No, We Will Not Hold Your Restaurant Reservation For You
When you make a restaurant reservation, you select the specific time you will arrive, correct? You don’t just say I’ll be there on Tuesday sometime between 5:00 and midnight. The exact time is a pretty specific requirement for making a reservation. Dare I say it’s impossible to make a reservation without specifying what time it’s for? If the reservation is for 7:00, that means you should get there by 7:00. It’s not a suggestion or a notion, it’s a directive.Most restaurants are going to allow some type of grace period for a reservation, say 15-20 minutes. That’s to allow for unexpected circumstances that might come up on your way to the restaurant, like traffic or forgetting something at home and having to go back to get it.
It’s not there because you have poor time management skills and/or no respect for others. If you’re late for your reservation, the restaurant has the right to cancel it. “But I made a reservation!” you say? Yes. Yes, you did and now it’s canceled.
Most restaurants make their money by “turning tables.” Unless you’re eating at a restaurant with a three-hour tasting menu, they need to seat, and then reseat each table as many times as possible over the course of one evening. If you have a reservation for 6:30 and the restaurant opens at 5:00, they probably have kept your table empty since opening time. They can’t risk seating someone at 5:00 and then not have a table for you at 6:30. That means that table is already losing money from the get go.
If you show up to your reservation a half-hour late, well, maybe they could have used that table at 5:00. Congratulations, you just screwed over the restaurant.
If you’re going to be late, call, but don’t expect them to necessarily save the table for you. Fifteen minutes, sure. Annoying, but not problem. Thirty minutes? Now you’re just being rude. There might be customers chomping at the bit for your table and the restaurant will see them as a bird in the hand, ready to spend money. You’ve already shown that punctuality means absolutely nothing to you, so what if your thirty minutes turns into forty or fifty minutes?
The restaurant should tell you they will do their best to seat you when you arrive, but they can no longer guarantee your reservation. And by the way, calling to say you’re running ten minutes late after you were already supposed to have arrived is not helpful. They already know you’re late.
Some restaurants require a credit card to make a reservation and they will slap on a charge if you’re a no-show. Customers may balk at the idea, but as mentioned before, empty tables don’t make money. Maybe a $25 charge for holding a table for you when you don’t show up is enough incentive to either make it there in time or try harder the next time. The restaurant would rather you be there because you will definitely spend more money on food and drinks than twenty-five lousy bucks, but restaurants have to at least try to make up for the loss.
If you’re going to make a reservation, get there on time. If you want to cancel it, cancel it. Showing up late or not showing up at all is only going to make you look like the inconsiderate asshole you are. And the next time you try to make a reservation, they might not let you do it. Seriously, some of the reservation software programs let the restaurant notate that you were a no-show. It’s sort of like your customer rating on Uber. If you have too many marks against you, no one will want to drive you to a restaurant and then once you do get there, the restaurant won’t want to feed you.