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jayrayner

Empty tables, empty coffers

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As, pace my Gary Rhodes thread, i am trying to co-opt your on the  ground intelligence for my own research purposes, I have generously decided to frame a few questions for you all.

I am attempting to put together a piece on the state of the restaurant business for the magazine we shall not name. It is clear that at the top end things are tight but finding out how tight is tough. restaurateurs keep their cards close to their chest, and records at companies house only tell you what was happening then, not what is happening now. So... I was intrigued by the post about Petrus which said that only four tables were full at a recent lunch.

I'd adore any more reports like that. Big name restaurants full or empty? Anybody able to get a table at RHR within 24 hours? Are places that were once turning tables not now doing so? Any new cheap deals. I would love to hear your expert opinion.

Unless of course it sticks in your (real) gullet to help a stinking running dog of the press with his research.


Jay

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don't forget the world cup seems to be dragging everyone away from their normal routines into anywhere with a large screen tv and cheap beer. I've had great difficulty getting hold of people for over a week now with long bank hols and football getting in the way of me earning a crust


you don't win friends with salad

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Le Manior is full for lunch today.

I got a table a The Square no problem (phoned this morning).

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Le Gavroche has had a table for two available on (very) short notice twice in the last five weeks...

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Coming down a gastronomic notch. I could only get a table at Lola's for 7pm tomorrow night (Friday). Nothing available for Saturday evening.

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Unless otherwise indicated, I will address only dinner reservations during the last three months, as lunch reservations are easier to come by.

In general, one still needs to be "known" to RHR before one can capture certain cancelled reservations. Dinner reservations remain scarce unless one adheres to the one-month-in-advance rule.

As members know, Claridge's is going very well, although some late or early lunch reservations are easy to capture with little notice. Do members have experience capturing reservations for the chef's table (for which the food is charged out at a significantly higher rate)?

La Tante Claire is relatively easy to secure reservations for, particularly if one is willing to accept cancelled reservations the day of. When I visited, the restaurant was at least 85% full, and I believe it is doing relatively well.

The Square is one of a few restaurants at its level open on Sundays and there have always been many empty tables for Sunday dinners. Not just since September 11. For example, during summer 2001, one could secure reservations the day of. That has not changed one iota. Note the quality of the cuisine at The Square is not poor. I do not understand why the restaurant is not more busy on Sundays, when options are limited.

Petrus is doing at least well and likely very well. Dinner reservations are not easy to secure, although eating later and seeking cancelled reservations still make a table likely with limited notice.

The Fat Duck remains very busy on Saturday and Sunday nights, but I was able to book on Thursday or Friday for a Saturday lunch reservation.

Foliage never seems to be full, even before the departure of the chef. Note this is not a poor reflection on the quality of the cuisine at Foliage.

Club Gascon appears to be doing well, for lunch as well as for dinner. I stopped by several times for each meal, and was always told the restaurant was fully booked. The reason that Steve P, macrosan and I ended up going to La Trompette during 1Q 2002 is that we originally had a reservation at CG, cancelled it (pending changing plans) and then were unable to recoup it. Cellar Gascon also appears to be reasonably busy.  

The Capital usually has same-day reservations for Sunday lunch (when I tend to visit).

La Trompette is doing a very brisk dinner business.

Mju appears to be doing very poorly for dinner. The last time I went several months ago, the restaurant was less than 25% occupied. When I asked, Tetsuya was described as no longer committing any significant amount of time to the restaurant, and was dubbed a "consultant".

St John is not necessarily 100% filled up for dinner, particularly at odd times. However, it seems to have a good flow. Coq d'Argent appears to be doing a good amount of lunch business. I have never visited during dinner.  Richard Corrigan's Lindsay House and Rhodes' two restaurants are easy to book, typically even "same day".  I have not seen Dolphin Square more than 60% full.

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fyi - lunch at The Square - it was packed (& v good)

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Square has always been full on the three occasions I have eaten there, most recent was dinner on 17 April. I have just booked Lola's for dinner on Monday and Foliage for dinner in a week or so. The Orrery was nearly full when I ate ther in march, Trompette was quiet on a recent Monday lunch, but that is expected and Ollie the chef told me they have been very busy recently both lunch and dinner, exceeding their usual 800 covers a week.

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THis is excellent stuff. Keep it coming. My own contribution: City Rhodes at about 65 covers instead of usual 110 at lunch, but GR put that down to half-term-post jubilee slacking. have my own table shortly for Lolas (job demands discretion) but had to be flexible to get it.


Jay

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Some additional observations --

The River Cafe was busy on a Saturday or Sunday lunch when I visited post-9/11. Almost every table was occupied. Putney Bridge never seems filled up, although the food there may be worthwhile (no recent visits).  Caviar Kaspia has very limited traffic, although its chef is more than competent and is an alum of La Tante Claire.

Smith's of Smithfield, Second Floor, is teeming with youngsters on most weeknights. Moro is very busy. Simon might be able to provide more information on Eyre Brothers, but my perception is that it is not full, but has a decent volume for dinner.  1 Lombard does fairly well in its bar area for dinner and for drinks, but booking the gastronomic portion is very easy (booking the bar area is not that difficult either).  

Pre-locanda locatelli, Zaffarano was already easier to book than before, at least if one had a small number of diners and was flexible as to timing. The restaurant is generally full, but one can sometimes secure reservations that one wouldn't have expected.

I wonder how Novelli is doing? He seems to be much lower-profile now than before (perhaps not necessarily in a bad way).

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jay -- As you know, occupancy of tables is only one indicator (although an important one) of profitability for a restaurant. Because significant profits are derived from wine sales, I would imagine that the economy and other factors may be reducing the quality of the wine that some diners might be willing to purchase at high-end restaurants. I doubt restaurants like RHR would be affected by this, though. If I were to try to save money, I would purchase less expensive wine or purchase a 1/2 bottle or wine by the glass (relative to my regular capacity of a bottle with aperatif, when I am having a longer tasting menu at a restaurant in which I am interested).   :wink:

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We are fully booked till monday(evenings).Space avaliable lunchtimes.Our "At Home " Service is booked till Monday

"we" are a small bistro in Padstow Cornwall.North Cornwall is very busy at the moment, and it has been a very good season so far.

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newly opened nouveau jap zuma (pretty good, by the way) was completely fully booked on an early weekday evening but sumosan (in what used to be coast) was pretty deserted.  no idea why.

and it's completely impossible to get into the electric brasserie on portobello road.

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as ever, "trendy" is in... (errr... tautology?)

anyhow, what's the sunday deal at the square? price? lunch or din dins? and has anyone managed to track down a website (note to self: knock up handy page of restaurant website links when have a spare minit; cudgel lynes into hosting it)

cheerio

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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Jon, I have a handy page on links on my website already www.alynes.freeserve.co.uk/links.html. Any additions very welcome when i get round to updating the thing.

The Square isn't on there yet but it's at www.squarerestaurant.com

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In general, one still needs to be "known" to RHR before one can capture certain cancelled reservations. Dinner reservations remain scarce unless one adheres to the one-month-in-advance rule.

Thanks Cabrales, that makes me feel a whole lot better about the Dinner table I got last thursday at RHR. I rang at 10.30am and was offered either 7.30 or 9.45 in a phone call at 2pm. (This was my first experience of beiing offered a timed meal at RHR and it implies that times cant be so hard if they are still trying to have two sittings)

I saw two tables turned after we arrived and only the large table for six remained empty all night. The late comers were all city boys coming straight from work. I know this cos both tables spoke loudly in Texan.

I have eaten in restaurants every day for the last week (our kitchen is being rebuilt) and every restaurant has been full or almost full.

Conversely I walked past a Fish! restaurant last night at 9pm and there were 2 people in the whole place.

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ask. beaten to the punch again by the big man.  should punt in more websites though; get very irritated that google never throws out the website when you put the restaurant name in; you only get random reviews... spurious "online booking services" (er, how hard is it to pick up the phone and dial a number???) or, or, well this place! (similar problem applies to hotels)

cheerio

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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Couldn't get a table at Embassy for tonight(Sat.) Got a table at Incognico no problem.

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Tony -- I wonder if Embassy, restaurant portion, is busy in part due to the "club/lounge" downstairs. I wonder if one have to either be a member/invitee or dine at the restaurant to access the club/lounge (not that one would want to) (?).  Also, I wonder if one can eat at the bar on the level of the restaurant.

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Almeida in Islington still looks full every night at the height of the evening rush.  Red Fort on Saturday about 2/3 full (and a very disappointing meal, despite the long delay for mains after the maitre d' had told us he'd sent one of our main courses back because it wasn't up to scratch. Shame it meant that the other one was delivered tepid)

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