Reservation-less restaurants are a hot dining trend that has taken New York City by storm this year. While the term “reservation-less” seems pretty self-explanatory, it’s essential to note that we’re not talking about your neighborhood diner or favorite fast-casual establishment here. Restaurants that serve moderately-priced to upscale and trendy cuisine are choosing to go reservation-free, and it’s safe to say the technique is creating a lot of buzz for those restaurants. Momofuku Noodle Bar is accredited with being the first hot spot to go reservation-less. Owner David Chang told The New York Times back in 2010 that he instilled this policy in his restaurants because the “first come first serve” aspect pays homage to the experience of dining. Fast forward several years later and Zagat even has a category for walk-in only restaurants.

No Room For Pretension

The term “foodie” has become more and more popular throughout the last decade, and the overwhelming interest in food trends may have something to do with the recent spike in reservation-less restaurants. An admirable benefit to the walk-in only dining scene is the reassurance that guests are there for the great food – and that’s it. Standing in a two-hour line to snag a seat at Soho’s hottest new dim sum bar shows true dedication and passion for cuisine. There’s no worry that Jennifer Lopez could drop in and steal your spot without braving the agonizing queue. With reservation-less restaurants, guests are all showing up to an establishment for one thing, and there’s only one way to get it.

Predicting the Night’s Game Plan

One of the most obvious pros of taking reservations at your restaurant is that you have an idea of how many customers need to be fed and when. With reservation-less restaurants, it’s difficult to map out what a typical Saturday night dinner will look like in the dining room, and predictions will have to be made over time according to trend. Stocking up on too much food or finding yourself lacking in ingredients can be a recipe for disaster financially and physically. The number of employees called in at a restaurant typically varies based on the average crowd size per shift. Estimating your average Saturday night guest quantity could take a while and change based on various factors.

Spontaneous Night Out

Walk-in only restaurants like Al Di La are the solution to an unplanned date night. Customers do not need to make reservations hours or days in advance, they can simply stroll in and join the line as they please. The Italian establishment located in Park Slope has been going strong without reservations since 1998 and boasts of a neighborhood feel and a menu of fantastic pasta dishes. Reservation-less restaurants can be a win-win situation for the husband who always forgets to reserve a table and the restaurant manager who has a habit of overbooking them. Additionally, cutting reservations can create a more neighborhood feel.

Reservationless restaurants are popping up more frequently, and there’s no surprise why. Not only is going reservationless a trend, it can also alleviate stress for prospective diners, create an intimate vibe, and ensure customers are treated as equal. Whether or not a restaurant should go reservation-free is a personal choice. Create a pros and cons list and thoughtfully consider whether or not it would be right for you.