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Reservations for Schwa?

Does anyone know any tricks to get reservations at Schwa? I have called a bunch of times but only get a message that says that I can not leave a message. Anything would help!

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  1. Call and call again and call again and call again. There are no tricks. They either pick up the phone or they don't.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BeanTownGolfer

      Yup! Many people have had luck calling around around 11am central time. Each time I've actually spoken to someone, however, I think it's been later in the afternoon.

    2. got mine around 11 or 12 chi time. one thing i realized is that if there is no ringing…and it goes straight to a full voicemail… someone is most likely on the other side answer calls. so i would max out calls if i hit a pocket where it stopped ringing.

      here is how i realized this… we have been calling for a long time… stepped it up as it neared our trip to chicago. started calling hourly as of 8am (all times chi times). girlfriend called to reserve around 11 or 12 and got through. and she DID NOT HAVE CC on her to reserve. hangs up. franticly calls me to say "schwa is answering…call now!". i do. there is no ring. i call every few minutes. after 5th call… answer.

      other recommendation. dont make reservation on tuesday. they say its the most frequently canceled day. (unfortunately the day i had to reserve was a tuesday… just an honor to even get canceled on finally)

      1. I just called right now to make a reservation, and I got a message saying the phone was disconnected. Is this something that also happens a lot with Schwa? Should I just keep trying, or is something unusual going on over there?

        3 Replies
          1. re: dunstable

            it's back to the 'full mailbox' message now (i've been calling literally every day, throughout the day, for 2.5 months now and haven't had them pick up once).

            1. re: keefgr

              haha, funnily enough they picked up right after i posted this.

          2. In November I called Schwa and "luckily' got through right around 3 pm.... I am not only not exaggerating, I am probably understating exactly how the conversation went:

            Them: Schwa.

            Me: Hello! I'd like to make a reservation for four, I have a few dates in December that are idea, but I'm flexible and can go January or sooner if you have it."

            Them: December? Oh man, sorry man, sorry man, oh man, yeah man, you know, December, we're like closed, sorry man, we're gonna be closed, yep, no luck, sorry man, sorry man.....SSSSSOOOORRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" <Click>

            Me: Hello?

            Dial tone.


            Truly baffling.

            1. I just now called for reservations, some punk picked up and said hello, I asked if it was Schwa. He said no. I hung up. I looked at my caller ID. I had called the right number. I called again. He said, "Welcome to Burger King, home of the whopper." I said, is this 773-252-1466. He said no. I said is this Schwa or not. He said yes it it. I said wow. I can't believe a restaurant of your caliber is acting like this. I said, never mind. I was appalled. He said, "ok, eff off then." SERIOUSLY????

              4 Replies
              1. re: asubean

                yeah, that's pretty much how they roll
                But if you can deal with that, the food is ethereal.

                1. re: asubean

                  This cracked me up. Betcha a fiver that the "punk" who picked up was Michael Carlson. Schwa is just a place where you either roll with it or you don't. It's completely worth it if you do, but I can see why a lot of people would be put off. If you're one of them, they don't want to make dinner for you anyway.

                  1. re: mcgeary

                    i don't care to eat anywhere where the head chef tells you to eff off. NOBODY'S food is THAT good!

                  2. The Wikipedia page for Michael Carlson (Schwa's main man) is hilarious. A choice selection:

                    "Carlson's father, who is 49% owner in Schwa, is currently trying to teach Carlson how to run a business properly. So far the lessons have not yielded significant results. For example, Carlson has lost the business's credit card on multiple occasions."

                    1. You know, I read threads like these a while back and I was intimidated, but only more eager to get a table. When I finally tried to get a table, it wasn't really that difficult. Don't get me wrong, it was certainly more difficult than simply grabbing a table on OpenTable, but if you just stick at it for, say, fifteen minutes, eventually you will get through (The person above who figured out the phone message thing has my undying thanks; that was immensely helpful).

                      In fact, I have now three times spoken to a Schwa employee on the phone -- once to make a reservation (I was too early), once to make a reservation within a proper time frame (success!), and once to confirm the reservation... for which they ask you to call that same number that is always busy. That left me in a slight panic, and I thought I might have to stop by the restaurant in person, but again, I successfully reached a human. I should say that I did not experience any rudeness any of these times. If you really want to nitpick, I guess they did have a somewhat indifferent phone demeanor, but never were they rude or surly.

                      Moreover, my dinner guest's brother, emboldened by my success, gave it a shot and also successfully reserved a table at Schwa. He had assumed that a table at Schwa was a near impossibility, but he was also successful. If they were rude to him, he did not mention it to us.

                      I wish I could tell you that it's not worth it, but that turned out to be one of the great meals of my life. Delicious, creative... I cannot add any further superlatives that will not seem redundant. And the staff certainly were not rude or surly while we were dining; they could not have been warmer to us, or to my friend's brother, from whom Carlson demanded a hug at the end of the meal.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: dunstable

                        Amen. Can't speak much towards the reported "water/pipe issue" cancellations, but I've never found it too difficult to get ahold of someone at Schwa. Not discrediting any negative reports, but definitely keep at it because it's worth it. Try early to mid evening. My sweet spot seems to be between 3pm and 5pm. Great food with awesome people in my experience. Also, just a heads up, I just called to make a reservation and the guy on the phone (who I think was not Chef Carlson) said they will start taking August reservations next week. So now I sit and wait. Or, you know, that could have just been another Schwa-ism, but I'll keep on trying.
                        To emphasize the keep trying point: My first visit to Schwa almost didn't happen. I called about a month and a half in advance and was told they were closed for a private event. Called the day of the would-be reservation, and got a table for 2 at 6pm. Luck and persistence, friends.

                        1. re: Ausconsin

                          Wow! Finally made it through and got a table.
                          So I've read all the cancellation horror stories and we have a backup that night in case the worst happens.
                          We were planning on taking a cab there. How easy is it to get one back? Will we just need to call ahead and ask for one to pick us up?
                          Also, what's the etiquette on BYO for the kitchen? I heard you may get "treats" if you bring something extra for the kitchen. True? What would be good to bring (both for us at dinner and for the kitchen)?

                          1. re: Heeney

                            bring a small (unless your a baller) bottle of Jameson. that is their favorite. will you get "treats"? maybe... but your bottle will be appreciated and will be used within the hour by the kitchen, the other tables, and most likely... yourselves.

                            you are doing it right by having a back up that night. expect the worste. hope for the best. and enjoy what you get.

                            if all works out well... you will have a blast and hopefully get some extra courses (they are creative guys who seem to love being appreciated)

                            good luck!

                            1. re: Heeney

                              Nothing written in stone on what to bring in my opinion. Just a few examples on what I have in the past. Fra' Mani, 15 year old cheddar from local dairy in my area, good beer, champagne, staff meal from Birrieria Zaragoza, Build A Bears. "Think I may have been the first on that last one" LOL

                              Also my thoughts on getting "treats". Michael is a very unique rare individual and a excellent judge of character in people. You can believe any acts of generosity from the kitchen is because he likes you, and not because you brought a bottle of Jameson. They have more Jameson then they could ever possibly drink.

                              1. re: oysterspearls

                                Thanks for the tips. We aren't so much driven by getting extras as we are by keeping good "etiquette." :)
                                They suggested a bottle each per person. So for the two of us I was thinking 1 white and 1 red? Is it pretty even between fish and meat?
                                Also, I'm guessing we would just call a cab as the best way to get back to our hotel?

                                1. re: Heeney

                                  I think fairly recent menu can be seen linked below. I would say leaning toward whites but bring what you enjoy.

                                  Have a great time and enjoy!

                                  1. re: Heeney

                                    I have found that the food at Schwa is more white wine friendly. That being said, I would bring a bottle of grower champagne (goes with almost everything), a bottle of Austrian riesling or gruner veltliner (which go with a very wide array of dishes) and a bottle of pinot noir (preferably from Burgundy). I'd stay away from "big" wines as they might overwhelm most of the courses. Wine Discount on Elston or Binny's anywhere should be able to provide something decent.

                                    I'm not sure if you need to call a cab as you could most likely find one on Ashland in short order.

                                    1. re: deesher

                                      Thanks. We'll go with a Reisling and a Pinot.
                                      We already planning to drop by Binnys.

                                      1. re: Heeney

                                        For cab - you can call 773-561-4444 for Flash Cab to order one. They are really reliable.