In the hot seat! How to score prime restaurant reservations


The line was wrapped around the John Hancock building in Chicago during our trip there last year, and yet somehow there we were, sipping cocktails at roughly 1,100 feet. Our friend and tour guide, Mike Hughes, a native of the Windy City, didn’t reveal how he’d managed to whisk us past the crowd and up to the storied lounge.

“I gotta guy,” he said with a shrug.

Here in Atlanta, you need a guy (or gal) like Four Seasons concierge Jonathan DiMarco.

“We have a close partnership with a lot of restaurants,” DiMarco said. “We have to have a very close relationship with the maître d’ as well as the manager.”

He enjoys the challenge of hustling for hard-to-snag reservations and relishes war stories like the time he found a table at Rathbun’s on a busy Friday night with scant notice.

“Bacchanalia, we talk to them constantly,” he added. “It’s what we love to do.”

Sandra Ryder, a former Ritz-Carlton public relations executive now heading her own communications firm, echoed DiMarco’s advice.

“Build a relationship with the concierge at your favorite hotel,” she said “They enjoy knowing loyal guests who bring their children to holiday events, attend business meetings and host dinner parties. Then, when you need that hot reservation, the concierge may just work their magic for you.”

Of course, this probably works best if you’re staying in the hotel or visit regularly. But, don’t despair. The ticket to a last-minute reservation might literally be in the palm of your hand.

“Sometimes, the more people follow our chefs on social media and interact with the chefs , you never know, but there may be a chance that a follower could score a last-minute seat,” advised Valerie Mosley, who represents star chef Ford Fry’s galaxy of hot spots, including Marcel, Superica, King and Duke, St. Cecilia and the Optimist.

And, while we’ve all become accustomed (you might say addicted) to handy apps like Open Table, exploring a more direct route might expedite things in a pinch, noted the Reynolds Group’s Caroline Arcell.

“A great way to make last-minute reservations is to book online from the Web page,” she said, adding that spots such as Wahoo Grill in Decatur “have easy-to-access and simple online bookings.”

And sometimes the key to having a guy is being the guy.

“For last-minute reservations, call directly to the hostess and tell them how much you love them,” said Serpas True Food General Manager Beecher Gatewood. “Get on the hosts’ good side. He or she will likely be able to squeeze in two to four people. It’s always best to go in to talk to them personally, and possibly talk to a nice manager. It takes a lot of being nice!”

Eating around the clock in Atlanta:

Where to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night

Photo gallery: Atlanta around the clock

Where chefs eat: Map and interactive

BREAKFAST:

Much abrew about coffee

New spins on a Southern breakfast

Fresh baked pastries in Atlanta

Navigating the best spots for breakfast in Atlanta

Video: Pourover coffee tutorial

LUNCH:

30-minute lunches in Atlanta

Some of the best burgers in Atlanta

Fall in love with these salads

HAPPY HOUR:

Where to nab an after-work drink

DINNER:

Five Atlanta dinner trends to dig into

How to score prime restaurant reservations

LATE NIGHT:

Grub for nocturnal foodies

Map: 24-hour restaurants in Atlanta


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Food

6 easy side dishes anyone can make for Thanksgiving Day
6 easy side dishes anyone can make for Thanksgiving Day

Although the turkey will surely take center stage at your Thanksgiving table, a few unforgettable side dishes can't hurt. These simple Thanksgiving sides won't take very much time or effort to pull together, but look (and taste) like a million bucks. This Thanksgiving Day, give your family a feast they won't forget by including a few of these easy-to-make...
Atlanta brewery set to expand for the third time
Atlanta brewery set to expand for the third time

Scofflaw Brewing Company is set to expand. Photo courtesy of Scofflaw Brewing Co. Third time might just be the charm for a fast-growing Atlanta brewery. Plans are in place for a third expansion at Scofflaw Brewing Company , known for its IPAs and barrel-aged stouts. A 50-barrel, four-vessel brewhouse is scheduled...
We tried Thanksgiving-flavored sushi and potato chips — here’s what we thought
We tried Thanksgiving-flavored sushi and potato chips — here’s what we thought

Boulder Canyon ‘Thanksgiving flavored’ potato chips and the Gobble-Gobble-ooshi roll from Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar / Photo by Erica Hernandez   This Thanksgiving, we’re giving thanks — for the hilarious ways that food companies find to cram the taste of the holidays into unexpected food products...
Find gifts and stocking stuffers for food lovers at these metro Atlanta stores
Find gifts and stocking stuffers for food lovers at these metro Atlanta stores

Buy PROOF Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup in metro Atlanta. At a loss for what to get the food lover in your life for the holidays? Metro Atlanta stores and producers have plenty of ways to put a smile on your loved ones’ faces with stocking stuffers and gifts, with everything from cocktail syrup and pie-making kits to beet...
3-ingredient cocktails just might be the best
3-ingredient cocktails just might be the best

There are tool sheds bigger than our kitchen. When the dishwasher door is pulled all the way down, I can barely inch past it to get to the stove. There is a doorway at each corner of the room, which means there’s no decent run of counter space. Moving around in there requires the precision of good knife skills. But the second and third shelves...
More Stories