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Why reservations are so tough at State Bird Provisions, SF?

grayelf Jul 25, 2013 09:40 PM


  1. t
    Thomas Nash Jul 27, 2013 03:09 PM

    Certainly weird things go on with OpenTable and maybe Urbanspoon.

    Last night I attempted a reservation for 2 for exactly 2 months in advance at French Laundry. Watching a network time clock good to a tenth of a second, I submitted the reservation within 2 tenths of a second after midnight and was told I was too early. Within 3 seconds I resubmitted and the message said nothing was available for the whole day. This is not the first time this has happened.

    Trying to call TFL gets a busy signal. This kind of nonsense is not worth it to me. Whether it is caused by bots or withholding reservations or what, it is not the way to run a business.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Thomas Nash
      mikeh Jul 27, 2013 03:42 PM

      You're getting busy signals at TFL because it's literally the most sought-after restaurant reservation in the world. How Opentable handles processing reservations at a tenth-of-a-second after midnight is Opentable's issue.

      Seems the TFL is doing just fine the "way they run a business".

      1. re: mikeh
        Thomas Nash Jul 27, 2013 04:14 PM

        Seems to me that how a restaurant handles its reservations is just as important an aspect of its service as the service it provides after you step through the door. You wouldn't be very happy with a busy signal from an airline or hotel, would you? Staffing its phones inadequately shows a corporate like disrespect for its potential customers, The on-line reservation situation is not OpenTable's issue. OpenTable is handling things precisely the way TFL wishes.

        Even if TFL reservations were the most sought after in the whole wide world, which I doubt (given certain places in Denmark, Spain, France, Japan, Singapore, and China), that's no excuse for their horrible pre-meal service.

        1. re: Thomas Nash
          mikeh Jul 27, 2013 04:24 PM

          How many phone lines would be appropriate for them to have when they fill all tables within 10 minutes of opening even with the line(s) they have? It isn't going to increase your chances any - in fact, it might be even more awkward if, say, they had 100 lines and you get through at 10 a.m. but still weren't able to get a table.

          As for Opentable, it sounds like it was a technical issue with the way Opentable handles fast-moving reservations. I doubt TFL ordered Opentable to screw with people's heads by allowing them to enter in reservation info. and then telling them it's too early. It does sound like 100% Opentable's IT issue, not "exactly the way TFL wants it"

          1. re: mikeh
            Melanie Wong Jul 27, 2013 06:31 PM


      2. re: Thomas Nash
        tjinsf Jul 27, 2013 06:05 PM

        Open table only gets a few tables for TFL, I think it's 2 or 3. It's far easier to call and get a table.

      3. h
        hankstramm Jul 26, 2013 10:52 AM

        SF is full of sheeple. If a place is trendy, it's full, even if the food is par. Not that I'm knocking SBP, heard it's good, but it's location--right smack dab in the middle of the confluences heavy Sheeple concentrations would do it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: hankstramm
          bbulkow Jul 26, 2013 02:17 PM


          Everyone I know, for years and years, says, "Hey, let's do dim-sum style but serve great french/continental/modern food."

          It is a fun place, and it deserves the attention, and lots of people want to sample it at least once - it's unique in the world right now.

          It's also got a great price point and an infectious buzz inside.

          Harshing on the eating populace of SF is not required.

          1. re: bbulkow
            Tripeler Jul 27, 2013 02:16 AM

            I'm with BBulkow on this. SF on the whole doesn't deserve this sort of abuse.

          2. re: hankstramm
            Civil Bear Jul 26, 2013 11:56 PM

            So where are the masses more discerning?

          3. d
            dunstable Jul 26, 2013 06:04 AM

            The update says Urbanspoon denies that such hacking occurs, and what I've personally observed from the table patterns doesn't support that story either, unless something changed dramatically in the last week (I just dined there a few weeks ago). It's a pain to get a table, but I've always been able to do it, without a bot.

            3 Replies
            1. re: dunstable
              Scott M Jul 26, 2013 04:24 PM

              I am not under the impression the article is implying that there is hacking going on, but I do think there is something to this bot story. Recently I was on Opentable and browsed the reservations in San Francisco. I then refreshed the screen a couple of times in a row and saw a Frances reservation pop-up. I immediately selected it and the system responded that it was not longer available. I continued to refresh and saw two more come and go instantly. I thought it was a system glitch but after reading this article with regards to SBP, I had a very similar experience with Frances just a few weeks ago on Opentable.

              1. re: Scott M
                dunstable Jul 27, 2013 11:07 AM

                There appear to be plenty of Frances tables on Opentable right now.

                Again, I can only speak of my experiences with SBP on Urbanspoon, but it's not like the tables all vanished instantly when I made my reservation a couple of months ago. There were still plenty tables left after I'd finished making my reservation.

              2. re: dunstable
                tjinsf Jul 27, 2013 06:00 PM

                They can deny it all they want but it is going on. It's a very simple script you can run that will tell you when a reservation becomes available on either opentable or urbanspoon. The more complex thing to do and the more problematic issue is when you create a bot to make the reservation for you. To play devil's advocate how is running a script that tells you when a reservation is available the minute it is any different than folks who use a concierge, celebs who have their PA's or publicist call and get a same day table or industry folks who get tables when they are in town?

                It's not that hard to get a reservation at SBP even without some code, plan in advance, don't go on weekends, eat later or forget all that and just chill out and wait.

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