Pacific Grill's Gordon Naccarato asks an interesting question in The You Plate Special that I'd like to highlight for discussion here:
I would love to hear some blogging on the topic of why people in Tacoma don't make reservations.
Cases in point: one recent weekday we had 6 on the book for Lunch (total people). We ended up doing 88. (Isn't that like 1500% more people than we started with?) A recent dinner we started with 86 reservations. Finished with 206. (Over 200% increase)...
When we start with only 6 people on the books for a Lunch say, the manager may not "call-in" the extra server scheduled. Plus servers already working might be "phased" early...
Then wham we get clobbered and service suffers.
Same thing at dinner. Then you start to over-schedule, thinking the trend is 2 times the number of reservations you start with and BAM only your reservations show up and no walk-ins! And you have staffed your evening to do 200 people and 126 show up.
I can't figure it out. Everyone wants good service (most of all me). I am wondering if people realize how important it is to make reservations? How it helps us schedule enough servers, busboys, bartenders, managers, and dishwashers.
I don't make reservations because I often eat on whim. Or I have a vague plan that I'm going to eat at a certain restaurant on a certain day.
I may go alone or I may be lucky enough to round up someone willing to go to dinner with me. I'm usually never sure until the last minute, because the few people I'm comfortable eating with -- the ones who don't say stupid things in front of servers like, "Ed, what do you want me to order" or "Will the newspaper pay for wine?" -- or the few co-workers that I'd actually want to spend time with outside the office are usually busy and are as opposed to planning as I am.
I'll only make reservations for special occasions -- like my wife's birthday, a day I had better be on top of all details or I get a big package of whoop-ass. I would, however, make it a point to make a reservation if I was dining with more than four people.
That said, I don't believe that it is the responsibility of diners to ensure that restaurants are properly staffed and ready. You're open for business, you're open for anything that comes your way.
I've copied one Ed's Diner patron's comment from The You Plate Special to the comments section here. The rest of you can join the discussion, too.