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Open Table - Always a Bad Table

Anyone else notice that you always get the worst table in the house when you use Open Table? And not only for last minute reservations? I love the convenience of Open Table and was using it as my default for resverations, but I started to notice that I ALWAYS got a bad table. I got the absolute WORST table at Estia for a reservation I made weeks in advance. Do restaurants hate Open Table users? If so, why do they participate?

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  1. It's hit or miss for me. I too like the convenience. I've had great seating at a number of restaurants (Osteria, James...)when reserving thu OT, and some not so great at restaurants that I got great seating when using OT. It's the convenience factor for me. Otherwise, I just call up and hope they have openings.

    1. I use Open Table whenever I can, and I can't recall ever feeling I'd gotten a bad table. I prefer OT to the telephone because I have a printed record of the reservation - makes me feel safer.

      2 Replies
      1. re: small h

        I've never had that problem either.

        1. re: small h

          Agreed. I've never had a problem with table location using OT.

        2. I don't work in the restaurant business, but I don't believe it's shown as an OT vs. Phone/In-person reservation being made - OT, from the restaurant side, is used as a tool to maintain reservations, so whatever method is used, it all goes into the same system. Meaning, I don't think the hostess could give you a bad table based on OT/not OT status even if they wanted to.

          That being said, I use OT about 90% of the time when going out to eat, and have never really noticed an issue with a table I'm given - if I don't like a table, I tell them before we sit down, and usually they'll be accomodating (for me, it would be if it's under an a/c vent, next to the bathroom, etc.).

          1. No--I use it regularly and have never had this experience.

            1. I too have never had a problem. In fact with one reservation made a couple of weeks in advance, I called them the day before requesting a special table. I had asked if we could be seated at a table with a view (SF Bay Bridge) & of course they said they couldn't guarantee it. Alas come 8:00 p.m anniversary night, I got my view.

              1. YES! if the place is busy - you get the WORST table. and i've never had this experience when i've made a "real" reservation. but if the place is not busy - i get a normal table.

                i've stopped using opentable b/c of this.

                4 Replies
                1. re: dtud

                  If the place is busy, probably only the "bad" tables are left...

                  The restaurant can't tell how you booked your reservation if they use OpenTable's software.

                  1. re: jnstarla

                    Not true. I work in two restaurants that use OT and both can (and do) tell you if the res was made by web.

                    1. re: koeylondon

                      Then why do I always get great tables?

                      Not sure what you are intimating there?

                      I also have always gotten any special requests, whether dietary, or view.


                  2. re: dtud

                    Long time since your post, but I have NEVER experienced anything like that, in the US, or Europe. Not sure why you got a bad table, but I never have, with about 500 OT reservations, and that has never been affected by "busy nights," or anything else.

                    Sorry that you have had bad tables. Let me say that mine have been the best in the house.


                  3. This topic has come up before (see link below). In that thread, Kbee, who is a restaurant owner, does an excellent job of explaining the Open Table system. He/she makes it very clear that Open Table is a reservation management system for all seats in the restaurant; there is no distinction between reservations coming in via the phone and reservations coming in over the internet. Fascinating reading. I recommend you follow the link.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Indy 67

                      The one "issue" is that many restaurants only offer up X number of tables to OT.

                      When I cannot get a table, I just call, and one is usually available for me.


                    2. I gave up on booking tables with Open Table for the reason you mentioned, a "lost reservation", and Open Table requiring a credit card for a reservation once. Never again.

                      I now use Open Table only for research, and ideas of what may be available on a specific day, or time frame. I prefer calling the restaurant, and talking to a human being, I waste enough time on my computer.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: swsidejim

                        Open table didn't lose your reservation, the restaurant did. And Open Table didn't require a credit card to make a reservation, the restaurant did. Restaurants have individual policies that they, the restaurants enforce. Open Table has nothing to do with it.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          incorrect, I was able to book a table without a c.c.directly with the restaurant in question. Seems they didn't trust Open Table users to follow through on their reservations. I dont need the hassle of providing a c.c. for a table.

                          as for the lost reservation, that is debateable, maybe a server crash @ Open Table lost the reservation..., with that said I have never had a reservation lost that I booked over the phone talking with a human(were talking 1000 reservations or more). I'll take those odds, and blame Open Table. A good research tool, but not very usefull for me, plus as the OP posted, the tables were typically the worst in the house the handfull of times I did use Open Table.

                          I am curious why some folks seem to get so bent out of shape when a negative thing is said about Open Table, its nothing personal, it just does not work for me.

                          1. re: swsidejim

                            Nothing bent here as far as I can tell. ;-D The c.c. request is being made by the restaurant, not Open Table. They are free not to request a c.c. to reserve, and Open Table will then reflect the new restaurant policy.

                            Restaurants lose reservations. Servers do crash. Even if the restaurant isn't using Open Table they can still have their server go down if they use a computerized reservation system, (as so many seem to do these days) It's a PITA, but it happens. I think we have had it happen twice over the years. It's just that Open Table has nothing to gain from misplacing/mishandling your reservation

                            1. re: Servorg

                              I guess I just prefer the human interaction of booking the table with the restaurant. That and I was just relaying my experiences with Open Table, and why I wont use them to book a table. I still use Open Table as I mentioned above, as a research tool. I like that you can go one place, and easily get menus, and links to the restaurants websites.

                              1. re: swsidejim

                                That is fair. However, I often will book a week of dining, in other parts of the world, and timing things can be an issue. OT has always come through for me, and I have used them for many years. The only issues have been OE on my part, or no tables open to them, but then the restaurant always had what I needed.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  I like online systems like OpenTable and the others round the world. They're great when wanting to make reservations when time differences make phoning difficult or I think there may be language difficulties - and , of course, no cost of international calls.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    I cannot agree more.

                                    We travel fairly extensively, and being able to book on-line is a great big plus, at least for me.

                                    Whether OT, or other, I have never had an issue (except for one OE instance, to which I quickly own up to), and appreciate the opportunity to do so.

                                    If a particular restaurant does not have what I need, then I do call, and usually some tables open up. That happens locally, as well as in Rome, or London. To be expected.


                      2. I don't think it's open table per se. If you're not 'important' (eg VIP or regular), and you don't specifically ask for a certain table, you'll often get a bad one--someone has to.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: xanadude

                          Even when I do not ask for any "special table," the OT bookings always yield one. Now, I may be a VIP, but that should not matter.

                          No bad tables for me, in many years of using OT.


                        2. Oh wow - good to know! I have used Open Table but wound up cancelling the reservation so I've never actually been assigned a table. Very interesting! Maybe they think people won't show up....like me :(

                          1. Hounds, this Open Table-Bad Table thing is just an urban myth. If you want a better table, ask for one.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Trixie Too


                              Hello from the future - 2011. I seldom ask for any specific table (there are some exceptions), and have NEVER had one bad table.


                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                Although at restaurants I know I sometimes ask for specific areas and/or servers, but when i don't, I very rarely have been shown to a table that is not desirable. If this should happen, just ask to be reseated. At a good restaurant that shouldn't be a problem.

                                1. re: josephnl

                                  I agree, though my OT seatings have almost always been great.

                                  We do a lot of wines, so I will point that out, when it's just the two of us. They usually seat us at a 4-top, and in some cases, I have found out the exact table, that I need to request.


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    We too often request a 4-top for the two of us. It's just more comfortable for talking than across a table for 2. Of course, when a restaurant is busy this may not be possible. More often than not however, our request on OT is obliged.

                                    1. re: josephnl

                                      I do not often request a table, but more often a dietary requirement for my wife - no bi-valves on the chef's tasting menu, etc.

                                      However, as we normally do any available sommelier's pairings, we can end up with a lot of glasses, so I point this out.

                                      At one restaurant (usually book via OT), I have a specific table in mind, and request that. So far, it has always been honored, as that restaurant has seen us with 14 wine glasses on a smaller table, and it is not a pretty sight! [Grin]

                                      Maybe I have just been lucky, but OT has been excellent for me. As mentioned either up this thread, or maybe elsewhere, the only issues have been due to OE on my part, and in hundreds of reservations, that has only been twice, but definitely MY fault. The restaurants were cool, and accommodated me with but a smile in my direction.

                                      Sorry that others have not been so fortunate.


                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        Sorry Hunt...but what is OE? I've reread your post a few times, and I'm too dumb to figure it out!

                                        1. re: josephnl

                                          I believe he means Operator Error...(as in "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our Open Table, But in ourselves...") ;-D>

                                          1. re: josephnl

                                            Severog is 100% correct. Sorry about that. In this case, it distinctly translates to "my fault."


                              2. I use Open Table frequently and have never had this problem. However, on several occasions when Open Table said no reservations available, I have called the restaurant and gotten a reservation without any difficulty. I understand that this is not supposed to happen but it has.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Sinicle

                                  As with many of the issues that come up with Open Table, it is the restaurant that determines what tables are available through Open Table to be reserved online. For example, The French Laundry only has, I believe 2 tables a night available on Open Table...they clearly have more than 2 tables in the restaurant. Zuni Cafe in San Francisco doesn't make "prime time" tables available for online reservations only early and late tables. There's no problem with Open Table's system in that regard; its the restaurant's choice. Its a great point to keep in mind: just because you check online and don't see the time you want doesn't mean that you can't call the restaurant and get it. Open Table is only a tool and not the only way to get a reservation.

                                2. I usually get BETTER tables when I reserve through OT. I think the reason is that I have very specific (and sometimes contrary to the norm) ideas as to what type of table I prefer, and I feel less silly putting it in a written note than in trying to explain it (to an often busy person) on the phone, not knowing if it will even be written down. If you have a preference for type of table and use OT, put your preference in the comments section! I've had staff comment when I was being seated, 'I see you requested xxx, does this table meet your needs'..surprisingly often.

                                  Perhaps being specific seems high maintenence, but hey, at least they know what I like. And when I've already been to a restaurant, I will put something in the notes such as..."We'd appreciate a well-spaced, relatively quiet table for a special celebration if possible, such as one of your two tops by the window as you enter.." (or whatever matches the place and circumstances in question)

                                  In that regard, it is important to note that not everyone has the same idea as to what is a bad table. So speak up and use the comment section to ask for what you want next time you make a reservation.

                                  1. just to be clear--if a restaurant is an open table subscriber then that restaurant uses open table for all of its reservations, whether made online, in person, or on the phone. All of its reservations are open table reservations.

                                    your concern is with online reservations; however, though there is a note in reservation that it has been made online, that information is not prevalent. So to a host who is planning the evening or seating you, your reservation made online through open table looks pretty much like the other reservations made in person or through phone calls.

                                    In order for a host to give online reservations less desirable tables, he or she would have to systematically check all of the reservations to see which had been made online and plan accordingly. What would be the benefit to the host or the restaurant?

                                    So those who feel like they are getting better or worse tables by booking online have either lucked into those situations are are imagining it. (well, unless there is some clandestine host organization who has decided to punish or reward online users for purposes I can't imagine, but that seems unlikely.)

                                    1. Agree with above posters who have never had a problem, and I use Opentable very frequently VIP or before I have gotten that in the year (it takes 12 reservations so I don't normally get it till Spring) I sometimes get spectacular tables (Hook in DC right in front of the open kitchen with no note) and sometimes mediocre ones, if they take me to a bad table I normally ask if another one is available and if not I suck it up.

                                      1. I've never had this experience with using OT.

                                        1. I have made several hundred restaurant reservations on Open Table (we eat out ~4x/week) and have never felt that we were not treated at least as good as everyone else. Indeed, I sometimes think we are treated better (the restaurants can tell how often we eat out, how many times we've been there previously, and have some protection against our double-booking which is not possible on OT). We love OT mainly for the convenience of being able to make a reservation at any hour of the day or night, but the rebate checks are a very nice bonus.

                                          1. I'm sure it's just a coincidence but last OT reservation I made got me and my DH the worst 2 top in the place, and I made the reservation 3 weeks prior. I spoke up, we were moved and enjoyed our dinner.

                                            1. Can't say I've ever had an issue with OT or any other online reservation facility. Perhaps I'm just not fussy and don't realise I've been given a bad table.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Harters

                                                I am fussy, and do not hesitate to speak up if I don't like the table. I've never felt that I was treated less well when I've made a res on OT, and can't imagine any reason why a restaurant would do that. When I return to a restaurant that I know well, when reserving on OT I will often request a specific server, or a seating preference. I've always felt that the restaurant tries to honor these requests. From my perspective, OT rocks!

                                              2. Never has happened to us. I also make a note about where I'd like to be seated when we go to a place we know well, or for new places, where we would like NOT to be seated (near entrance, kitchen door...) and requests have been honored.

                                                1. I've never had that happen when using OT. And i've used it when in other areas besides where we live. Still never had an issue.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: MRS

                                                    Never had a problem....Use it all of the time.

                                                  2. Never had a problem either. If it's a place I go all the time, I remember the table # and request it.
                                                    Did OT for The French Laundry (while I was also furiously dialing at the same time) and had a perfect spot.

                                                    1. On a slight sidenote, anyone have the restaurant totally forget that “hey, it’s my birthday!!!” note made on Open Table?

                                                      I have.

                                                      Just two days ago. No biggie though. Did see a guy walk around with a cake with a lit candle about the time we were chowing down on dessert. We wondered if it was meant for me. Shortly before this a table of 4 next to us said FU! to the manager-type guy and huffed off. Maybe we weren’t at that good of a table. No, it was just a regular table for two.


                                                      Tables have been fine generally. Don’t remember getting the worst one via Open Table.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                        I've never had ANY notes on OT observed by the restaurant in any way, be it birthdays, anniversaries, or please don't sit us under the AC vent.

                                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                                          My experiences have been the absolute opposite of yours. In my cases, the restaurant has read every word. Not sure why they ignore your comments, and requests.


                                                      2. I must not be refined enough to tell the difference between a good table and a bad one.

                                                        8 Replies
                                                        1. re: medium_rare

                                                          I think it's a question of what you like. Maybe there's some prestige thing in certain trendy restaurants, but to me, a good table is one that is quiet when I want quiet, not under an a/c vent or the speakers, not near the door in the winter, and near the kitchen when it's an open kitchen and I want to see inside. Others may have different preferences.

                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                            The last two times that I used Open Table to make a reservation, I got "bad" tables. One was a reservation for two at an Italian restaurant during the winter. We were seated at a small round table, about 2.5 feet in diameter, across from the bar, with our backs to a railing, next to stairs going down to the rest of the seating. I didn't see any other table this size, we had bar patrons backing into us, it was awkward and crowded with winter coats.

                                                            The second time was for four people, but at least it was in the summer. We were seated at a rectangular table, again ajacent to the bar, at which we barely fit. There were other tables this size in the restaurant and they seated parties of two at them. There were also much larger tables and booths, at which other parties of four were seated. Was with my elderly mother so didn't want to squawk and ask for a different table. Again, the main problem was interacting with bar patrons and being cramped.

                                                            So, now I use Open Table to look for what places have tables available, then call the ones I'm interested in to get a reservation with a human being.

                                                            1. re: 512window

                                                              Was the restaurant full? If not, I don't see how it's "squawking" to politely inquiring about being moved....

                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                The first restaurant was completely full. The second was pretty full. Since I had my mother with me, I didn't want to do anything that she would consider "making a scene." So, we just put up with it.

                                                                Maybe it's just coincidence, but when it keeps happening, you draw your own conclusions.

                                                              2. re: 512window

                                                                As I've said before, OT is a wonderful service. It simply allows patrons access to the same computer reservation system that is used be the restaurant's reservationists. I have used it hundreds of times without ever thinking that I was treated differently than any other guest. There is no earthly reason why any sane restauranteur would discriminate against persons using OT...they are likely persons who dine out a great deal, and potentially among their best customers. Anyone who has had a poor experience with OT should hold the restaurant responsible...not OT!

                                                            2. re: medium_rare

                                                              I must not be refined enough, either...i guess getting a table that is way too small would be frustrating, but wow, i continue to be amazed at how picky some people are. And it is true that different people like different tables, so unless you make some specific request, how do they know if you are going to think it is the "worst table in the restaurant."

                                                              1. re: iluvtennis

                                                                I'm with you. I'm also curious who *should* get these terrible tables?

                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                  I would say that they should go to the "mean people," and not to any of us!


                                                            3. Nope, not in my experience. I just used it last week and got one of the best tables in the hous eon a Friday evening.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                I think that this thread is done. Those of us who use OT regularly (many, many uses...me alone at least several hundred reservations) have never seen any sort of discrimination against us. If anyone has experienced this, it is unusual and represents stupidity on the part of the restaurant. Many, if not most, users of OT are reasonably sophisticated diners who dine out regularly, and if a restaurant is silly enough to not take good care of OT users, they're not a place worthy of our business. Certainly it would appear from the many posts on this thread that OT is a useful service that most of us like using, and do not feel discriminated against when using it.

                                                              2. I've never had a problem. Maybe it depends on the region where you live?

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                  Or just a particular restaurant or two?

                                                                2. I have never had anything but a great table, through OT.

                                                                  I dine out weekly, or even more often, and usually choose OT, for the US, and Europe.

                                                                  I always have a great table, and this runs the gamut of top restaurants on down.

                                                                  All special requests have been honored, and also acknowledged.

                                                                  I have never had one bad incident with OT, and that goes way, way back.


                                                                  1. I've worked with the OT system for years. If you book through OT and receive a shitty table, it's the mark of a douchey restaurant or an outright coincidence.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                      You are absolutely correct. Many of us who use OT extensively have already reported our very positive experience with OT. If a restaurant chooses to give a guest a crappy table, it's the restaurant, not OT. This thread is now a dead horse!

                                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                        Yes, if the restaurant has an issue with an OT patron, that is their problem.

                                                                        Maybe the "level" of my restaurant choices, has had something to do with the treatment, that I receive, but it has always been great, so would assume that those DO enjoy OT patrons.

                                                                        To date, the closest that I can come to a complaint about OT, is when they have only been given X tables and Y times, and I need to call the restaurant. Still, that is NOT an OT issue, but a conscious choice by that restaurant. I understand why they do it, and have no issues with their doing so. It's the same for my AMEX Concierge service. They can often get me a table, where my call yields none. I have seen that with major hotel concierge services too. Amazing what a bit of "clout" from a major resort can do, vs "Joe Bloe" calling from Phoenix, AZ.

                                                                        No, not an OT issue.


                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          AMEX Concierge Service is another ball of wax. It's sometimes amazing what they can do when all else fails.

                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                            On several occasions, they have amazed me (and my wife, who has suddenly become a major fan, after 30 years!), but they have failed on a few instances. When that happens, I go to other sources, and start making either calls, or sending e-mails, pulling in favors.

                                                                            On one trip, I was batting zero. We arrived, and talked to the resort's concierge. She made one call, and we were in to a table, that no one else had been able to secure.

                                                                            The lesson to me is, do not give up - keep trying, and maybe good things will happen.


                                                                      2. I have often got the best table in the house, though I use open table in much smaller markets, like the Outer Banks (the Left Bank is fabulous by the way!) and Gervasi Vineyards in Canton, OH.

                                                                        1. I disagree. Usually get a good table. If I do not like, I do not accept and get a better one.

                                                                          1. I usually don't have any problems with Open Table rezzy's. The only problem we have had was a couple of years ago. It was New Years Eve, but we (my wife and I) booked well in advance and for an early reservation (5pm) as we had to be somewhere by 7:30.

                                                                            We walked in to a totally empty restaurant and were seated in the corner right against the front windows of the restaurant. Being the middle of winter in Calgary, it was a pretty cold evening (probably about -25 celsius or so). It was quite cold at our table so we asked if it was possible to move to another table that was a bit warmer. Our server said that was not possible as the restaurant was fully booked that evening. We tried to explain the we would be gone by 7 at the latest to no avail. So we struggled through dinner (with coats on) in a completely empty restaurant. Another 2 top came in just we were finishing up and getting ready to pay.

                                                                            I don't think it was an Open Table issue as much as poor judgement by the server/management. We haven't been back since.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: djdragan

                                                                              Oh, I have gotten that table - well not exactly, but you get the point. Empty restaurant, request for a "romantic table," and though all were empty, they were not available to me. However, and in the spirit of this thread, that/those reservation(s) was/were NOT through OT, but by calling the restaurant, in one instance, and through AMEX Platinum Concierge in the other. In both instances, I was refused an open, much better table, being told that they were all reserved. Even after 30 mins., when no one had come for them, they were listed as being reserved, just in case someone important came in for them.

                                                                              With OT, I have never, never had such BS - I have gotten the requested table, or a great one, with no equivocation, what so ever.

                                                                              In both of those other restaurants, it was about 10 years, before I would even consider going back, due to the treatment. In both cases, I was actually staying at the respective resorts, and in one case had used AMEX Platinum Concierge. In the case of the other, I was at their very highest level of frequent stayer. Nothing like that with OT.