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Jul 26, 2008 10:00 PM

Do you get crummy table if using Opentable?

We have found that if I make a reservation on Opentable, we automatically are given the worst table in the house. This has happened so often that I think it is not just bad luck. If you make the reservation by phone, the tables are always good. Does this happen to anyone else? Do restaurants pay to be listed on Opentable? Curious.

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  1. Where I work, we try to save the better tables for reservations, whether they are booked online or by phone. It is difficult, however, to save the best tables for the 8pm bookings. Generally the first seatings get the best tables (it is tough to say no to the "can't we sit there --> ?" requests at 6:00pm when the restaurant is empty).
    We particularly like Open Table bookings because we know that people don't always go to Open Table specifically wanting to go to My Restaurant. Sometimes they just need a table for X people on Xday at Xtime, and My Restaurant happens to be available, so we want to show them an "xtra" great time.
    Similarly, we like to show appreciation for those who have booked at our restaurant ahead of time. Walk-ins are great, bookings are great, everyone who wants to eat at the restaurant is great! Most restaurants don't have the luxury of having every table a "great" table, so some guests have to deal with lesser tables.
    Keep in mind, some people's favorite tables are other people's least favorite tables, and it's impossible to predict who is going to love the table by the bar and hate the quiet table, or who is going to complain about the table by the bar and request the quiet table. Your "crummy" table might be another guest's idea of perfection.

    1 Reply
    1. re: picklesister

      In many years of using Opentable, we have never experienced this. We always get a great table, or will request it, should our table not be the best available. Usually, we are seated at a prime table. In the few instances, where we were not, a simple request has taken care of it. Wife is short, and sometimes a booth is not really good for her. If we're shown to one, we usually request a 2-top, but also point out our propenisty for doing many wines, and are most often seated at a 4-top.

      I'd guess that it is up to the restaurant to decide, but have been 90% pleased, and never denied a change. Go figure.


    2. I' ve used Opentable for the following places recently and not one bad table:

      Greenwich Grill
      Perry St

      1. yeah and sorry to be ticky - but maybe just call and talk to someone. people are generally nice. gentle dialogue will often get you somewhere. (I know weird huh?)

        ok airlines and certain telecoms excepted.

        1. We make no distinction between OT bookings, regular web bookings and call in reservations. I do find that those who call in are more likely to leave the correct phone number and show on time than OT bookers so perhaps its fall out from bad experiences that are finding you seated by the kitchen. We also get a lot of demands from OT bookers for "only the best table," "only a quiet table" etc that often can't be provided to the satisfaction of the booking guest.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Le Den

            This is one of the inherent problems with opentable. Because the guest is completely removed from the restaurant when making a reservation, guests come in thinking that their requests on the reservation are automatically golden. Yes, we saw that you "Would like the best table in the house, with a view, a booth, and a view of the chef." (these usually have the notation "First time diner.") Invariably, it is one of at least 15 reservations with the exact same (or similar) request. When the restaurant isn't able to accommodate that, and never could to begin with, we get threads on CH, or reviews on yelp, talking about how the restaurant "didn't even TRY to accommodate our *simple* request.

            My advice? If you feel so strongly about a request for seating/views/etc, call. Why on earth would you gamble something so important to you, on indirect communication? Or, you could always slide a $20 to the hostess ;)

            1. re: plaidbowtie

              Great points, and the suggestion to call is a very good one.

              In my CH history, I have had few specific requests. It's usually about the "chef's tasting menu," and my wife's bi-valve allergy. Even then, I will follow up, and make my request known.

              Now, and as a table example, there is one San Francisco restaurant, that we dine at often. As we usually go with the "sommelier's pairings," we have a lot of wine glasses, even for a party of two. I had asked about the # of a particular table, and requested it on the very next trip. It was ready for us, BUT I had been off by one table #. My bad, but with OT, the restaurant had furnished me with the exact table that I had requested. In the end, it worked out fine, and I learned a lesson - be careful what you ask for... [Grin]

              With most restaurant bookings, and especially with hotel bookings, I follow up with a call, and often a few FAX'es. I like for things to be in line, prior to my visits.

              Good points, and well worth remembering.


          2. If a restaurant is listed on OpenTable, that means they use OpenTable to do *all* of their reservations. If you call in your reservation, the person at the host desk punches in the reservation on a dedicated OpenTable computer. On the computer, the only difference between a phone reservation and a web reservation is a little note that the reservation was made online. If you frequent a restaurant that uses OpenTable, the best thing to do is to put a comment on your reservation saying specifically where in the restaurant you want to sit; i.e. "We like to sit at the booths along the north wall away from the restroom". It's much easier for the hosts to fulfill table requests before the shift starts! Better still, if you get a table you absolutely love, ask the host to put a note in the computer that you want that table every time.