A recent thread here explored what to do to avoid getting a "bad" table and how to respond if one is unhappy where they are seated. Making reservations and explaining one's table preference in advance was suggested as a strategy, and it is a good one. But it got me thinking about the whole idea of reservations and their purpose from the perspective of the restaurant.
Most people think the idea of a reservation is to assure themselves of being able to get a table at a particular time. Whether customer or restaurant, that is all ONE reservation is. But for the restaurant, the accumulation of reservations take on deeper meaning and become a major planning tool.
Let's assume all seats are always full Friday and Saturday nights, but Wednesday is usually slow. But for some reason this particular Wednesday reservations start pouring in. Here's what happens:
1) the chef orders extra meats, fish, vegetables, and other perishables; he may bring in an extra prep person and/or line cook. An extra dishwasher is probably in order, as well.
2) the manager decides to open the reserve dining room -- usually used for private functions and closed on slow nights. This means bringing in two or three more waiters, a busboy or two, and maybe an additional food runner. A floor manager has a day off cancelled.
3) the manager also boosts his linen order, flower order, and double checks supplies of things like candles, after dinner mints, and other non-perishables.
4) extra change is ordered from the bank.
Depending on the restaurant this list might be longer or shorter. The point is your reservation is as much a tool for the restaurant as it is for you. Don't assume that reservations are not necessary on any particular night. If the restaurant takes reservations it is ALWAYS a good idea to make them if possible.