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Dec 22, 2011 12:37 PM

Open Table reservations for solo diner!

I have just run into a situation that for me has not happened before. I am planning a short trip by myself to a city that has many wonderful restaurants. In trying to book a table on Open Table for a party of one, I have found several (but not all) restaurants which say that "no tables are available"...but, if I request a table for two, essentially all times are available. Obviously these restaurants are telling OT that they do not want them to book tables for a party of one! I'm rather annoyed by this and cannot decide what to do. I could try booking the table directly with the restaurant (and taking the chance that they will deny the reservation), or I could simply make a reservation on OT for a party of two, then upon arrival tell them that my dining partner was "unable to make it". The later choice bothers me because it is obviously dishonest, but it may be my only choice if I wish to dine at certain restaurants. I have dined solo at some of the best restaurants in the world, and have not run into this before. Has it happened to others? How would you handle it?

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  1. just call the restaurant. If a table of two is available, then a table for one is available. The mechanics of opentable's table availability in it's system can sometime be a little complicated. Im willing to bet there are a lot of those places out there, who unintentionally have their reservation availability set up improperly.
    Also- I know of a lot of places, for whatever reason, like to take reservations over the phone, if it's a specific party number. One place I know asks this so that they can get some info on the solo diner before they come in. Who knows, they might be a Michelin inspector ;)

    1 Reply
    1. Having set up open table, many of the default settings for tables is 2-4, in the older systems you had to manually change it to allow a min of 1. So therefore, the system won't think there is a table available for 1, as the software reads it as needing a min. of 2. Some restaurants may not even be aware that they are turning away parties of 1. The setup of open table is often handled by open table not the restaurant, and also many restaurant people are not always the most computer savvy in my experience so little gets changed after initial setup.

      I'm sure there may be some restaurants that don't want to take reservations for parties of one, but I would venture to guess the vast majority just don't know that open table is turning down single diners.

      I'm not sure but you may be able to book for the party of 2, then after the reservation is made change your reservation to 1. I'm not sure if that will work. The other option is to book for 2, but put in the notes, your system wouldn't allow me to book for 1, but I'll be dining alone. Then if the restaurant has a problem they can call you in advance. The third option is to just call.

      1. Call them. OpenTable is a restaurant's entire reservation system. The difference between reserving online and calling the restaurant directly is that the person on the phone has the power to override whatever the computer says is available. While on the phone with them, you may wish to ask for the manager in charge of the OpenTable system and let them know that one-tops are blocked out on the online reservations. This sounds more like someone missing something than intentionally neglecting solo diners.

        1. Since the system does not allow for solo diner, just make a reservation for 2.

          no issue, no biggie, ...


          8 Replies
          1. re: Maximilien

            I agree with Maximilien. As others have pointed out it may just be a software issue, but that is their problem. In anycase, a table for 1 would likely get the same physical table as would a reservation for 2 so I wouldn't worry too much about it. And if the host is confused upon your arrival, I would simply tell them that you are dining alone, but "their online reservation system" wouldn't allow you to reserve for just yourself.

            1. re: Maximilien

              yeah, try that at Babbo and see how far you get

              1. re: lifeasbinge

                Really! What would happen...they wouldn't seat you?

                1. re: josephnl

                  Yes. I am curious as well. Would they not seat me? Perhaps, one can make a white lie - "My companion just called me and is unable to make it". Would they still turn me away?

                2. re: lifeasbinge

                  I made a reservation at Babbo quite a while ago for one person - not through Open Table, but by phone. Apparently the person who took my reservation was unaware that tables for one are apparently a no-no. I was seated and served, but chided by the maitre-d that "these tables are reserved for two people." In fairness, I've had a couple of great meals at Babbo when seated at the bar - my usual recourse as a single diner.

                  1. re: lifeasbinge

                    I would have told the maitre-d to stick it up his ass.

                    1. re: huiray

                      the temptation was great, but I was hungry

                      1. re: huiray

                        Agree. I don't care how good the food may be, based on this, they'll never receive a penny of mine! Arrogance and rudeness are unacceptable to me even if their food is ambrosial!

                3. It probably is a software setup issue, and Opentable charges the restaurant per cover so if you book for 2 they have to pay for 2. I wouldn't book on Opentable for 2 and then just show up as 1, I would phone them to book for one. It's not a lot of money but to me it's inconsiderate. If they refused a reservation for one when I phoned I probably would go somewhere else, YMMV.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: hsk

                    But i don't really understand why a restaurant which uses OT and is willing to accept a reservation for 1 would not allow OT to book the res for them. Most OT restaurants will accept an OT reservation for 1, but a few will not. What is YMMV?

                    1. re: josephnl

                      Probably someone didn't quite understand what was going on when programming the OT computer, and set all the 2-top slots for ONLY two people. YMMV=Your Mileage May Vary.

                      1. re: josephnl

                        Sorry, I thought it was a common abbreviation. I meant you may not find it offensive if you phoned for a reservation for 1 and they refused when 2-tops were available on OT, but I would and go somewhere else. I would likely also tell them why.

                        As far as the software setup goes, either the option to enforce exact seating is enabled (i.e. a 4-top can't be booked online for 1, 2 or 3), or the tables are configured for a minimum of 2 guests. Likely whoever set it up thought it was a good idea to maximize revenue. The restaurant can override anything when you phone.