Hovering nearby won’t help.
While many guests that put their names on a waiting list think hovering near the host stand will get you a table faster, it is not true. In fact, some hosts can get annoyed at this behavior and stick you at a table near the bathroom.
Be upfront about what you want.
Whether you want that table by the window or are celebrating an anniversary, tell the host your preferences when putting your name down on a wait list. A host uses several factors when selecting the table, making sure guests are spread across waiters equally.
Call when you’re running late.
Hosts have to constantly check the status of current tables, like whether the check has dropped. Hosts try to hold tables for waiting guests as long as they can, but this behavior can back-up a list. Simply calling, or texting (if they’re using an iPad wait list app), to let the restaurant know you are running late can keep their operation running smoothly and probably lead to getting you to a table faster.
We can track no-show reservations.
In today’s digital world many restaurants that use systems like OpenTable or CAKE Guest Manager have the ability to track no shows. It is a big deal when restaurants hold a table that’s an empty table that could go to other waiting guests. If you’re going to cancel, call the restaurant and let them know.
It never pays to lie in order to get a table.
One of the most frustrating things for a host is when a person lies to try and get seated sooner. Telling a host that your party is all here when they aren’t isn’t going to get you seated faster. And what’s worse, changing the party size at the last minute causes frustration for everyone. There is a big difference between a party of four and a party of five. If there are additional guests in your party make sure to let the host/wait staff know as soon as possible.
For best service, eat out Sunday through Wednesday.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are typically the busiest for most restaurants. The wait staff has more on their plate so special treatment is a bit harder to come by.
Groups should call ahead — even if the restaurant doesn’t take reservations.
Surprisingly, many non-reservation restaurants will accommodate groups if someone calls in advance. While they can’t guarantee a table, it helps the host prepare for the evening—and your wait time will likely be cut down.
Add yourself to the wait list.
Many restaurants have a wait list when they receive reservation cancellations. Some restaurants, particularly in casual dining, accept call ahead seating which allows you to add yourself to the waiting list before you are in the restaurant. Always call the restaurant ahead of time and see what they prefer.