Call Ahead, Fall Behind

, , , , | Right | September 10, 2019

(Mother’s Day is by far the busiest day of the year for us. Last night, we already had 31 call-aheads — about 300 people. We do call-aheads and NOT reservations. The way call-aheads work is that the people call however long before they want to come in to eat, and the time they give us, like 6:30, is the time their wait begins if we are on a wait. The system has some algorithm, so if there’s an hour wait, a call-ahead may only wait twenty minutes, but they may wait longer depending on how busy we are and the size of their party, but either way they usually still have to wait a certain amount of time. Call-ahead just puts parties on a priority list and puts them before all walk-in parties. Mother’s Day we have a lot. The wait is about an hour and a half at this point, and a guy comes in to check in for his call-ahead. The first red flag is that she immediately begins with:)

Customer: “We had a reservation.”

(At our restaurant, we call that the “R-word.” We do NOT do reservations, and we are very careful about the word when we speak to customers.)

Me: “Hi! We have a call ahead for [Customer] for six people. I’ll give you this and it’ll be about thirty or so minutes.”

(I hand her a pager. She gives me a very confused look. Two other people are with her who don’t look confused but this lady is just dead confused.)

Customer: “Uh, actually, we had a reservation.”

Me: “[Restaurant] doesn’t do reservations, ma’am. We do call-ahead seating, so you still have a wait but it’s much less than everyone else. The regular wait right now is an hour and a half.”

Customer: “Okay.”

(She walks outside, which is normal for people waiting. Then, she comes back with her husband.)

Customer’s Husband: “We have a reservation. I called last night.”

Me: *explains the call-ahead system again, but he interrupts*

Customer’s Husband: “Yeah, no, I talked to a host last night on the phone and they said they do reservations.”

(I know full well there is no way a host would say that or let him think he was reserving a table. I actually remember him calling, as my closest host friend took his call and had trouble with him trying to book too large of a party so late, so he lessened the party and my friend put it in. There was no mention of a reservation.)

Me: “Yeah, I’m sorry, that should’ve been explained to you when you called, but we don’t do reservations. It is still a thirty-minute wait. As you can see, our wait is currently an hour and a half, so thirty minutes is much less.”

(He says again that he has a reservation. I’m getting annoyed as many people are behind him now waiting to get checked in.)

Me: “No, sir, you didn’t, because [Restaurant] doesn’t do reservations. There’s no way you could have.”

(He says it again.)

Me: “We don’t do reservations. So, no. You didn’t have one.”

(We do this for maybe five minutes. It’s amazing, honestly. I’ve been a host for two years so people don’t scare me anymore. I’m not sure what he thinks he will do by repeating it.)

Me: “Sir, I’m getting you a manager because you are holding up the line.”

(I got a manager. The same conversation happened. My host friend who’d taken their call explained to them and the manager what happened. The guy realized that she was the girl who’d taken their call and got extremely quiet for a bit. But he started up again, anyway. My manager ended up pushing them above everyone else and getting them a table immediately. Ridiculous. But I hope that fool realizes how stupid he is.)

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