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Interesting Valentines Day Reservations Policy

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So I call Josie to make a reservation for our Valentine's Day dinner and am told the following:

The only option for the evening is a $95 prix fix.

They need my fax number to fax me a form I have to fill out to put down my my credit card info for a $50 deposit.

They don't yet have the menu set. So they basically want us to put a deposit down before we know if we
want to eat the only thing that will be served.

What do you guys think of this? I understand the neccesity to do this with special dining-out occasions (they don't want empty tables on such a lucrative night) but I thought not having the actual menu set before we are expected to pay a deposit was a bit much.

The deposit is fully refundable if the cancellation is before the 7th of Feb.

It feels a little bit like the scene in LA Story where Steve Martin has to have his personal financial statement examined before they let him eat at L'Idiot (and then they tell him he can only have the chicken)

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  1. Whatever the market will bear (or tolerate).
    Only you can decide if the restaurant and date makes it worth tolerating this rather high handed policy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Griller141

      I should have added that we won't be doing this. I'm just curious if anyone else has run into a similar experience on special occasions.

      The only other time I was asked to give my credit card in advance was on a Saturday night at Cafe Del Rey for a party of 6.

      1. re: Paulette F

        Melisse is doing the exact same thing. Though they include a "Sample" menu, without stating whether or not it is the actual menu.

    2. i say "l.a. restaurants - get over yourselves!" this might fly at an established restaurant in paris with an established chef - but they would never be gauche enough to take a deposit!

      but after that mini-rant, i have to say it's probably equally the fault of the l.a. flake factor. in paris, you make a reservation at a desirable restaurant and you keep it. here in l.a. it's almost some kind of stupid status thing to make a tough reservation and then blow it off.

      god i hate the restaurant scene here. and yes, it's all about the scene.

      1 Reply
      1. re: louisa

        The problem is most people will just put up with it, so it will go on....

      2. There are lots of fine restaurants that will not be doing this. Go to Joe's, Axe, Lilly, all on Abbott Kinney. I bet Lunaria and Fenix at the Argyle will not be doing this either. So many options. As they say, vote with your feet.

        1. I can understand the idea of a prix-fixe set menu. (Usually prix fixe doesn't mean just one dish - there are almost always a couple of choices of entree in my experience.)

          I can understand requiring a deposit, though that still seems high-handed and, IMNSHO, taints the evening with the idea that you're paying on installments.

          However, requiring a deposit before the menu is set is just plain arrogant.

          Last year we went to the Inn of the Seventh Ray and they required a deposit and it was, in fact, a prix-fixe menu ($70 for vegan or vegetarian, $75 for meat). The difference was that there were many, many choices (seven or eight if I recall rightly) and so you weren't stuck if you didn't like it.

          Me, I prefer not to buy a pig in a poke. I'm making reservations at Divina Cucina, our favourite little Italian place in the foothills, and while I'm sure I will have to put a deposit, I am sure it won't be anywhere near $50.

          I'd say, vote with your feet. Check out places like Michael's or Jiraffe or even Granita.

          3 Replies
          1. re: PRSMDave

            Could we have an address for the divine Divina Cuchina!? please.

            1. re: Zoe

              Soitenly! 3730 Verdugo Rd., Montrose. 818/248-3077.

              It's not one of the 'big names' of L.A., but it's so much less pretentious and so much less hassle and so much less attitude à la L'Idiot-in-L.A.-Story that it's become one of my favourite restaurants.

              Of course, the fact that my office is two blocks away probably doesn't hurt either. :)

              1. re: PRSMDave

                I agree this is a fairly good place. Nothing overly special, but reliable, friendly, and not overpriced (though the chairs are a little too hard for me). A similar place nearby is Pasta Precioso; food may not be quite as good, but comfortable, informal, fairly priced. If you're in that area, I suggest La Cabinita - it has been extensively and favorably discussed on this board.

          2. Hearing all of these stories has just cemented the decision I made many years ago -- never go out for Valentine's Day. The last time I went out, my date and I waited 90 minutes for our table even though I had reserved a table. This was the last of a string of terrible Valentine's Day experiences. No credit card deposits for me.

            1. Geeezzz guys, as a avid chowhound reader, although I have not been on in 2 weeks cuz I've been sick I get the message. One of my customers just told me to check it out. Funny because I'm next door in the office working on the Valentine's menu.

              Most small restaurants require some kind of deposit on Holiday's because people make reservations in several restaurants and don't always call and cancel. It is sad the evening of a special night like Valentine's to see empty tables when we have had to turn people away for a week because we were booked. We only have 75 seats, to see tables empty is sad for both of us.

              The Valentine's menu will be $85.00 and will be 5 course with 5 to 6 choices in each course, I like people to have a lot to pick from. The menu will be up on the web site tomorrow January 18th. Sorry I took so long. Gotta go... finish the menu!

              3 Replies
              1. re: josie

                I'm the customer who told you to check out Chowhound last night. Dinner was great. I started with the quail and then the veal chop. My husband had the black barley chicken soup and then the boar. I can't wait to see the valentine menu (it's not up yet). Count us in!

                1. re: josie
                  j
                  john gonzales

                  Didn't get the time to post yesterday but I don't see what the big deal is. The restaurant (as with most) gives you a window to cancel. The menu will be out beforehand. If you don't like it when it comes out, just cancel. (although hearing about the place I doubt it. I'd also imagine it will be prix fixe but have options). Would one rather be told that the menu is not out but reservations and deposits will be taken when it is? You'd have to repeatedly call back, and risk the chance that you might miss the boat.
                  I think the proprietor explained a great reason for the policy. People that are no shows or, last minute cancellations hurt everyone. The establishment loses a profit base, and if they do so have to charge everyone else just that much more. Which is why it would be nice if everyone always called to cancel in a timely fashion. Living in L.A. is a two-edge food sword, we have lots of hot, good restaurants; but they're accordingly the subject of big demand.
                  On a related note, not knowing what we wanted for X-mas, my wife and I someone we'd like a dinner at Josie. Sure enough the dining certificate was graciously given, except it was for JOSS! Oops,Bummer!
                  (although there's nothing bad about Joss)

                  1. re: josie

                    I totally agree with you. Most of us don't realize the impact of someone making reservations on busy nights and for special dinners and not showing up, especially for a party of six or more. I have no problem with confirming with a credit card.

                  2. $85 for your Valentine's Day dinner at Josie represents a good value. You will not be disappointed. My only quibble with her deposit policy is the 7-day cancellation. Given the popularity, 3 days should be sufficient. In any event, accept nothing less than Josie.