Advice from a Restaurant: How to Support the Industry Right Now

Maybe rethink that Friday reso and treat yourself on a weeknight.

When scrolling through our Facebook feed this morning, we came across a post that really caught our attention. It was written by Margot Baloro, who is the longtime Operations Manager at Forage on Robson and always a thoughtful and welcoming ambassador for her restaurant. We think it nails a lot of the questions that many diners have swirling in their heads these days, so we asked Margot if we could repost it. She’s rarely one to call attention to herself and she wanted the note to be read in the positive tone it was written: not a scolding, but a legitimate road map for those diners seeking to pitch in as best they can. Of course, it’s a given that all diners are appreciated in these times—but this might just be a master class in what would be extra helpful if you’re interested in going that extra step.

Here it is:

“Earlier this week someone asked me ‘What do you want your guests to know before they come in?’ As a Restaurant Manager, it was a thoughtful question; reflecting on how restaurants are coping during this moment in time.

I answered that I wanted people to trust that we are following health orders, we are committed to keeping up to date on those orders, and reviewing them to best keep our staff, guests and business protected. If we say No to something, it’s for a reason. I obviously think that’s important, but honestly, there’s something else I want people to know. Speaking from my experience, and for the general industry:

Don’t ask for a reservation on Friday at 7pm. Just don’t. It wasn’t a good idea before and it isn’t ideal now. Everyone wants that time. Everyone thinks that’s the best time to come, but let me tell you why it’s not.

Right now there are a large amount of people out of work. Restaurants have to make hard decisions on staffing based on business hours. If everyone goes out to dine on Fridays at 7pm, then they’re not coming on Monday or Tuesday, so restaurants have to make the tough decision to close those service periods. Closing out services means less people are employed. It’s expensive to open a restaurant and staff it without guests coming in. So, most restaurants choose to close down on days they’re not guaranteed business.

7pm is the worst time for a restaurant to book you in. It’s the middle of the dinner service, so they won’t get a seating before, and they won’t get a seating after. Last call is earlier than usual during this pandemic, and believe it or not there are still No Shows and ‘forgotten cancellations’ so putting all our efforts on just one seating is not going to work.

Come on a Wednesday or a Thursday night. Come at 5:30 on Friday. Try brunch, or breakfast, or an early or late happy hour. Call the restaurant you want to support and ask them what time is ideal for their individual circumstances. Give yourself a break too. Why shouldn’t you treat yourself to dinner out on a day that isn’t Friday?

This is a time to think collaboratively. In a year that feels like changing your personal paradigms is just a task on your to-do list, throw caution to the wind! Do it safely and follow the rules, of course. Coming out to dine at a different time can still feel special. Chances are you’ll come across a very good deal, support some great human beings, and it won’t be as busy. You’ll have a great experience, and get more time to enjoy yourself.”

Hear, hear.