• Maria Valetta

    Fine Wine Representative for International Wine Brokers Inc., Certified Specialist of Wine, Wine Educator, Freelance Writer, and Former Host of The Philly Dish. Connoisseur of Food and Wine With a Passion for Travel and Culture!


  • A Taste of Topics

Opentable Etiquette

I use Opentable often to make my lunch and dinner reservations.  It is very convenient and I love the idea of accumulating points, and when you’ve stockpiled enough, you can turn those points into a check to use at an Opentable restaurant of your choice.  What a genius idea (if only I had thought of that).  I’m curious to see if others who use Opentable would agree with me on a recent, disappointing experience we had with one of the restaurantsthat uses Opentable.  Here is our experience in a nutshell:

 We had made a reservation at Zinnia in San Franciscothrough Opentable on October 3rd at 8pm.  We showed up, checked in with the hostess and she seated us at a rather undesirable table.  As a guest’s first time in the restaurant, (there is a selection that you can chose to inform the restaurant on Opentable’s reservation confirmation site that it is your first time dining here) I find it is ridiculous for them to sit you out in Siberia. We wanted a table where we could sit next to each other yet still enjoy the restaurant’s ambiance (something that can’t be done when you’re stuck behind a potted tree).  Since nothing else was available in the dinning room where we it would have been possible for us to sit next to each other rather than across, we asked the hostess if we could order from the full dinning room menu at the bar.  She said yes, so we sat at the bar, were we could be next to each other, and proceeded to order a full meal from their dining room menu (I have receipt documentation of our order). 

 As we were sitting at the bar, with our drinks, anxious for our first course to arrive from the Chef (Sean O’Brian) whom I have followed from his previous but now shuttered cooking address (Myth), an email came through that our reservation was cancelled by Zinnia.  I immediately got up and questioned the hostess about the email I received.  She replied in a very snooty manner that because we chose not to sit in the dining room, that our reservation no longer counted and was cancelled.  I tried making the point that it shouldn’t matter where we sat in the restaurant, as long as Opentable brought us in, and we were having a full meal, the reservation was honored by us, and that Zinnia should recognize this (and I’m a VIP Opentable member for goodness sakes).  She disagreed and dismissed me to attend to the couple that walked in behind me.  Had we have not already ordered with the friendly, knowledgable bartender, Brandy, we would have left then and there. 

 I feel the Hostess, whose business card lists her as: Marketing/Owner Pat O’Brian, was trying to get out of paying Opentable the fee it deserves for bringing in customers.  Opentable gets paid by the restaurant, not when reservations are made, but when the party actually shows up for the reservation.  I don’t feel Zinnia’s policy of “only sitting in the dinning room counts” is fair to Opentable, nor to customers who make reservations to accumulate points and want to be able to review the restaurants they dine at through Opentable’s follow-up feedback form. 

 I’ve made reservations at plenty of restaurants on Opentable where the seating was for Bar only (i.e. O Ya Sushi in Boston), so I know this is not an issue with Opentable as a company.  It is clearly an issue with Zinnia and their policy as a restaurant.  If they don’t consider eating at the bar to be an acceptable place for dining, than they shouldn’t offer the dinning menu there and should just stick with the small bar menu. I’m curious how those of you whom use Opentable, would feel about what how Zinnia chose to discount our reservation.  Please VOTE below!


One Response

  1. […] The Philly Dish host and voracious traveler Maria Valetta talks OpenTable etiquette on her blog, SipsBitesAndSites.  Who knew that restaurants pay OpenTable per reservation that […]

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