Wednesday, August 10, 2011

TFL: Getting a Reservation

Months ago we made the decision to try for a reservation at the French Laundry to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary (which is also our 10th together-a-versary). The website states that they only take reservations two months to the calendar day, so when that two month mark arrived, we tried to make a reservation online. Nothing. Nothing for that day or two months around our requested date (if you're date isn't available they allow you to search for the next available date within two months of the date you entered--if you're flexible, always press that button!). The next day came, and we tried again. Nothing. Still completely booked for two months around the date we wanted. Through internet research we discovered that French Laundry only opens three tables per day for online reservations, and out of those three there is just one opening for two people (9pm only). Online reservations open at midnight, so if you're serious about trying for that lone two person table, stay up for it.

Since two months to our anniversary date had come and gone, we decided to try calling in order to get on the wait list and it turned out that they were closed until a certain date (July 29 or something like that) and that we'd have to call back after that date. On July 29 the phone line was busy...forever. I called about 20 times and didn't get past the busy signal. I don't even know how many times Aldwin called. Frustrated, I called our Visa Signature concierge in hopes that they could get us a reservation. They said they'd try but couldn't make any promises. A couple days later, I got an email from them that said they couldn't get past the busy signal. So it was back to the endless redialing for us.

For the next two days I called them starting at 9:58am (they open at 10). If I got a busy signal I'd hang up and try again in a few minutes. Day 1 I never got past the busy signal. Day 2 I finally got through to a reservationist at 11am. Unfortunately, by 11am all the two person tables were taken, so I wait listed us for 2 months from that day as well as our actual anniversary.

Excited that I had actually gotten on the wait list I went to peruse the French Laundry website. Just for kicks I tried to make an online reservation for our anniversary date. There was nothing, of course. I clicked to search for the next available reservation and OMG, THERE WAS AN OPENING for the coming Monday. It was two months before we were hoping to go, but I didn't want to lose the opening; so I booked it on the spot and called the hubs afterward to see if he agreed. Luckily, he was on board!

Okay, so really we just got lucky in our reservation, but if you're serious about dining at FL, persistence is key. Be ready to spend a lot of time dialing or checking online. If you can be flexible about when you go, you'll have a much easier time.

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