an appointment for a massage or with a doctor and we don’t show up, we are hit with a cancellation fee. It’s not like Red Medicine is charging them money when they don’t show up, it’s just doing a little bit of good old-fashioned public shaming. Think back to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s’ opus, The Scarlett Letter. When Hester had to wear that big red “A’ on her dress to announce to the village that she was a big ol’ whore, I bet it taught her a lesson, don’t you think? Maybe Kyle Anderson will think twice the next time he’s gonna blow off a dinner reservation. And speaking of “blowing off,” I hope he had a wonderful night with his girlfriend.

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4 thoughts on “No Reservations, Please

  1. Georgette

    Tra Vigne in St. Helena when Michael Chiarello ran the joint eons ago used to take a credit card number when you made a reservation. I am sure a small no show charge was run on the card if needed.

  2. Rogue Wino

    I had a reservation for a 15 top get double booked one night, because two different people from the party called in. Pretty much f'ed up my night. I miss the simplicity of not doing reservations

  3. Brandi

    I was at a Red Lobster restaurant one night (10 years ago-ish), and they had an entire lobby full of people waiting to be seated. It was probably 7:20 in the evening. At 7:45, a party of 4 strolled in and got to keep the reservation they were 45 minutes late for!! I was thinking, “What about the rest of us that have been standing around for the last 45 minutes?” Yeah definitely on board with the “no reservations” policy.


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