Letter: The chase after that prized dinner table

Share
Related Topics
RUNNING a restaurant is a delicate balancing act: a "high-risk, high-return" affair. One of the main reasons that dining out in London has improved so much over the past 10 years is that restaurateurs have become much more sophisticated business people: by keeping an eye on the bread and butter of finance, they are able to offer customers a better deal.

You can't, of course, keep all of the people happy all of the time. Amanda Kelly ("No lingering over the linguine, please", 9 November) wasn't pleased that Bluebird could offer her a table at 6pm only if she and her party returned it by 8pm. But imagine how she would have felt had she been the 8pm reservation and had arrived at Bluebird to be told there were diners at her table and they weren't ready to leave. She, and everyone else, might be interested to know that all reservations from 8pm onwards are for the remainder of the night - that's a full seven hours on a Friday or Saturday night at Mezzo.

Providing that quality is not compromised, however, any restaurant will want to feed as many people as it can. At some of our restaurants, we take the view that it is best to advise customers in advance that we might need their table back if the reservation is for early in the evening. If no one else needs it we'll happily let customers remain at their table all night. But when so many early-evening reservations are made by people going on to the theatre or cinema, a restaurant would be foolish to ignore the potential revenue of booking the table for a second sitting. It's also important that customers going on somewhere else know that they will make it on time, and our restaurants try hard to provide speed and efficiency without making customers feel that there's a frantic rush.

This takes me on to the issue of sittings. Bookings are taken at 30- minute intervals, and if Ms Kelly couldn't get a reservation at Mezzo for 7.30pm, it was probably because the restaurants didn't have a table available.

We think it's better to let people know in advance that we may want their table back, and we try to do this in a courteous manner, to avoid potential embarrassment later on - which is more than can be said for that perennial nightmare, the "no-show" table. Our restaurants experience between 5 and 10 per cent of these in any one week.

Terence Conran

London W1

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If children with guns are safer than their unarmed peers, then Somalia must be the safest place in the world to grow up

Mark Steel
Theresa May  

Democracy and the police: a system in crisis

Nigel Morris
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone