Magnolia in Charleston - only for locals?
A group of us had a reservation last Saturday. We had the reservation for several weeks. We waited patiently and when we were escorted to the back room (which was considerably warmer than the rest of the restaurant), we said we would like to be in the front room where we saw that a table had become available. A server was visibly pissed and (lucky us) became our server at our table in the front. So that pretty much sucked for the evening as he was a complete dick. Made it hard to enjoy the food (which was excellent).
We were visiting from Southern Calif. Perhaps it was obvious. I did not perceive that we were in any way rude in our request for a different table. We wondered amongst ourselves if the better tables are held for locals or, perhaps we were supposed to consider ourselves lucky for being afforded the privilege of any table.
Yeah, as a local, I doubt it had anything to do with you being "from off" as they say. I don't go to Magnolia much, but the last two times I did were for brunch, we had a reservation (which many people don't bother with for brunch), and we were still seated in the back room.
In general, given the huge tourist traffic downtown, I don't think you'll encounter many places that have a locals-bias. In fact, the assumption often seems to be that you're a tourist whether you are or not. Hence my wife and I often get the question "Where are you from?" Um, here.
It's been my general experience that early reservations at most restaurants do not equate to better seating. I wish they did. That's why if I have advance knowledge of a restaurant and a preference of where to sit, I'll make a request when I make my reservation. It's not always honored, but it doesn't hurt to try.