Nici Wickes: To queue or not to queue

By Nici Wickes

Clooney in Freemans Bay takes bookings. Photo / Babiche Martens
Clooney in Freemans Bay takes bookings. Photo / Babiche Martens

Will you or won't you line up for dinner? If your favourite restaurant doesn't offer bookings, are you prepared still to turn up and take your chances or do you flag it and go somewhere else?

I don't and I won't line up to dine. I just think there are better ways to start a night out than the deflation of having to join a queue or wait-list, but others I know don't mind a bit. In fact, they find it fun and sociable. They're younger than me.

I fully appreciate the challenge for restaurants in running a booking system and understand why so many have done away with it. A while back I interviewed the maitre d' of the famed Ivy in London about the increasing use of the no bookings policy, and he told me I'd better get used to it, it was here to stay and he was right.

He presented a convincing argument about the prohibitive costs of having someone to take the bookings, phoning ahead to confirm the reservation, chasing up the no shows and he stated that most restaurants simply can't sustain it.

Fair enough, it's a game of very slim margins but I'm looking forward to our dining scene adopting some of the clever systems that take the place of a phone booking system.

In San Francisco this year, I discovered it was impossible to book for the majority of the places I'd targeted to eat at, but most ran very savvy online software systems that made it possible to join an up-to-the-minute virtual queue and I could make my way to the restaurant in time for when I got to the top of the list.

Genius, efficient and convenient. Much better than getting sloshed in the bar next door while you miss the phone call to say your table is finally ready.

* What do you think? Do you prefer to book for dinner?


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