Why don’t restaurants reserve their patio tables instead of first come, first served?

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Why don’t restaurants reserve their patio tables instead of first come, first served? —Christine R., Saint-Louis

This is another one of those “it’s complicated” questions. Generally, if restaurants could take reservations for tables outside, they would. The problems are the weather and the inconstancy of the public to eat.

During the temperate months, if there is wind, rain, or unexpected cold during service, patio patrons have nowhere to go if the dining rooms are full.

Years ago Brant Baldanza, Managing Partner of OG Hospitality Group (owners of The Corner Pub, The Tavern and The Shack) joked, “Every one of our managers now has to have a degree in meteorology… and these people are right. . half the time! “

Baldanza has learned never to book a full restaurant and a terrace at the same time. “It’s a matter of greed versus experience,” he says. “Once you’ve met 60 customers soaked in the aisles, hallways, around reception and expecting you to provide them with seats and towels!” at present, you look at the situation with different eyes.

At Billy G’s, home to one of the metro area’s busiest restaurant terraces, co-owner Billy Gianino says staff watch “a lot of Doppler” and are only occasionally surprised they don’t have seats for them. clients seeking shelter.

As the chances of inclement weather increase, savvy managers will stop placing tables in indoor dining rooms – if they can – knowing they could be of use if the skies open up.

Dealing with unpredictable weather conditions is one of the reasons why most restaurateurs do not take reservations for uncovered outdoor seating, preferring to sit at these tables on a first come, first basis. served.

For this reason, places with closed or partially enclosed patios sometimes accept reservations, but expect a confirmation call – or two – as guests often don’t bother to cancel their reservations, which costs customers. restaurants money they won’t get back.

That said, as more and more covered outdoor spaces have popped up last fall and winter, taking a reservation – on a patio, inside a tent, an igloo, a mini greenhouse or, in the case of Edera in the Central West End, a public holiday chalet-just got a lot easier. Restaurants invested heavily in these structures last year. Expect them to reappear in the coming months.


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