Book a table at that impossible-to-get-into restaurant with the help of these insider tips, tricks, and techniques.
Step 1: Book four weeks in advance Begin trying to book your table exactly four weeks in advance. A study by the Wall Street Journal found that to be the sweet spot for securing a table.
Step 2: Hit them up on a Thursday No luck? Call the Thursday before you want to dine. That’s the day many restaurants begin calling guests to confirm weekend reservations, so tables start to open up.
TIP: Forget about going on the weekend. Your best bet for catching a cancellation is a weekday dinner or a Friday lunch. Tables for four are easier to get than tables for two.
Step 3: Make your case Come up with a good story why you should get a table. Stop by the restaurant the minute it opens, and if you’re well dressed, polite, and flattering, the manager just might take pity on you.
Step 4: Try Open Table Try opentable.com, the online reservation booking service that shows you what’s available at exclusive restaurants at what times and for how many people. Log on at midnight, when tables go up for grabs.
Step 5: Email the manager Call the restaurant, ask for the email address of the general manager, and email your table request to him or her. If you are refused the person’s email address, a little online snooping will usually yield the general email address of the restaurant, and you may be able to figure out an employee’s address from there.
Step 6: Eat early Sometimes the only way to have an exquisite dining experience is to eat at an hour usually reserved for Florida senior citizens, like 5:30 p.m. Think of it this way — would you rather have a scrumptious supper at 6:00, or a mediocre meal at 8:00?
FACT: The French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley is so popular — and difficult to get into — that there is a web site (www.thesandersens.com) devoted just to tips on how to get a reservation.