Restaurant reservations are outsourced to Resy, OpenTable, Tock

The year 2022 has seen restaurant-goers return to their favorite spots in droves after the omicron-ridden 2020 and 2021 lockdown.

But it’s never been a bigger pain in the ass to go to any of them – whether they’re old, new, or just too arrogant for their own good.

With restaurant owners yelling at everyone still listening that they need every penny they can get post-pandemic, you’d think they’d go out of their way to let you in. Or at least to make it easier for you, right?

Ha! They made it harder than ever to book tables. I’m not just talking about some places that shut you out just for fun, like Casa Cipriani, Casa Cruz, and several dining rooms at the new Aman Hotel on Fifth Avenue. They’re all « private » and off-limits – unless you’re a club member or hotel guest dropping $3,000 a night.

Hot spot Le Rock is one of many New York restaurants that rely on the temperamental reservation site Resy.
Brian Zak/New York Post

I mean normal looking restaurants that make booking harder than taking a yellow cab in the rain at rush hour. On OpenTable, Resy, Tock, SevenRooms and the restaurants’ own booking portals, rush hour seems to be on all the time.

Restaurants block pretty much every time a normal person wants to eat, even when plenty of seats are available. The strategy is to book masochists at 5pm and try to get late eaters closer to their desired date.

No less an authority than Bernardin’s chef-owner Eric Ripert observed to the Wall Street Journal, « Sometimes on OpenTable and Resy you don’t get the tables, but if you call the restaurant, very often you can find a way to be on the waiting list or to get a table.

But what if they don’t have a phone or don’t bother to answer it? At Indian hotspot Dhamaka on Delancey Street, a cheery recording tells you to email. Masalawala & Sons sister restaurant in Park Slope — Park Slope! – has greedy eaters who jump through hoops just to get through the door. Many places don’t have a phone at all. Others do not respond to them. “Just book online,” they say.

Even small restaurants like Masalawala & Sons in Brooklyn are having their customers jump through hoops to get through the door.
Even small restaurants like Masalawala & Sons in Brooklyn are having their customers jump through hoops to get through the door.

If only it were that simple. A growing number of places require us to provide our credit card data first – from the brand new Sake No Hana on the Bowery to the 95-year-old Russian Teahouse on West 57th Street.

Even modestly priced neighborhood bistros such as Quatorze on the Upper East Side now warn of a $50 no-show fee. Sure, no-shows are detrimental to restaurants, but it’s insulting to be warned of a charge at a place you go to so often.

The deposit is $100 per person at the chic L’Abeille on Greenwich Street, where Resy claims no tables are available after 6:30 p.m. on January 3. Forgive my skepticism, but I find it hard to believe the fixed price of $195 Restaurant menu is therefore reserved during the slowest week of the year.

A recent attempt to book at Anissa Taverna using Resy turned out to be confusing.
A recent attempt to book at Anassa Taverna using Resy turned out to be confusing.
New York PostBrian Zak

And then there are the technical issues. The friendly folks at my favorite Chinese place, Dim Sum Shanghai, had no record of my recent reservation. They apologized, blamed « google assistant » and suggested I just call from now on, while leading me to a table. What a relief to find out later that they actually answer their phones!

Resy, favored by hotspots like The Rock at Rockefeller Center, is particularly prone to going bananas. Last month I booked for two at 7pm at Marcus Samuelsson’s new Hav & Mar. Confirmation came back to seven at 5pm – total confusion. The staff’s response? Sorry, we got it wrong.

A Manhattan publicist friend used Resy to book a table for lunch at Midtown Anassa’s Greek spot with a mutual friend of ours. She then received an incomprehensible notification asking her to « RSVP ». When she tried to find out what that meant, Resy replied, « You already have a reservation, do you want to cancel and continue the reservation? »

Grubhub, anyone?


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