HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Open Table is a joke [split from Boston board]

(Note: This post was split from the Boston board at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/566858 -- The Chowhound Team).

Open Table is a joke. If you make a reservation for a high-endresto there, they treat you like clueless bridge and tunnel people.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. This post is not about Open Table but I can't help but respond. I have made reservations on OT at L'Espalier, Sorellina, Excelsior and The White Barn Inn just to name a few. Any restaurant treating someone differently for how their reservations were made should not be considered "high end" as they obviously don't get the concept of the hospitality business. All of the restaurants I have mentioned and many others have been most gracious.

    1. I've used OpenTable for many years - for reservations ranging from bistros and simple, little barbecue joints, to some of the finest, big-ticket restaurants in NYC, like Daniel, Atelier de Joel Robuchon, La Grenouille, Per Se and Le Bernardin. Honestly have never had a single issue arise resulting from OpenTable reservations.

      There must have been some other reason that you felt you were mistreated. What exactly happened?

      1. My experience with open table is that when I would try to reserve, the restaurant would be booked at the desired time slot but if I just popped my head in the restaurant, that slot would be open, so I stopped using it.

        1. It's just you. I should know, I work at a restaurant that uses OpenTable. OpenTable is the entire reservation system for the restaurant. If you call to place a reservation, the person at the restaurant puts in the reservation through a screen with much the same format as the one that you use online. The only difference is that the person taking the res on the phone can look up empty slots in the book and set a reservation for a time that the computer thinks is full. On the reservation list, the only difference between a reservation made online and one made manually is a note in the reservation comments mentioning you made the reservation online.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester


            Thanks for the info. I've never had quite the same situation. I usually go with OpenTable first, because I'm usually scheduling a dozen restaurants for a particular trip and it's easy, plus I get the confirmation to add to my itinerary. These are usually made a few months out, but sometimes we'll be working a bit closer to the date. If there is no reservation available, and I, or my wife, or our guests, really want to dine there, I'll call. I have always been told the same thing - no reservations available. In a few instances, I've then called on of my concierge services, just in case. Always the same thing - no reservations available. If these fail, I'll call any influential friends in that area. Always the same - no reservations available.

            Once, I did get some help from the concierge at our resort. She actually pulled some strings and got us into that spot, when all other avenues failed.

            I've even had famous chefs come up as short as I have. That indicates that OpenTable is fairly accurate.

            Now, I do wish that entering their site did not entail going through those danged welcome screens about a change in the interface, that happened years ago. Also, the Next buttons change positions between screen 1, 2 and 3. That could be simplified!


          2. I've used OpenTable for several years now in at least 5 different cities and 3 countries totaling something like a couple of hundred tables. I've never had an issue with a lost reservation and though not every table was the best in the house and not every meal was excellent I've never had any problems that appeared to have anything at all to do with OpenTable. My experiences through OpenTable don't seem to be any different than my experiences when I contact a restaurant directly and make a reservation.

            1. Open Table got me same day last minute reservations that I wanted, at a restaurant that told me they were booked for reservations and there was already a 3 hour walk-in wait.

              1 Reply
              1. re: TarheelYankee

                When someone cancels a reservation online, the spot opens back up. So Open Table can be great for getting a last minute reservation, even if the person answering the phone told you no earlier in the day.

              2. I also have used open table extensively and have never had a problem.

                1. Agree w/the others who haven't experienced trouble w/Opentable. Have been using it for years and have never felt singled out for worse treatment than other guests.

                  1. Never had any trouble using OT.

                    Mostly I'm wondering why someone was using the term "bridge and tunnel" on the Boston board. So...you mean people from Eastie?

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      Yeah, as opposed to the urban sophisticates from Southie.

                      According to my restaurant-owner buddy, the Open Table software doesn't distinguish between reservations made online and those made by telephone and entered into the computer by the reservationist. Neither the host nor the server knows that you made your reservation online. So it must be something other than that that's causing you to be treated the way you are. Any other ideas? (Insert poignant pause and arched eyebrow here.)

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        Actually, the host does know that you made the reservation online. There are different reservation and guest codes (such as if someone's celebrating a birthday, is vegetarian et cetera), and one of them is Web Reservation. The system also prints out a chit that can be handed off to a manager or server.

                        The big thing is that the restaurant gains NOTHING by treating you differently whether you made your reservation in person or online. A good number of reservations made online are people who wouldn't have come into the restaurant, but while browsing OpenTable saw our name and thought it sounded like fun to come to our place. If we give them the dregs of the restaurant, they aren't going to come back.

                        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester


                          Thanks again. I assumed that more data was provided to the host/hostess, based on the greetings that we always receive. Le Paradou knew that I had dined with them 6 times, but that my wife had only been able to accommpany me on the last 3 trips. Nice touch! (Glad that I had not dined with another lady on any of the other occasions.) [Grin]

                          Similar for some others. If we've been there before, they know. If I have mentioned their wine list, they know.

                          Appreciate your insights,


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            The details you're referring to--who dines with you and what your food and drink preferences are--are maintained by the restaurant. So either Le Paradou has a policy to keep details on certain guests or all guests, or you've been lucky with proactive waiters, sommeliers, etc.

                            Obviously, it's a good practice to keep notes on repeat customers, but not everyone chooses or bothers to do it.

                            Open table keeps records of: how many ressies you've made, how many you've kept, and how many you've no-showed. If they assign tables nightly, it will keep track of which waiter served you, but when waiters leave the restaurant they're usually taken out of the system.

                            1. re: nc213

                              As far as I can tell, even when someone is deleted from the waiter list, it maintains that person's name in the history.

                              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                JK--I haven't used the system in some time, so I guess that changed since I last worked FOH. It makes sense to keep the history even if the waiter has left.

                          2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                            I guess by "not distinguishing between reservations" he meant that they all just go into the same system. We didn't get specific about reservation and guest codes. Thanks for the clarification.

                      2. We used to use OpenTable and then had one similar experience at a high-end steakhouse in Boston (Grill 23). We've been there many times (always requesting an upstairs room where it's quieter), but this was the first time we used OpenTable to make the reservation. When we asked why they sat us downstairs, the host specifically mentioned it was because we made the request through OpenTable. It was a couple of years ago, but E refuses to use them again...

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Rubee

                          Interesting. Every restauranteur, with whom I have spoken on OpenTable, has loved it, and has been greatly appreciative of the extra info that people will give on-line, as opposed to over the phone.

                          I do not know Grill 23, but would speculate that their staff was not using the full potential of this software.

                          OTOH, I've had some pretty sorry experiences with the FOH (Front of House) personnel (though never with an OpenTable reservation), so maybe it was just THEIR attitude, that you encountered. Too many restauranteurs discount the importance of the FOH staff, and assume that if the lady looks "fetching" in her black sheath dress, or the guy looks "great" in his tux, all is fine. Nah, they are usually the first face2face impression, that a diner has.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            Yes, it definitely could have been the FOH as I had used OpenTable with no problems before this time. Unfortunately, once was enough for my husband, especially as this was an expensive celebratory dinner with clients at one of Boston's best steakhouses. I've used OT a couple of times since then, but he now prefers to always call the restaurant and speak to someone directly.

                            1. re: Rubee

                              That is a loss for that particular restaurant. For you, I am sorry. I do not find that sort of behavior to be typical of OpenTable, from my personal experience.

                              However, I have encountered many bad choices for FOH personnel, though just not with regards to OpenTable. In Phoenix, we've ruled out several restaurants, because of situations, as you mention. One is highly touted on the CH SW board. We've been there three times with the same results at the FOH. Last time was a special event, hosted by the CEO of a major international corporation during a major event in the Valley. We were guests of this hostess, and were treated as though we were interlopers in this restaurant. Same as when we dined there on two previous occasions. As if the earlier experiences did not drive home a point, this last one certainly did. My review of this spot told the story. Besides, the food is poor, and the normal service is nothing special.

                              I'd try OT again, and chalk the previous experience up to youngsters in black sheath dresses, who worked at Best Buy the day before. I cannot believe that I have just had good luck. If there were problems, I'd be the first one to have them.


                              1. re: Rubee

                                It might be that if you book online you get slotted into an available table and your request for upstairs may not have been noticed until it was too late, while if you book over the phone you'd get assigned to your desired table at the time the reservation is made.

                            2. re: Rubee

                              Thanks, Rubee! It was funny, when TC was trying to lift my spirits about the whole thing, he said, "You should have told them we're friends of Rubee and E!"

                            3. I just use Open Table for 3 different restaurants for my visit to CA. I didn't have a bad table, bad service, or a bad meal thanks to the wonderful advice of the 'hounds on the San Francisco boards. I also use OT every NYC Restaurant Week. I've never had a problem. I've also made reservations with OT, called the restaurant to change our reservation time (up to 2 hours), and still received OT points. Perhaps it was the restaurant and not Open Table?

                              1. Isn't that a function of the particular restaurant, not Open Table?

                                1. Oh, but I disagree and completely. I use OpenTable all of the time for dining in the US all fo the time. I have NEVER had anything but a cordial welcome. When I have added comments about our reservation, the staff has had those ready. Now, I'm talking what would be Michelin 1 - 2 starred establishments, plus some "wanna-bes." All have treated us like family, or regulars, with no sign of an attitude.

                                  Now, the Michelin 3-star (type) places are not with OpenTable in most cases.

                                  In talking with many restauranteurs, it seems that they really like dealing with reservations via OpenTable. They do read the comments and pay close attention to them. If I say that my wife cannot do bi-valves, but that we want the chef's tasting menu, there are always substitutions, just for her. If I mention that I saw their wine list on-line, and am looking forward to working with their sommelier, guess who's the first person to greet us at our table, often before the water and bread arrive?

                                  Galleygirl, I am not arguing with your observations. On the contrary. I am citing MY experiences with the service, as it has pertained to our dining, which is usually high-end +. Even in Boston (not a city that we travel to THAT often) we've been treated royally. Obviously you have not, and that is a shame. I'd also say that it *probably* an attitude of a particular restaurant, or restaurants, and should not indicate a universal attitude.

                                  As I'm not really interested in their "points," I don't make a big thing of having used them. Still, when the host knows that this is our 4th visit and that we have a play to catch, I know that they read and use the info.

                                  Only complaints that I have are:

                                  Not all restaurants use this service. (Do not know if they are charged, but it's likely.)

                                  The "Comments" field could be expanded by a few more characters to get all useful infor to the restaurant.

                                  Do you care to cite the particular restaurant(s), that treated you poorly? I'd say that that treatment was endemic to that/those restaurant(s), than to OpenTable.

                                  Only Boston restaurant that I can recall using OpenTable was Excelsior. When we, and our six guests, arrived, the wine list was already on our table and the sommelier was not far behind. BTW, excellent meal and our guests still talk about the food, the service and the elevator ride. One wants me to add one of those to MY wine cellar. Not exactly a 3-star, but a very nice restaurant, none the less.


                                  1. I don't know about it's being a "joke", but it's a luxury I couldn't afford as a restaurateur. 5 years ago, I think it cost $2500.00 a month, plus a percentage of how many rezzies were booked thru their site. We had our own version of open table; our message said that we'd return calls for rezzies every hour (in Person) to confirm from 11:00 AM til' we arrived at the restaurant (usually 3:30 ish) We checked our voice-mail religiously, and almost never lost a rez. due to the delay. Occasionally, I'd call someone back literally 5 minutes after they'd left a message and they'd be all "Oh, we already booked somewhere else...." Oh, well, your loss dude. I'd rather phone than e-mail, but maybe it's just a generation thing. (I'm 46....) Adam

                                    1. galleygirl, while we've never met, I read your posts on the Boston board with interest, as you and the Commodore always seem to dine out well. This brief, drive-by post about Open Table seems to be out of the norm for you, especially without any explanation as to why you felt you were treated poorly.

                                      I've used OT several times - for both myself and friends, and coworkers who are dining in other cities and don't have the time to make reservations - I've gone online for my boss and made reservations at those restaurants he's interested in while traveling, and he's never complained that he was treated poorly at any restaurant around the country.

                                      Curious as to which Boston restaurant treated you poorly, and why you think it was because you booked your rez on OT?

                                      1. First of all, the "25 word diatribe" was taken, out of context, from another thread on the Boston board, about Coach Grille, and metrowest dining,and used to start this thread.
                                        Too bad the moderators didn't mention that, but I'm glad so many board regulars have had so much fun at my expense.
                                        And yes, I happen to have an instance where my companion and I almost had an evening ruined becasue of OT.

                                        It was at one of the Boston Board's darlings, Prezza, and I hadn't bothered with the whole story because I usually don't bother with expending negative energy, and posting one of those "Dissapointment at _______" posts. But since everyone here is so gleefully piling on to an episode they know nothing about, I guess I'll have to elaborate.

                                        I used OT to make a reservation for a VERY significant birthday of mine last November; so significant I made it a month ahead of time. We made it fairly early, 7:00 on a Friday night. We walked it to a resto that was about 1/3 full. We went to the hostess desk, where a fairly unprofessional looking hostess found our reservation, and seated us in the worst table in the place, IMHO, right behind the hostess desk, in the path of the entrance, ttraffic of everyone walking in, and a cool breeze. I conferred with TC, who is usually never bothered by ANYTHING like that, and even he agreed, it was a pretty shitty table. I asked if we could be moved, because the resto was so empty, and as the only people in the front part of the house, I was sure there were more seats.
                                        "No, sorry".
                                        "There's a lot of good tables here."
                                        "Yeah, they're reserved".
                                        "Well, we made our reservation a month ago.How far in advance do you have to reserve to get a decent table?"
                                        "Oh well, you have to know which table to ask for".
                                        "So let me get this straight. I make a reservation for a dinner out a month in advance, and I get the crummiest table in the place becasue it's the first time I've been here, and I didn't know which table to ask for?"
                                        "Are your telling me all the tables are reserved?"
                                        "No, but we keep a bunch back in case any of our regulars come in".
                                        "Well, we're here now, and we'd like to speak to someone who can move us, if you don't mind".
                                        Another front end person comes by. They confer, I hear "OT" mentioned, and they may have a table. But so and so will be miffed if someone's in his section.
                                        At this point, I've had it.
                                        "I don't care which of your wait staff is annoyed. I'm here for a major birthday, and I don't appreciate being seated based on someone's temperament. This is NOT okay, my evening is being ruined, and I'd like to speak to someone who CAN move us..."

                                        Before all you "restaurant professionals" get all bent out of shape about my "attitude", or anything else that was my fault, let me make it clear I was polite, and the entire episode took much longer that this abbriviated version.

                                        I was in tears. Someone in a chef's jacket, who seemed to have more authority, finally came out, I unloaded the whole story, and we were moved to a much better table.

                                        The food was great, but I already had heartburn. TC and I don't have as big a dining out budget as some of you more worldly hounds, who've been so critical here, so apps, entrees, dessert and drinks at Prezza is a once a year thing. Oh, and BTW, they charged us for two extra glasses of wine, by mistake....

                                        Bridge and tunnel crowd? Yeah, that's a terminiology for it, even in Boston, sorry, all you parsers of the speech of others. What I meant is not being part of the Boston dining scene, and coming in from the suburbs, and treated differently. (BTW, I looked FABULOUS that night, and so did TC...)

                                        Not a one shot deal, tho. I have taken TC to the Coach Grille a number of times for his celebrations; it's his favorite place. I love it too. We always get a great table, and have a wonderful time, even if I made the reservations that day, as I often have.

                                        We decided to take my Mom there. I was busy, so I made the reservation on OT. I specifically noted that Mom was hard of hearing, and we'd like a quiet table. Guess where ours was? Right in the middle of the lounge!
                                        When I asked, I was once again told I should have specified WHICH table I wanted.

                                        And that's why I'm done with OT. I think it's great that you've all had such wonderful luck. Continue to pile on and defend them, and BTW, I'm sure you'll have a good time picking this post apart, too.

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: galleygirl

                                          First, I'm sorry you had such a miserable experience on a special occasion. I think that all I was trying to convey, is that it's more likely to be the fault of a particular restaurant, than Open Table itself, which has no control over where the restaurant chooses to seat a party who makes a reservation through its system.

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            I'm very sorry you had two very horrible experiences as well, but I have to agree with MMRuth, in that it seems to be an issue with these two particular restaurants. If they *are* treating OT reservations as "we're going to treat them crappily" (is that a word?) because there's some notation that someone made an online reservation, that is an issue with the owner/manager.

                                            As you've been to the Coach Grille several times, they very well might know you as semi-regulars. It certainly sounds like you could bring it up with a manager asking why you were treated so differently after making a reservation via OT vs. calling directly into the restaurant.

                                            Considering that you had asked for a "quiet table" - how more specific do they want you to get? Do they want "I request Table 9, halfway down on the left-hand side with no one seated near us" specific? I think asking for a quiet table is enough of description that the hostess's answer was downright rude, unfortunately and considering you've gone there several times, should still be brought up with the manager. However, I'm not sure if you're the type to bring it up far after the problem occurred.

                                            Again - sorry you had disappointing experiences, especially on your special birthday.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              It could well be that it was the FOH staff of both restaurants, but I still don't want to risk it again...In fact, after the second time, TC said, "Why did you reserve on OT again, anyway?"

                                              I WISH we were recognized as regulars, alas, we certainly don't go frequently enough for that...But I did bring it up at the time, immediately, with a hostess that I had seen several times before, so I assumed she had some authority...I definitely speak up when things happen, rather than complaining after the fact, so I did do my best...What they seemed to be saying, in both places, was if you didn't ask for Table 9, you were somehow to blame...
                                              BTW, this whole thread started because I mentioned, in a thread discussing experiences at Coach Grille, pro and con, that I had had a great experience there when calling for reservations, but less than stellar, which some other posters echoed, when I had booked on Open Table. That's when the "OT is a joke" quote that got taken out of context was first uttered....

                                              1. re: galleygirl

                                                "What they seemed to be saying, in both places, was if you didn't ask for Table 9, you were somehow to blame..."

                                                And that would irritate the piss out of me as well. :-) Ummm, it's my fault because I didn't specify to the exact table...HOW? Totally understandable that TC asked about reserving on OT and you've chosen not to use it again.

                                                With places like CH and other sites (like Yelp), where people discuss online the service/food/atmosphere, etc. of places they dine at, you'd think that they'd want to treat you well no matter where your reservation was made. It doesn't take long for a place to get a reputation for crappy service with blogs and websites to talk about them. Just seems counterintuitive on their part.

                                                It would be interesting to see how the same party of 2 or 4 would be treated with two separate reservations - one done online, and the other done via phone, just a few days apart.

                                          2. re: galleygirl

                                            Those sound like really awful experiences. That sucks that you had to deal with those.

                                            1. re: galleygirl

                                              Oh GG - I'm so sorry to hear about that. I can totally understand, and the worst part being it was a celebratory dinner you had been looking forward to. Happy Birthday by the way. I just told E, and he feels just as bad abour your experience.

                                              I was actually a bit surprised at how annoyed and defensive about OpenTable some of these responses were, though I think the mods did you a disservice by taking a two-sentence statement out of another discussion and moving it here out of context.

                                              Anyways, I'm also disappointed that you had two such experiences, and that one of them was at one of our favorite restaurants where we're regulars. I have to add that that's the basic explanation we understood at Grill 23, another popular Boston restaurant where they also keep tables open for regulars - that if we had called as we usually did, our request would have come before impersonal OT reservations.

                                              Anyways, as I mentioned, E refuses to use OT now. It doesn't matter if we had a million great experiences, once was enough for him. He now makes all our reservations, so fine with me. I've used OT since then for a casual dinner or lunch with a girlfriend, but not for special occasions. I also am absolutely positive that there are other restaurants that do the same - OT requests are accomodated as best they can, but personal requests come first.

                                              Either way, it's great that nobody has had a problem, but we had a bad experience, so I commiserate with yours.

                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                Do you think the problem was with Open Table, though, or the restaurant itself?

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  Obviously the restaurant can decide the priority to place OT requests, but I think it's one of the negatives inherent with OpenTable or any other internet reservation service - it's a modern convenience, of course, but not the same as personal communication. We didn't stop going to Grill 23 because of the OT problem, we just call directly now.

                                                  It's also interesting that two of these experiences were at highly-regarded, high-end restaurants in Boston that are always full. I'm sure there are other restaurants in this category that do the same regarding OpenTable. I get it - it doesn't make me dislike the restaurant for it.

                                                  Either way, I'm not trying to convince anyone not to use OpenTable. I think it can be a great system - as I mentioned, we used it a lot before I made the mistake of booking my husband's clients dinner through it. I was just posting a personal experience. The OP mentions that they actually gave OT another try after one bad experience. Our situation was glaring because it was the first time we had booked through OT, and the first (and only) time we didn't get our table request. In speaking to the host, they confirmed what we thought.

                                                2. re: Rubee


                                                  Step back for a moment. Take a look at the post that all of us read, at the headline and then the body of the text.

                                                  All of us were coming to the defense of a service that has provided well for us on many occasions.

                                                  Predicated on what we all read, we felt that OT was being bashed.

                                                  Thanks to the OP's candor, we now have much more detail and the finger of guilt points squarely at the FOH for that particular restaurant. This is a recrimination on OT, but on a restaurant.

                                                  There is something to be learned from this thread for all of us.


                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                    Hmmm.. "step back for a moment" and re-read this thread? Now I'm totally confused as to why my comments called for that. I simply added my experience and observations.

                                                    I can only assume that you're directing your comments to my sentence that I was surprised how defensive some of the comments were.

                                                    I thought that responses such as "it's just you" or "So it must be something other than that that's causing you to be treated the way you are. Any other ideas? (Insert poignant pause and arched eyebrow here)" were not "defending a service" but directed at the OP. Obviously I was not the only one. You might feel otherwise, which is fine.

                                                    I'll say it once again - it's great that everybody loves OT. I never said someone shouldn't use it or that it's a terrible service. I don't know the lesson you feel I should have learned. We simply choose to not use it.

                                                3. re: galleygirl

                                                  Sorry that the context was shifted. That does happen too often.

                                                  As for what you did experience, I'd attribute that to a really bad FOH operation. That happens all too often, and I do offer up the negative reviews, when they do - the good, the bad and the ugly.

                                                  Actually, I do not think that the respondents were "piling on," but coming to the defense of a service that has served them well. Unfortunately, your plight got swept into that maelstrom, whether your post was directed at OT, or not. I've had similar happen.

                                                  Over the last twenty years, I've had experiences, that were even worse than yours. Before CH, I posted some to other travel/dining sites. Before the days of the Internet, I wrote letters and sent them to various parties, because I was "ripped beyond belief." Trust me on this, I do feel your pain.

                                                  Over the decades, I have gone back to two of the worst offenders, at my lovely wife's urging. One became a favorite of ours in Honolulu, regardless of our first "welcome." The other will appear in a very favorable review, about to be posted on the New Orleans board. Others have gotten their "licks" on the various boards, to which I post. Several will never see me again, just because of the FOH. Most also got graded down on both the food and service, and one also on the wine service. This happens, and is what CH can do - recommend good restaurants and report bad ones to save another "hound" the problems.

                                                  To me, the real shame, far above your problems (and mine) is that too many restauranteurs do not realize that the FOH is usually the first impression that a patron will have. Telephone reservations often do come first, and they can also set the "mood." If I were in the business, it would not be about a "cute blonde, who looks good in a black sheath dress," but about professionals, who understand service and are empowered to make a patron's experience as wonderful as is possible.

                                                  Try to not take the OT outpouring personally. You were a victim of a topic move and less than perfect topic titling. Trust me again, you are not alone, and many of us have been in similar positions. These are not comfortable.

                                                  Thank you for taking the time to share your experience for all.


                                                  1. re: galleygirl

                                                    First of all Happy Birthday and it is unfortunate that it did not go as you had hoped.

                                                    And if you have not had good luck with OT then do not use. Many of us have had good success. You never know.

                                                    Jfood absolutely must defend against those who use the B&T comment since he has been a member of this wonderful group his whole life.

                                                  2. I dont use Open Table, but I dont think OT is a joke. I am not a big fan(screw ups, and bad tables when I used them a couple times back in the day).

                                                    I prefer calling the restaurant myself, works much better for me.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: swsidejim

                                                      Calling is often good. However, I find myself on GMT and need to make reservations for a few nights later in PDT. Often, it's going the other way.

                                                      I have never had anything but great results from OT, and often mention to restauranteurs that I'd have found it easier, if they were on OT.

                                                      I would be surprised if OT's role had anything to do with the problems. I would be more likely to attribute the treatment to that restaurant and to the owner and FOH.


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        I have booked tables by phone at the same place places I had the problemsissues booking with OT, and had no issues with the phone reservations. Small sampling, but it was enough for me to be done with OT.

                                                        1. re: swsidejim

                                                          You and I have had different experiences. I am glad that I have had mine, and not your's.


                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            This has NOTHING to do with OT. What it has to do with is crappy service. No more, no less. If restaurants want to blame their crappy service on OT or the Phases of the Moon or the Biorhythm's of their hostesses it makes no difference.

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              I agree with you. If OT was brought into it by the FOH, that was an excuse. They dropped the service ball, and in a big way.


                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              I dont loose any sleep over it.

                                                              I also prefer the human ineraction of booking a table over the phone. God knows I waste enough time on the internet as it is. ;-D

                                                      2. Galleygirl, I'm sorry that you had a terrible experience. I guess the mods really should have put your excerpt into context as I actually thought somebody hacked into your account and posted this as I've read former posts of yours and thought that this one was unlike you. Either that, or you were using Chowhound on a public computer, forgot to log out and somebody posted on your behalf.

                                                        However, I'd like to say that I've never had a bad experience via Open Table and once had a better experience because of Open Table. I guess we have "VIP" status as we've made and adhered to 12 reservations in the past year. At one restaurant, because of our VIP status, they gave us complimentary champagne (we actually had a choice of whatever champagne we wanted and chose Veuve Cliquot) and bottled water. There was "VIP" on our check. This is not in our hometown, and we've never been there before. So I'm surmising that it was because we booked through Open Table.

                                                        I will say that I've had reservations lost because I've booked through a human and not through Open Table. One, in particular, ticked me off a lot because this was not in our hometown and they were not able to accommodate us at all that night. I was really looking forward to dining there. As it was not in our hometown, it wasn't like we were able to go back there whenever we wanted. We ended up paying $20 to a concierge (not from our hotel) to get a last minute reservation at another restaurant. Because of that experience, I always want to book tables via Open Table and am peeved when the place doesn't use the system. Personally, my experience with Open Table has been really good and much better than calling. I just received a $50 dining check from them a couple of weeks ago as well. A few times, though, I have been able to get a table by calling when the Open Table slots were unavailable. That's when calling or stopping by came in handy.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                          I feel that I brought this all down on you by responding to your original post by a simple defense of my good experiences with Open Table. Who knew it would be moved to another board and I would bring all this down on your head? I always enjoy your posts and was surprised at your very strong reaction to OT. Having heard of your terrible birthday experience which you attribute to OT, I can better understand. I really do think if the restaurant staff has a bad attitude that it has nothing to do with OT. I haven't had any
                                                          negative experiences with OT reservations at the Coach Grille but other CH's have complained of an attitude problem there that I have fortunately never experienced. I was once seated in the noisy area and it is REALLY loud. Anyway, I am sorry that you have been so beaten up over this.

                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                            In order to foster discussion, we do frequently split sub-threads out into a new thread when they're off topic for where they are, rather than simply deleting them. We split and moved that particular post since it didn't seem specific to Boston or the restaurants under discussion in the original thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/566858 ). Since OpenTable is a national service, people across the country could contribute to the conversation on NAF.

                                                            Generally, we link back to the original thread in cases where it offers useful context for the new discussion, but in this case, there wasn't much context in the original thread -- there was only a mention that a given restaurant had started offering reservations through OpenTable. There wasn't any debate about the merits of OpenTable left on the Boston board, so rather than send people here on NAF back there to read posts that really wouldn't add any information to this conversation, we left it out.

                                                            Unfortunately, that created the impression that Galleygirl had started a whole new thread to complain about OpenTable, which gave her words more weight than she had intended them to have. We apologize for that, and we'll create the link back now for future readers.

                                                          2. I don't understand WHY a restaurant would treat you differently based on the your mode of reservation. I don't get it.

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: shaebones

                                                              As far as I can tell from the discussion, it's mostly because the people at the desk at such a restaurant are a bunch of arrogant, uptight ice queens.

                                                              1. re: shaebones

                                                                I think if they're smart, they don't. But if a person who shouldn't be FOH gets off on having a little power, or having a preconceived idea of people who use the service (thinking they may be from out of town, and therefore tourists or one shot deals, or that they may be someone who doesn't dine out much, and therefore can't be expected to generate a lot of return business, etc...), they may.
                                                                What it may show is that while OT provides certain information, certain FOH staff utilize it in ways that are not consistent.It may also be that since they are not dealing with a living, breathing human, who can talk back, at the initial point of contact, they feel that it's easier to slip them the bad table, or whatever.

                                                                1. re: galleygirl

                                                                  I think it would be a great study to do at several restaurants. Take two parties one using OT, one calling the restaurant directly, make a reservation for the same time, and see how each party is treated.

                                                                  1. re: MrsT

                                                                    I have done it for 2 different restaurants, and found I got a better table when calling in a reservation as opposed to booking through OT.

                                                                  2. re: galleygirl

                                                                    Now, I agree with about everything that you state here. If there is info, or an attitude, that affects the table, or the treatment, then I belive that it is the FOH being too full of themselves. As stated before, this is one of my biggest complaints, though I've never encountered this attitude with any OT reservation. Last time that it hit home, it was actually a special function hosted by a major international CEO during a PGA tournament in PHX. Most can fill in the blanks and figure out the event. This was an intimate dinner for some major clients at a higher-end restaurant not too far from the PGA venue. The FOH was the biggest bunch of problem children, that I have encountered in a very long time. There was a review on the SW board, that hit every aspect (primarily food oriented), but also for all aspects of service. This was re-enforcement to those folk, who sing the praises of this spot. I have never had a good meal, and the service has been "under the bottom," as opposed to "over the top."

                                                                    Someone mentions doing a control with OT and with telephone reservtions. If I can see the opportunity in the PHX area, I'll try that, and see if I can tell any differences.

                                                                    If there is anything to come of that, I'll post back to this thread, as well as initiate a new topic, as it would be something to be known by the CH community.

                                                                    Also, just because I have had 100% good experiences with OT, does not make it great. I use it about 50% of the time, but that is based on who is listed there, and for no other reason. If I do find a difference, I might have to rethink my normal mode of making reservations.


                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      trying to find the referenced review. Can you provide a link?

                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          oh my. And you, as we say here in Philly, ain't no chooch -- must one be royalty to be treated well at this establishment? There are too many fine places in this world to waste one's time on a place like this.

                                                                2. Don't blame Open Table!

                                                                  I work with Reservation Genie (www.reservationgenie.com), a concept similar to Open Table, but web-based and a lot more reasonably priced. The simple fact of the matter is that restaurants have a series of settings they use to control their traffic. And how the restaurants use those settings affects whether or not you can get a reservation online.

                                                                  We use a schedule inventory and the restaurant puts in a number of head count for any particular time slot. Reservations are made from their website, our website, our partner websites, a network of concierges, and the hostess can enter them in directly. As reservations are made the head count is subtracted from the inventory. If the inventory is used up for that time, then the time is no longer available. Restaurants are encouraged NOT to put every seat in the house online to hold capacity for walk-ins and to help spread traffic out so they can cater to their customers better. We DO give the restaurant the ability to over book the inventory on their end. So the point is: try to book it using an online reservation system first so that you get your points. If it’s not available AND the time is more important than earning your points, try calling them up to see if they can override the online reservations settings.

                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Rusky66

                                                                    Uh, Rusky, no one has said they had a problem getting a reservation with OT; some of us just didn't like the way we were treated when we had booked online.

                                                                    1. re: galleygirl

                                                                      Ohh, I was reading through the different reactions to the post and got the impression people were concerned with availability being different when you call than when you book online. When you call, the hostess enters the reservation directly into Open Table. So you shouldn't be treated any differently as by the time you show up...everybody looks the same. Open Table charges a small fee for online reservations from their site ($1 per person) and from client's sites (25 cents per person). Not enough to warrent any sort of prejudism by any means. So in short, you shouldn't be treated any differently unless maybe you flirted with the hostess AND she happens to be the one there when you walk in or she put some notes in the system that said you're superfantastic.

                                                                      1. re: Rusky66

                                                                        No, I do not believe that it was the ability to get a reservation, but the treatment, should one have used OT, or another on-line service.

                                                                        Thanks for your info above, as it is useful otherwise.

                                                                        Now, the $64,000 Question - have any of your users/subscribers complained about being treated poorly, when booking on-line? That is part of the gist of this thread.

                                                                        As for points, etc., that has never figured into my use of OT. It is about convenience and the conveyance of special needs, or desires. So far, it has worked for me (important distinction there) perfectly.

                                                                        The worst tables that I have ever gotten have been when booking through an upper-end bank card's "special" concierge service. Considering what I pay for that card each year, I feel ripped off, and hardly ever use their service.

                                                                        Thanks for adding some info, though it might not have been something to help the exact thread. I learned something useful later.


                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          I'm curious about the note taking restaurants use on certain patrons/regulars. Is that done internally on Open Table? And if so, can one restaurant see what another restaurant has put in about a customer? Meaning: "Difficult Customer" or "Generous Tipper" Things like that? Do restaurants share that kind of information? (Not that Galley Girl is a difficult customer. I'm sure she's not!)

                                                                          1. re: Slurpy


                                                                            I have no idea. JK has offered more true insight into working with OT, than I ever knew. Maybe he, or someone else can answer your question. I did not even realize that the restaurants directly used their software. I had never really questioned the "mechanics" of it all - sorry.


                                                                            1. re: Slurpy

                                                                              jfood asked this question a few months ago and someone answered that they can only keep records on their own customers and do not share them with others.

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                Thanks for weighing in. This was a question, to which I had no answer, and not even an idea.


                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  Likewise and jfood hopes someone can let him know about the patron sharing in OT. He wonders if this is covered under the privacy regs at the restaurant or at OT.

                                                                              2. re: Slurpy

                                                                                Any guest notes I put in at my restaurant are for our eyes only. The only thing that gets shared across restaurants is OpenTable VIP status.

                                                                                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                                                  Can you expand on that a little more? The VIP status? And actually, JK, I'm wondering too, if you put in a note on a customer that says, "Heavy tipper", "Major PIA" or what have you, how does that message get relayed to the server? Does the hostess pull the server aside to let them know?

                                                                                  1. re: Slurpy

                                                                                    You might want to read this (and several other) past threads about Open Table software. JK explains even more details here:


                                                                                    1. re: Slurpy

                                                                                      I explained what VIP status is in my post above. If you make and honor 12 reservations via Open Table in the past year, you have VIP status. Some restaurants will choose to give freebies to those with VIP status.

                                                                                      And from my knowledge, I believe these comments that restaurants put in are for the restaurants' eyes and its affiliated restaurants as well. So if you Jean-Georges makes a comment about you, Perry Street has access to those comments too (these are both owned by the same people).

                                                                                      I don't know if the server will pull the server aside, but I can see that happening to relay some message.

                                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                        My wife and I have used OT for years, and since we do make and honor more than 12 reservations per year, we are considered VIP. I will say that since we have moved to VIP status, the quaity of table we recieve when dining has improved vastly. I can't tell you the last time we were seated in a crummy table. I think ultimately what others are saying here is true, the OP had a problem with a restaurant, not with OT.

                                                                                        1. re: kimfair1

                                                                                          What are some other perks of becoming a VIP with Open Table? Are the perks just up to each individual restaurant or does Open Table give you certain advantages when you reach that status?

                                                                                          1. re: iluvtennis

                                                                                            I've been a VIP for 2 years and have never gotten any perks that I've noticed. Maybe it's a function of living in NYC, where I'm sure there are a lot of people going out to eat and therefore reaching VIP status.

                                                                                            1. re: iluvtennis

                                                                                              I don't know what Open Table gives you. From the restaurant standpoint, the person looking at the reservation sees a notation that says "Open Table VIP." I don't know how most places deal with it. The two places I worked that used Open Table never offered anything special to those guests, but clearly some places do.

                                                                          2. Interesting--the last time we ate at Prezza (I think in August), I booked through OT. We didn't have any of the same problems you cite--which doesn' t mean you weren't treated badly, but I'd place the blame squarely on the FOH staff you encountered.

                                                                            1. Based on my own vastly-different experience with OpenTable, I'd lay this one squarely on an idiot hostess at Prezza. It's a good example of how one person that hasn't been trained on the concept of hospitality can ruin your perception of a restaurant forever, have you telling a hundred friends about it and souring their perception, and then posting in detail about it on Chowhound where tens of thousands of people will read it.

                                                                              I see a fair amount of idiots on maitre'd stands around town, mostly attractive young women who clearly have little industry experience and seem to be compensating for their low pay and status with petty abuse of their authority. Getting that part of the dining experience wrong is lethal to a restaurant, at least in my book. I want my first impression as I walk in the door to be, "Wow, they seem to be glad I came here to give them my business." I don't want fawning, but I do expect cordiality. Every place I know and love at Prezza's price point understands this.

                                                                              Refusing to move a clearly-unhappy patron when there a bunches of great tables open, using the excuse that there might be a sudden rush of regulars who would be put out by not getting a great table as a walk-in? That's just asinine. That woman, or the person that hired her and failed to train her properly, should be taken behind the woodshed.

                                                                              I have to tell you, much as I like Prezza, this anecdote colors my perception of it a little bit (it's worth noting that I consider the source trustworthy). We were thinking about doing an upcoming celebratory dinner there with a few friends, but I'm going to tell them this story first, and I'm guessing we'll end up somewhere else instead.

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                Open Table charges so much money it is probably not possible to provide more bennies to the customers that actually drive the service. I used OT for a year, what was represented was not what was, my bad as they say, no longer letting OT tap my money stream and much happier. Like so many of these programs the finance all comes off the subscriber which means they are great for the consumer but believe me that money is in the bill somewhere and it isn't a negligable amount.

                                                                                1. re: SSGPILGRIM

                                                                                  Well, for me, a lowly diner, the beauty of OT is that I can sit at the laptop and get reservations a few mos. out for a half-dozen trips. Personally, I do not need any bennies, as the convenience is benefit enough. For a 3-week trip, it would take me many hours, with a spreadsheet in front of me, and maybe 50 telephone calls, to book what I needed and wanted. Not anymore, due to one site. Do not know what the rest of the world wants, but for me, it is a godsend.


                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                    I think most complaints about OpenTable these days come from restaurateurs and concern the cost of the service. Restaurant diners, like myself, tend to love the convenience of using the system, but we tend not to see the cost of using it even though we end up paying for it in the end. If a restaurant were to itemize the cost of the reservation on the bill and that $1-per-person+monthly-fee+installation-cost charge would end up costing $8-$10 for a party of four with tax and tip, some would consider it steep. (Especially if it's a moderately priced restaurant that is not that hard to get into, anyway.) But for now, the restaurateurs are more likely than the patrons to realize that it's somewhat costly.

                                                                                    The real problem, of course, is the lack of competition. If you are looking for an airline reservation, there are multiple competing players that will show you availability on many airlines (Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, etc.). If you are looking for a restaurant reservation, OpenTable is the dominant player in terms of showing you availability and they will charge you accordingly through the restaurant. More competition in this space would be nice for the consumers, both in terms of price and, in the long run, the quality of the service.

                                                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                                                      Though a few restaurant owners, or employees, have commented on the cost here, I have never seen a breakdown. Is it THAT big an investment?

                                                                                      Now, it does mean that a restaurant can fill up, without having to dedicate an employee to answer the phones for all the reservations. There has to be some savings there. Also, OT is 24/7.

                                                                                      You are so correct, that it is a great convenience for me. I can book a week's dining in 20 mins. online, and know that it's all handled. It's also convenient, should my plans change, as I can cancel a week's reservations in minutes.

                                                                                      Over the years, I have used two similar sites in Europe/UK, and they left a bit to be desired. Now that OT is covering parts of the UK (Europe?), I am able to do more "one stop shopping."

                                                                                      I actually prefer to use OT, than any of my credit cards' concierge services, unless I am getting "we're full" messages, and need to "pull strings." Also, when I want to dine somewhere, and OT says "no way," I will call the restaurant, as many do not open up all tables to OT (and probably other similar sites). Still, I do start with OT.

                                                                                      As a patron, I will pay my share of the cost (it must be passed on), just for the convenience, and the cost of international calls, plus having to get up early, or stay up late, due to Time Zones.

                                                                                      To date, OT has not let me down, though I have messed up twice...

                                                                                      Just my observations and preferences,