Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What do you mean I do not have a reservation?

Glenn Collins explores the trend toward no reservations,

“the no-reservation policy is a buzz-kill,” wrote one surveyor, who was anonymous thanks to the Zagat nondisclosure policy.

Many restaurateurs, though, are delighted to do away with the formidable payroll expense and heartburn that come with reservations. Some point to Mr. Chang — with his first-come, first-served Momofuku restaurants in the East Village — as the trendsetter driving stakes through the hearts of reservationists.

“There is a little bit of something going on — maybe ‘democratic’ is the wrong word, but it is the closest one,” Mr. Chang said. “By not taking reservations, there is a certain lack of pretension. It is saying that we just want people to eat something delicious. And that people aren’t there for the scene — or anything else but the food.”

Others were willing to suspend judgment. “It’s not a typical businessman’s lunch, and I’m not a typical businessman,” said Leah Dickerman, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, who was waiting in the bar for both a business guest and an available table. “I think the food trumps the wait.”

The rise of wait-your-turn dining “may simply be a function of the down economy,” said Rick Camac, a managing partner of the tiny Fatty Crab/Fatty ’Cue empire. The downturn “has dictated more casual restaurants, where people are not looking for uptight service or high price points — and often that means no reservations.”

Around town, check averages have deflated. Generally, no-reservations customers are younger and less affluent, and, in part, the reservation question entails “the suits versus the shorts issue,”