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Feb 28, 2012 03:13 PM

Why Use Open Table?

I'm curious as to why one uses Open Table. If I know the restaurant, I want to request a certain table or area. If I've never been to the restaurant, I want to talk to someone there who can help me decide on an area or table to request. I guess I just want the person to person connection rather than leaving things to chance via electronics.
Now, am I missing something regarding Open Table and it's advantages?

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  1. Easy. Electronic confirmation of the time and date that I can file away in my email folders. Ability to email the reservation to whomever I'm dining with. Ability to easily modify it and not worry that the person I'm talking to screws it up. Points (that's last; I don't really eat out often enough for that to make a difference). And I don't particularly want to wait for the right time to *call* and talk to someone. I want to do it on my time (which is more often than not, 6 am, when I do my "personal" stuff before heading off to work.

    7 Replies
    1. re: DGresh

      Ahh, sounds as if you are making business dining reservations. I see how the expedience of it works for you. I'm doing it on a personal basis now. Mostly hubby & me or occasional guests and I confess, I'm darned particular where I'm seated...full disclosure.

      1. re: Gail

        not at all. I'm just a plain old person making reservations for me and DH or sometimes including our daughter if we're visiting her at college. I guess I'm not so particular where I sit, once I decide it's a restaurant with food I want to eat. Because that's what's important to me.

        And yeah, DH and I communicate a lot by email. Weird? Maybe. But it lets him know what I'm up to :)

        1. re: DGresh

          "DH and I communicate a lot by email. Weird? Maybe."

          Nowadays, that is not all that uncommon. We often do the same, as we might not really see much of each other, for a few nights. Also, and in my case, there are at least two assistants, who can plug in the details, with both wife's iPad and IPhone, plus her Outlook.


        2. re: Gail

          Tell the restaurant WHERE you want to be seated. I have never had any issue with that. We also do a lot of wines, so request a larger table, where a 2-top might look OK for a party of two.

          Only issue that I have had, was when I messed up, and asked for Table 36 at Farallon (SF, CA), and I meant Table 37. My bad.

          In a few OT threads, some have complained about bad tables. I have never had anything like that. BTW - Table 36 was not bad, though Table 37 would have been better. I got, what I requested, and have gotten Table 37 a dozen times afterwards.

          I do both business, but also private, and they have never let me down.

          I have been so relieved that most restaurants seem to actually read the input, and when we arrive, after having stated that we hope to do the Chef's Tasting, and wife cannot do bi-valves, they already have an alternative for any dish, with bi-valves, just for her.

          Cannot say that ALL restaurants read the requests, and honor them, but, in my experience, the good ones certainly do.



          1. re: Bill Hunt

            I like the Notes section on OpenTable just for this reason. I've actually set my account to automatically note that one diner has a gluten allergy on all of my reservations. If I make a reservation over the phone, I might forget to mention my allergy, but when I make a reservation on OpenTable, I know it's already taken care of.

          2. re: Gail

            I agree with all the points DGresh made and I am not making business reservations either. Also, we do eat out often enough that we like the points system and just received a $50 GC to be used at any Open Table restaurant.

          3. re: DGresh

            Ah, I forgot the easy e-mail notification to my wife (or one of her executive assistants), or to our guests.

            Good one,


          4. Well, I find many reasons to use OT.

            First, I have never had a bad experience, when using them, and often have special requests, though not THAT big a set of requests.

            I can book an entire week, in moments.

            I can book overseas, without having to wake up at 3:00AM and place a series of international calls.

            I can state my requests, and any details (do wish that they allowed a few extra characters), and, to-date, all restaurants have read and honored those.

            As I might have 5 - 10 trips on the books, at any one time, I can look on the OT site, and see every reservation.

            I get the e-mail, confirming each reservation, and that helps, when I type up the itinerary.

            I do get points, but have never used any.

            I can filter the restaurants by location, by expense, or a few other criteria, on their site.

            They have never let me down.

            That's pretty close to IT for me, and others might not have had the same excellent results, as I have.


            10 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              ditto everything Bill Hunt said, plus OT reviews are SO much better than yelp reviews!

              1. re: Claudette

                You know, in my years using OT, I have not read a review, though do fill them in. Gotta' look at a few.



                PS - for my reviews, I usually rely on CH, and have never been impressed by Yelp, but then do not look that often.

              2. re: Bill Hunt

                I see the advantage of using OT when you know the restaurant and can request table # such & such, but when the restaurant is new to you, I prefer to discuss table location person to person. I don't want a "table harangue" at the restaurant.
                BTW, maybe I'm old fashioned, but I also book hotels via phone so they *and* I are clear on the room size, location, rate, etc. No Expedia for me.

                Bill Hunt, just realized you are the person who helped us discover that little wine shop in Maui. You saved us from having the hassle of shippping....again thanks!

                1. re: Gail


                  I had forgotten that wine shop. Thank you for remembering!

                  Now, while I use OT, and many hotel Web sites, if there is any detail, that I am concerned over, I send FAX'es, with the details. That *usually* works well, though there have been some slip-ups (always on the hotel's end).

                  When I do not know the restaurant, I just tell them what I want, and almost always get it. For table descriptions, I DO wish that OT had a few more characters in their "Comments" box.

                  Predicated on this thread, I have been thinking back to all of our OT requests, especially for seating, and cannot recall one, where they missed my request, or we did not get a great table. OK, there might have been another, and if I had known the number, would have chosen it, but that is pretty minor.

                  Even knowing the restaurant, the table number and calling, plus several FAX'es, is not a guarantee. We celebrated my wife's birthday, for 10 years, when we lived in New Orleans at what was Table # 8, in the tower, upstairs, at Commander's Palace, right across from the cemetery, where her father is buried, in the family crypt. Then, we dined with them for about 5, out of 9 years, at that same table, after we moved to Denver. She was speaking at a major healthcare event, and it was over her birthday. I called, and booked table # 8. I sent three FAX'es, to confirm, and made two calls, from Denver. When we arrived in New Orleans, I called again, as that was a very special birthday. All was OK. We arrived, and were told that "more important patrons" had arrived and requested that table, so we would have to be seated elsewhere. So much for communication, and other than some culinary events, and one reunion dinner, have not been back since. To some, 30 years of patronage is not worthy of notice. I have never had such happen via OT, though I suppose that it could.

                  Just some observations.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    The Commander's Palace, yes I remember way before OT making res for myself and a couple of clients far enough in advance to, I thought, be safe. I was specific and yet upon arrival, we were seated in a not-so-nice area. The place was jammed and not wanting to create a scene with clients in tow, I settled. Now, I wonder if this might be their attitude. They certainly should not treat their regulars this way. Apparently the manager wasn't there or you would have been treated better. Entry level people on duty?
                    Interesting to note that you do, on occasion, follow up OT with a safe.
                    Considering moving into the new century with OT but not with hotel way.

                    1. re: Gail


                      Once, it was much different. I once got 13 seated, during a really high-traffic time, just by calling, and mentioning my name. However, things DID change, and drastically. I am not sure why, but was a "victim" of that change. Well, "stuff" happens.

                      Maybe it was the number of Conde-Nast, T+L, or Southern Living accolades, that made their choice easy? I will never know, but was really peeved.

                      As far as hotels, I have had great experiences, but also very bad ones. It just depends, and on what, I am not sure.


                  2. re: Gail

                    Interesting....I couldn't care less where I sit 95% of the time.

                    I like manipulating the times on OT to see what's available when, how it changes depending on how many are in the party, etc. I have time to go all OCD about deciding between 7 and 7:15 without some poor person on the other end of the phone listening to me think.

                    1. re: danna

                      You sound like me! I really appreciate not feeling like I'm bothering someone on the phone as I dither!

                  3. re: Bill Hunt

                    Agree completely with everything Hunt says. I use OT at least 2x/week...pretty much for all of our dining out, and it has never let me down. One other reason to use when on some rare occasion you are trying to book a table at a really popular restaurant...the kind that opens their books for reservations at 9:00:00 EST precisely 30 days in advance. If you try phoning them at that time you might well get a busy signal and by the time you get through, the reservation you are trying to snag may be unavailable. If you call in advance and find out precisely when their books open, you can go to OT at exactly the right time, and you'll probably get what you want.

                    1. re: josephnl

                      The closest that I have come to a "problem," has been those few occasions, where the restaurant only offers X tables/times on OT. Then, a call has gotten us what we need. That can happen, though not THAT often.

                      Sort of like looking for a room at ___ on ___ date, only to have a "no rooms available" message. Then, if we really want to do it, we call, and in all but a very few instances, get what we are asking for.

                      Still, OT is my "go-to" source, with some "backups" in reserve.


                  4. A lot of the time when I use Open Table it's not to book a particular restaurant. It's more like "I'm meeting friends for dinner in Santa Monica next Thursday - what interesting options am I not thinking of, and who has availability for 4 people at 7:30 or 8:00?" What would otherwise take an hour of research and phone calls is a couple minutes on OT.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cookie monster

                      Ditto this, but Chicago! Or even "I'm hungry now and it is 12:10, who has an open slot for 12:30?"

                    2. Once in a while you find a restaurant which accepts reservations *only* through Open Table.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: meatn3

                        Really...I've never had that happen, and I find it amazing that a restaurant would not accept a phone reservation. Goodness!!!

                        1. re: josephnl

                          I was surprised too! I first used Open Table solely because a place I wanted to bring a group for a birthday only took reservations in this manner.

                          1. re: josephnl

                            I have found this as well. Plus I have found that showing up I usually can get the time I want while at open table I may have to wait for later. Two restaurants claimed nothing before nine to reserve on OT and on phone. We decide just to show up around 8 just to see and were seated immediately. Getting a little fed up with reservations NOT being the way to go. Happened twice in the last two days.

                            1. re: melpy

                              I have encountered similar.

                              First, not all tables are opened to OT, and then some restaurants refuse reservations, when they anticipate that they will be busy. Recently, friends wanted to do a newish steakhouse. OT had zero, so they called - 9:30PM was the first availability. We arrived at 7:00PM, and were promptly seated, just like their previous visit. I inquired about that 9:30PM time, and was told that because the restaurant was so popular, they did not allow any reservations between 6:30 and 9:30, as people would come and stand in line for tables. Well, they were about 40% that night, so I am not sure how that ploy is working. Oh well, I suppose they know how sought after they are.


                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                Don't you think hotels work the same way. Only certain number of rooms alloted to Expedia et al and perhaps only run-of-the-house at best?
                                Oops, this may be dumped as it is not food related...

                                1. re: Gail

                                  I would not know, as I always book via the hotel's Web site, or via telephone, at my choice of inns. It could well be, but that would be out of my knowledgebase.


                        2. Agree with much of what others have said here.

                          It's easy, it's fast. I stay up late and often times difficult-to-get restaurant reservations become available at midnight. I snatch them up. By the time the phone lines of the place open the next day, the times are gone.

                          It gives me ideas for places that I might otherwise forget about.

                          I just checked my Open Table profile. I registered 10 years ago...I have never been given a "bad" table because I made my reservation on line. But I never request a specific table when making a reservation on the phone. Unless it's a special occasion, I'm generally there for the food.

                          It is an amazing tool when you are out of town or on the fly in an unknown area. I will check to see what's available on open table, then cross check with Chowhound. In 10 years, I have never read a review on Open Table.

                          And I can make reservations from my iPhone when I am out and about and not in front of a computer. Again, it's easy, it's fast. So why not?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: valerie


                            I do often request a "special table," and almost always fill in the Comments box, as wife cannot do bi-valves. I have never had one issue, with either the table request, or the menu request.

                            As for my reservations, OT is my "first line of defense," and the phone is my second.

                            I use their European counterpart, TopTable, quite often.

                            Per your observations, I cannot recall ever reading an OT review, as I do my research on CH first, and that has always been good for me.