Main | Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It'll Be Just A Few Minutes

More and more NYC restaurants are doing away with taking reservations, citing the costs of hiring reservationists and the membership fees paid to online table booking services.
The easy button for many restaurateurs is, which allows diners to make reservations 24/7 online. “The average restaurant spends $1,500 to $2,000 a month on OpenTable,” said Mr. Brown, of Ed’s Chowder House, adding that restaurants like his pay a setup fee, monthly fees and a fee for every reservation. In addition, a serious fine-dining experience requires reservationists “12 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mr. Brown said, “a minimum of three people making $30,000 apiece per year plus benefits.” “Add to that yearly payments of $20,000 in OpenTable fees,” he said. “So by having no reservations, that restaurant saves $125,000 a year.” Furthermore, while no-reservations restaurants can reach as many as four table turns a night, two may be the maximum for restaurants that take reservations, Mr. Brown said. “So for them, often the only way to cope with increasing costs is to keep charging more money.” That, in turn, can price a restaurant out of its market.
The upside of taking reservations is that owners can whisk in regulars and celebrities as if they were expected, bypassing all the nobodies.

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