Monday, 26 November 2012

No Reservations About Queuing

I was mildly irritated a few weeks ago when I read that Bubbledogs& were abolishing their current queuing system (put your name down on a clipboard and go to the pub round the corner to await a phone call) and replacing it with something much worse: visible queuing. Apparently someone had complained that they couldn't see a queue, thus not being able to see if it's busy. Well, that seems like a crap argument to me. Surely it's like complaining about not being able to see any customers in a restaurant at 5.30 that's been booked up! But surely if you wanted to go in there, you could pop your head around the door and ask how busy they were? Surely that's far more comfortable for everyone involved.

Restaurants like 10 Greek Street do it. According to @Rob_Hyde, the folks at Ciao Bella once came to find him in the pub next door in which he'd gone to sink a pint whilst he was waiting for a table. There's nothing worse than queuing, despite our English tendency to do it at every opportunity.

From the restaurant's point of view:No annoying impatient diners clogging up the doorwayNo tables of 10 demanding to know why that table of 2 that got there after them is seated first… because they can't see you from the pub

From the customer's point of view:No queuing in the cold and rain. You can go to the pub instead!You're more likely to find out how long the wait is, making it easier to wait

Queuing outside, like no reservations, is for the benefit of the restaurant. It makes it look cool and desired. But it's not favourable for the customer, who the restaurant should really be trying to impress. Instead, the restaurant is courting the potential customer without thinking about the customer who has already committed to going to the restaurant. 

Also, the restaurant has a ready made seemingly unlimited supply of customers, just waiting outside the door. It doesn't even have to make the monumental effort of calling the customer. 

My point here is not no-reservations. It is a slight irk of mine to discover I can't make a reservation if I know I'll be in a hurry or if I'm travelling an hour or so that I might not be able to get a table for another hour, but if I can sit in a nice warm bar or nearby pub, I'm ok with that. It's almost like making a reservation on the night anyway. You agree to come back at a certain time, it's just more short-term than making a booking say, a week before. The only difference is that you can't choose the exact time.

My irk is that I could be potentially standing out in the cold for a couple of hours, because the restaurant wants to look popular, and because I'll be so cold and hungry by the time I get in, rat would taste brilliant and a couple of cocktails will go down a little too nicely.

And another thing: why don't places take drinks orders in the queue? They could make shitloads of money - a lot of people would be quite happy to queue if they were drinking. It'd be like standing outside the pub having a drink and a fag. They take your card and put the drink on your tab. Simple.

I can just about handle no-reservations now, but don't make everyone stand outside for your own ego.
Which is exactly what the restaurant hopes for...


  1. A restaurant in Sydney that I used to love had a deal with the pub over the road - when your table was ready they'd call the pub and they'd send you over. No one ever seemed to have a problem with it!

  2. I hate this visible queuing system for one simple reason: I'm not very well and can't stand for long periods of time. And the clipboard clutchers never even offer help so I can at least sit down before I fall down. I usually just get a look like I'm a queue jumper which improves the whole experience so much...

    So when a restaurant assumes everyone is fit, able bodied and happy to do their PR for free without even a drink in their hand, I just don't go anymore. I don't mind a short queue when the place is busy, but this has become ridiculous.

    1. That's a good point - not everyone is able to physically queue, it must be really hard for you.

    2. Miss South - I'm in the same position as you. I look fit and able-bodied, but I'm not. (See also gripes about bar stool style seating for people with back injuries...)

  3. The other thing about Ciao Bella is that if you haven't finished your pint from the pub next door, they let you to take it to the restaurant to finish it off. Class.

    I also hate the self-important headset/clipboard look that no-res joints employ. Reminds me of being refused entry to too many nightspots (in my youth) for not having the right shoes on.

    1. That's amazing! Yet more reasons to love that place.

      I'd rather the clipboard look if they don't make me queue in the cold rain, though.

  4. You can reserve for the first seating at Le Chateaubriand in Paris, then it is a queuing system after that, seems like the best of both worlds to me. Maybe more reservation only restaurants should adopt this?



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