Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Are no reservations policies anti-parent?

Saturday morning around 11am we arrived at Hot Chocolate, $10 A la Card coupon in hand, for a much-anticipated pre-Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus brunch with our girls.

"It's going to be a 45 minute wait," said the hostess. We looked at the packed lounge area and tried to envision keeping our children occupied and happy for 45 minutes before our meal even started. They're well-behaved kids, but they are still kids. We'd actually tried calling Hot Chocolate the day before to make a reservation, but the restaurant has a no-reservations policy for smaller parties.

We knew better than to risk it, so we walked down Damen to Silver Cloud Bar & Grill, a step down cuisine-wise, but a solid lunch and perfectly kid-friendly.

Which got us to thinking: are no reservations policies inherently anti-parent? Being awakened at 6am by young children has certainly enabled us to beat the rush to other breakfast hot spots, but we avoid places that don't honor reservations when lunching or dining at popular (read: normal) hours. We also avoid no reservations restaurants for date night. If we're paying a babysitter by the hour, it simply isn't worth it to spend half our evening in the bar, waiting for a table.

So why is it some trendy/foodie places take reservations and some don't? It doesn't seem to any way correlate with how popular the place is or how highly rated their food is. If all of the tables are full of paying customers, does it matter how many hungry people are hanging out in the entryway or freezing their butts off outside? Or does management figure they are better off scaring those pesky parents and their crayon-toting children away.