Five Ways to Avoid a Wait.

It occurred to me that this type of list might be useful to those who hate waiting for a table..

5) Know your calendar.
Restaurants in a mall will be VERY busy around the holidays and back to school. Stand alone restaurants will be very busy on the weekends, especially in the afternoon and evenings (duh). All restaurants are busy around Valentine's Day. If you hate waiting, do not patronize restaurants at these times.

4) Read between the lines.
If a host tells you that the wait will be fifteen minutes, that probably means ten. An hour wait quote probably means 40 to 50 minutes. Restaurants deliberately over quote wait times by 10 to 15%. This ensures that they are exceeding your expectations and seating you faster than you hoped. However, there is such a thing as too much business. I've noticed that once a restaurant get over an hour wait, things start to get dicey. It's hard to accurately predict a wait over an hour and I have personally (as a host) over quoted the wait because I knew the restaurant couldn't handle any more business. Keep this in mind if a host gives you an incredibly long wait quote. He/She is probably doing you a favor. A two hour wait at a corporate chain restaurant probably means somebody has really screwed up.

3) Listen to the host's instructions.

A host can't seat you if you aren't listening to what they tell you to do. Some restaurants have pagers that go off when your table is ready. Other restaurants call names over a public address system. Make sure you are doing whatever the host is telling you to do. Hosts are on your side. Trust me. They don't want to look at you any longer then they need to. It is in their self interest to do so. Hosts that have long waits get heat from the management team. The restaurant I worked at had a pager system with a limited range. Inevitable, on a busy night, people would go out of our pager range (despite instructions to the contrary) and miss their table notification. The guests would, of course, blame the hosts for not paging them or skipping them on the list. Complaining would not help the situation because the table had been filled by the next person on the wait.

2) Call Ahead Seating: Use it.
Most restaurants have a "call ahead" policy that will dramatically reduce your wait time. The restaurant I worked at encouraged people to call 30 minutes ahead of their arrival. Doing so reduced their wait time by at least half. People who call ahead also have a psychological advantage over traditional walk in guests because the hosts always looked to seat call aheads first. Call aheads are, typically, the first to complain to a manager if they are not seated quickly. Hosts know this and will do whatever they can to seat them.

1) Be reasonable.
Just because you are hungry does not mean the world stops for you. Also, just because you see open tables in a restaurant that does not mean you should be able to sit there. Open tables in a busy restaurant typically means the restaurant is understaffed. (Too many guests, not enough servers). Complaining will not magically create more servers, cooks, etc. If you see open tables in a restaurant while a host is running a wait, I would go elsewhere for your meal. Your service will probably suffer due to an over worked server. Hosts do not skip people on a wait intentionally. Hosting a restaurant on a very busy night is one of the hardest things I've ever done. You literally have dozens of people every minute asking you questions. Give them a break, don't make a scene, and things will go a lot smoother for you. That's a promise.

1 comment:

Gina Johnson said...

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