"Ma'am, it's 9:00 Friday night, we simply don't have a table. I'm sorry."
The the lady yells, makes a scene, demands that she is a personal friend of the owner (he's never heard of her), ruins the dining experience of everyone else there, and is generally, an ass.
We've all seen it, and some of us have been it or with it, but let's think about the "it" for a minute. Reservations are there to guarantee you a seat, and early enough, the best seat in the house. It promises a table on the busiest of nights. Thus, how is it not fair that the restaurant not have a table when everyone else was sure to call ahead? Answer: it's perfectly fair that you not get a table.
This is preaching to the choir, I'm sure each of you know good restaurant decorum, but remember a few things.
- Some restaurants, especially the newest, trendiest ones, will probably have a wait regardless of your reservation. You're promised a table, no worries, it just may not be at the exact time you wanted.
- Get there early, you might be able to get seated early.
- If you are early or your table isn't ready, take some time at the bar and check out the menu.
- Don't make scene, it bothers other patrons, annoys the wait staff, upsets the host/hostess, and may embarass your dining companions.
- You may want a specific table, make sure you note that in the reservation.
- Check out the website first if they have one, some places require reservations months in advance. However, on average, call at least 5-7 days ahead.
- Do not slip the host or hostess a $20. This is just tacky. Sure it may score you a table, but ten to one, the hostess may just give you a quizzical look of, "Is this guy serious?"