If the advent of reservation scalpers like PrimeTime Tables and Weekend Epicure didn’t prove that good reservations are more in demand than ever, an article in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal pretty much makes an open-and-shut case. They used OpenTable, a free online reservation service, to try to get spots at the top 40 restaurants in the world, and often struck out; after 3,000 tries — calling every half-hour for six weeks straight — they still couldn’t score a 7 p.m. table at Del Posto. They do report some small triumphs: A San Francisco software engineer figured out how to get a reservation at the French Laundry by reloading an OpenTable page at exactly 11:59:55 a month in advance. And in fact, the free service is probably your best bet, despite the many strikeouts. Still, we prefer to simply call the same afternoon.
How to Get the Ungettable Table [WSJ]
Related: The Death of Paid Reservations?
It might not stir up the controversy that scalperlike reservation service PrimeTime Tables did a few weeks back, but PTT’s brand-new rival, Weekend Epicure, can at least count on the fact that as of ten days ago, its forerunner ended free registration — the original’s doing so well you have to shell out $450 for an annual membership. The new guys offer only tables for two on Fridays and Saturdays, but you can see what’s available (right now: Nobu, Union Square Cafe, Jean Georges, and fourteen others) without logging on, and there’s a flat fee of $35 per table. As of this afternoon, PrimeTime Tables owner Pascal Riffaud hadn’t heard of his new competition. “I’m shocked at how fast somebody was able to create something like this,” he tells us, before promising a “restructuring” of his site to handle all the interest it has sparked. New York dining, it now seems inevitable, will become pricier and somewhat more convenient.