The Return of Reservations

Photo: DeBrocke/Corbis, via Grub Street

Photo: DeBrocke/Corbis, via Grub Street

“Ten years ago, people were so used to stuffy rituals of tablecloths and silverware and crystal and reservations,” says Ivan Orkin, the noodle whisperer behind Ivan Ramen. “A lot of younger chefs started to say, ‘If you want to eat here, just show up.'” The advantages of a no-reservations policy for an owner are obvious: No need to pay a reservationist when the restaurant is closed, no-shows aren’t an issue, and big crowds waiting outside restaurants can telegraph popularity, in turn possibly attracting more customers. For diners, no-rezzie policies can feel more democratic than a reservation book blocked off with VIP tables. For a time, the practice became so widespread that New York critic Adam Platt took to calling the whole phenomenon “the No-Reservations Generation.”

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