reservations 600

My cousin is visiting. I should have done a better job of planning for dinner but she has comprehensive food allergies and I am lazy and so it is Saturday afternoon and we want to go to dinner that night and I have not made a reservation. I am feeling pretty guilty already and that was before she slipped in that today is her birthday – a fact I have completely forgotten.

I know she can eat Japanese, at least if she brings her own organic, gluten-free, soy sauce. There is a great sushi restaurant named Moziki that I think she would like – and that I know I would like as well – but I have totally blown the window for getting a Saturday night reservation unless our party of four wants to eat at 5:30 or 10:00, neither of which is workable. I am screwed.

Oh well, I check out alternatives on Open Table, but I mis-enter the number in our party as 2. In the list of restaurants that come up on my iPhone – each with availability at 7:30 – I am stunned to see the name of Moziki.  Moziki is available! Amazing! I move quickly to grab the reservation until I realize my mistake: it is only for a party of two. I quickly modify the inputs to add two more to my party. Sure enough, no space for a party of four at 7:30 or 8:00 or 8:30 or 9:00 or 9:30.

I am about to move on. No sense in crying over spilled sushi. But wait a second. Don’t give up; think like you live here.

I go back and make a reservation for two at 7:30. As soon as Open Table sends me the confirmation that I have a reservation locked in for two, I go back to Open Table to see if there is availability for another party of two at Moziki. Yes! But only at 7:45. Close enough.

I enter the details in Open Table and try to grab the 7:45 slot but it won’t let me make the reservation because I already have one in a window two hours on either side of the one I am trying to make. Can’t do anything about that; it’s in the algorithm. Damn it.

Fortunately, it isn’t hard to open another Open Table account. They are free. You can do it easily from your iPhone while you are standing on the corner of Chestnut and Steiner Streets. I just open the account under a different email address. Then I am back to the Moziki reservation queue in a few minutes, prepared to make a reservation for a table for two. The 7:45 slot is now gone, but one is available at 8:00. I grab it.


I ring the restaurant on my iPhone and get a recording inviting me to leave a message. I accept the invitation.

“Hi,” I say, “this is Jay Duret. We love Moziki, we had a wonderful dinner there last month and I am coming in tonite. But you won’t believe the coincidence. I just found out that my cousin is also eating at Moziki tonite! It is her birthday and I realize it probably won’t work cause you are all booked up, but it would be really great if there is any way we could eat together. I have a 730 reservation for two and she has one for 8:00 for two – isn’t that amazing! – and so I was just wondering if you could somehow put them together so we could eat together on her birthday? Don’t worry if you can’t – I know how hard it can be to move things around the last minute – just we love Moziki and how cool to celebrate there. Just ping me if it could work out…”

I am quite pleased with myself when I get a call an hour later confirming my reservation for four at Moziki at 7:45. I am pleased but I am not surprised. Open Table has spread everywhere, but it started here in San Francisco. In the deep well of my own personal metasmugness, I believe that I got that reservation because, well, I earned it….