Is the rise of the no-reser­va­tions pol­icy a bad thing for din­ers?

Hong Kong Tatler - - The Great Debate -


A restau­rant is in the busi­ness of pro­vid­ing hos­pi­tal­ity, and that is where its fo­cus should re­main. Of course, a no-book­ings pol­icy is great from the point of view of restau­rant op­er­a­tions. Es­tab­lish­ments don’t have to worry about an­noy­ing no-shows, they can ask guests to wait at the bar and gen­er­ate more drink sales, they won’t need as many re­cep­tion­ists, and they can def­i­nitely take in more din­ers. It’s great for busi­ness. That said, hos­pi­tal­ity should come first. A restau­rant ex­ists to serve guests what should be a truly great din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. And when guests are will­ing to make the ef­fort to plan and re­serve a ta­ble at a restau­rant days, weeks or even months ahead of time, but are then de­nied—well, that’s just not very hos­pitable. If some­one wants to take their in-laws or their 90-year-old grandma to din­ner, they prob­a­bly don’t want to perch at a crowded bar or­der­ing drinks while they wait for a ta­ble to be­come avail­able.

Calvin is the pro­pri­etor of Lily & Bloom


Res­tau­rants that don’t take reser­va­tions have re­vi­talised the din­ing scene; run­ning a small busi­ness has be­come eas­ier and din­ers are gain­ing new ex­pe­ri­ences. By only ac­cept­ing walk-ins, res­tau­rants cre­ate de­mand and scarcity of seats at the op­ti­mal de­sired din­ing time, which forces guests to be more flex­i­ble. Most peo­ple, my­self in­cluded, love to dine at 8pm. If ev­ery­one ate then, res­tau­rants would only get one seat­ing per evening, caus­ing rev­enue to be half what it could be if they turned over each seat twice. And as a restau­rant owner, it’s frus­trat­ing to turn walk-ins away due to ta­bles be­ing re­served, only for the guests not to ar­rive. When we opened Yard­bird in July 2011, peo­ple were an­gry that we didn’t take book­ings. I be­lieve that be­cause we stood our ground, the din­ing land­scape has be­come freer, more fun and more spon­ta­neous. Some­times it’s nice not to plan and just go with the flow (and have a drink at the bar while wait­ing for a ta­ble).

Lind­say is the co-owner of Yard­bird and Ronin

calvin ku

lind­say Jang

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