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20-40-60 Etiquette: Table for 10?

What is proper protocol for making reservations at a restaurant? A friend makes reservations for the same time at different restaurants, then cancels all but one of them at the last minute.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Published: November 4, 2012

QUESTION: Is there a protocol for making reservations at a restaurant? Should you make reservations for lunch, too? I have a friend who makes dinner reservations at several places and then picks the one that sounds better at the last minute. I don't think that is right, but how far ahead should we book a table?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: I can understand doing this and many people do make multiple reservations, although if it is a larger party, you should not wait until the last minute to change the reservation. Most restaurants know that people do this. I am sure it is frowned upon, though.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Different restaurants have different policies about whether they take reservations for lunch or dinner and fill up in advance at different times. Some restaurants are more popular than others; some may fall victim to reservation hoarders like your friend and have open seats at the last minute.

It sounds as if you are questioning your friend's indecisiveness. Although a restaurant is an institution and not a person, your friend's choices to make a series of reservations and then cancel all but one of them have effects on real people, often small-business owners who are trying to make a living. Empty tables aren't good for business, especially when the restaurant planned its menu that day with a certain number of diners in mind.

One suggestion is to have the group decide way ahead of time so the venue is settled before the day. Your friend's actions seem inconsiderate to me.

HELEN'S ANSWER: If the restaurant you are going to requires lunch or dinner reservations, then make them, so you are assured of having a seat at the table. Some great restaurants want a credit card number with your reservation, so if you don't show up, you are charged.

Restaurant owners need to know how much food to order so that they can serve you when you arrive. If you are playing games and booking everywhere, it doesn't seem right to take up space that you don't intend to honor.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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