Michael Bauer is back on the peeve beat in today's Between Meals blog post, and the topic: restaurants that only take reservations for parties of six or more. (The topic of no-reservation restaurants, by the way, is something he's been blogging about for years.) As he points out, more and more new restaurants are forgoing reservations and he points to demographics as the main culprit restaurateurs courting people in their 20s and 30s know that those customers don't mind waiting, but those who want to draw older diners know that they won't come unless they can reserve a table.
But is it just a simple fact that Millennials don't want to make reservations? They are, objectively speaking, part of a huge and crowded generation that has had to put up with tougher college admissions and a tighter job market as a result. And sure, young people are more spontaneous about dining out, but is it fair to assume that this entire generation values spontaneity over convenience?
As this piece last year from the Washington Post points out, "Academics and social scientists have spent countless hours trying to determine the wants, needs and habits of this generation, and their research is often a fascinating and contradictory pile of facts and generalizations." Among those generalizations are the idea that Millennials like communal dining and "community-oriented" things, but there's just as much evidence to suggest that they're self-centered as well.
We certainly have plenty of evidence to suggest that Millennials love all crowded festival-type things, especially music festivals, and the more recent music-food festival hybrids SF's own Outside Lands is very, very food- and wine-intensive, but also caters to other demographics, music-wise.
But how long will it be before everyone says, "Hey, I'm kind of sick of waiting and starving for an hour and a half, why don't we just go down the street where we know we can get a table?" Or "Let's not go there because we'll be waiting two hours to eat." Is it provably true that everyone under the age of 30 loves to wait to eat? Any smart person should know that a no-reservation policy only benefits the restaurant and allows them to avoid no-shows and keep turnover high, but shouldn't they do a little bit to make the customer experience better too?
San Francisco is stupidly flush with restaurants right now, and a great many of them are good. There has to come a tipping point after which people just get sick of all the waiting and reservations come back in fashion, no?
Well, maybe not.