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Does "Cut" Play Reservation Games? [moved from LA board]

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Recently, the Los Angeles Times published an article about various high-flying restaurants that purport to take reservations only during exceptionally early or exceptionally later hours, supposedly being "booked" solid at other times. When the Times reporters went to the restaurants during more popular dining hours, they found there was plenty of available seating (with some of the supposedly busy restaurants being almost empty).

For the past two months, we have attempted to get a reservation at Cut. We were told each time that there was no reservation available during the 7pm to 8pm time slots; all that was available were the very early or the very late hours. We were told that, if we wanted a reservation at 7:30 or 8, we should call 30-days in advance. We did so. No luck. Still, no availability during any of the popular dining hours.

Is Cut playing games, reserving its best times for persons it perceives to be VIPs? And, is Cut even worth the trouble?

Thanks.

Food Scrounger

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  1. Did you try walking in?

    Re. your question "is Cut even worth the trouble?": not to me.

    1. I can't speak to the games part. We reserved a table for a party of 10 30 days out. They gave us a choice of 6:00PM or 9:00PM. We opted for 6:00 P and ended up having our table until almost 11:00 PM, no rushing. The whole experience from top to bottom was fantastic.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Tinitime

        Well, yeah. 10 people paying Cut prices is quite the profit. they were not going to make you do anything you didn't want to.

        1. re: Diana

          My party of 2 recieved the same great treatment and have been back 3 or 4 times since (at 6, 7:30 and 9 reservations) and had the same level of service every time.

      2. i just called yesterday and got a friday night 7:30 for january 4th - they didn't seem too snooty or unaccomodating

        1. Some restaurants set aside a portion of their seats for walk-in business. I can understand sizing that portion depending on business trends.

          1. We are going for Christmas Eve, which meant we had to call on Nov 24th as they do only take reservations one month out.

            The phones open at 10 AM. I called on Nov 24th and talked to the hostess at 10:01 AM. She offered me 6 or 9 PM. Having also read the LA Times article about this insanity, I admit I had a little heat in my voice when I said, 'You mean to tell me you just booked up from 6:30 to 9 in one minute?' She was at least honest and said they take no reservations many nights between those times, to make sure the people in the early seating have enough time to dine and are not rushed. Because I have been before and loved it, we booked at 6. I do hate the game, though.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Tom P

              Yes, when my fiance called they also said they only take reservations for 6 and 9. Not at 6:30, not at 7:00, not at 8:00, etc. So at least they're consistent.

              We went at 9 on a Thursday once and it was packed the entire time we were there, fwiw.

              1. re: Pei

                The "general public" may only make reservations @ six and nine, but rest assured that tomcat and beckham will get anytime they please.

                When I was there (6:30 reservation), people were arriving all night long. If, indeed as they say, they only take six and nine, then that wouldn't be the case.

                And, for the original poster, I wouldn't go back to CUT unless someone else were paying. And even then, it wouldn't be one of my top choices. They have attitude galore and the food just isn't that great - the apps and deserts were the best things on the menu - not a great sign for a steakhouse!

                I'm glad I went, however, to get it out of my system.

                1. re: manku

                  I have no doubt you're right about a certain set being able to arrive when they please.

                  However, for me the draw of CUT is precisely that they have amazing apps and desserts. Yes, the steaks were a step above the usual (LA's not a great steakhouse town in either price or quality compared to New York or Chicago), but it was refreshing to have choices beyond creamed spinach and a choice of potato.

                  As for service, we did notice a little snootiness on the part of the front desk, but our server for the evening was nothing short of fantastic. Polite, informative, attentive without hovering, and sincere. We both noted at the end of our meal that it was the type of service we look forward to at high end establishments--there's rarely a balance found between brusque but efficient and cheesily enthusiastic/friendly but slow.

            2. Try your credit card concierge service. They've done wonders for me, both in LA and other cities.

              4 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Agree wholeheartedly with ipse above. My AmEx Concierge has never failed me with getting "tough tables"...

                1. re: J.L.

                  Aah, credit card concierge. Will have to follow up with Citibank. Thanks for the tip. Visiting from SF this past summer, I could only get 6:00 & 9:00 at Cut (w/ 2 wks notice). Unfortunately, those times didn't work due to varied sightseeing hours & kids. OTOH, those times look pretty good compared to Mozza's "the earliest we have is 11:00 p.m." Lookin' that way even now for holidays.

                  1. re: ceekskat

                    Keep checking in with Mozza, a few days in advance, a day in advance, then the morning you want to go. They do get cancellations that can free up spots. I've gotten prime tables the day before and the day of there.

                    1. re: Woolsey

                      Thanks, will give it a try!

              2. Hi Food Scounger! I can't tell you about this particular restaurant but many times when a restaurant will not take a 7 PM or 8PM reservation it is because those tables may already have 7:30 reservations on them.

                When you walk in and see an empty restaurant at 6:30 and can't get a table, it may be that the restaurant has 7PM and 7:30 reservations on them and know they can't turn the table fast enough to seat you.

                And lastly, it may just be they will not take reservations during that time because you can turn a restaurant much faster by not taking reservations and the restaurant makes more money.

                5 Replies
                1. re: BlueHerons

                  "you can turn a restaurant much faster by not taking reservations and the restaurant makes more money"

                  Please explain?

                  1. re: RicRios

                    I might not be thinking exactly what BlueHerons is thinking, but it seems logical to me that a very popular restaurant (one with a line out the door or people constantly calling) would serve a lot more tables per night if they had a no reservations policy.

                    They could take customers as soon as dinner starts, and fill the table again as soon as people leave.

                    Compare to a restaurant that opens for dinner at 5, but doesn't have any reservations until 5:30, and then the guests finish eating at 6:30 but they've left enough time for the guests to eat slowly and therefore don't have more guests arriving until 7:30 (but can't very well tell customers lining up outside that they can eat but have to leave in under an hour), etc.

                    1. re: RicRios

                      A restaurant makes its money on how many times it can 'turn' the tables. A restaurant that takes reservations that has a 7PM reservation on a table can only seat it at 5PM or at 9:30PM which may be unlikely to happen.

                      However, if the restaurant doesn't take reservations, depending upon how busy they are, the restaurant may seat that same table at 5:30, 7:30, and 9:30 PM. People don't usually mind waiting until 9:30 for a table but don't like having a 9:30 reservation.

                      Does that explain it better?

                      1. re: BlueHerons

                        Not quite. I'm thinking of the "No reservations available" usual response the OP was getting at CUT. As the already cited article in the LATimes said, many places that DON'T have a line of people waiting at the door still pretend they have no available tables for a given time slot. You walk in at that time and there's plenty of empty tables. I can't for the sake of me understand how could they possibly be making more money by not taking reservations in this context.

                        1. re: RicRios

                          As a restaurant manager, I can tell you that BlueHerons has it right. I think Ric is being a little difficult here. Perhaps I can try summing up:
                          - At a busy restaurant, a "no reservations" policy could result in higher sales
                          - This "no reservations" policy can be for a portion or all of the restaurant, and it could be for a portion or all of its business hours
                          - Lying about your restaruant's reservation policy is in Bad Form

                          By the way, as a manager, you occassionaly have to deal with people that don't understand restaurant operations. Have you ever had to stare at a group of walk-in guests at a host stand for 15 minutes while there are clearly open (reserved) tables in their view?

                          Cheers!