How To: Reservations & Wait Lists

Everyone is going out for a very special birthday celebration. You’ve been pinned with the task of finding the restaurant. Your cousin’s favorite food in the world is sushi. You call on a Tuesday for a Friday night reservation. Group size 4. Reservations are full. What do you do?

First, this situation brings up a lot of questions. Why can’t we make a reservation? How do you still take walk-ins if all of your reservations are full?
Each restaurant is different. At RED, we reserve a specific number of seats per evening per time frame. For example, we reserve a certain number of guests from 4:30-5:15 and so forth. Once those slots are full, each guest who comes in afterwards is a walk-in guest. These guests are welcome to tables that are first come, first served. This is so the night plays out smoothly. Each guest who walks in through the door is considered. No one is ever turned away.
A waitlist is created when all tables in the restaurant have been seated. How do we determine a wait time for guests? Very carefully! If a table of 2 is seated, we have an average time of 1.5 hours for their dining experience. Larger groups have a longer average. Some people do dine quicker than others. We watch the tables closely to see where they are at in their dining experience. With a little math, we can calculate roughly from when they were seated to when you walked in and determine roughly how long the wait will be. It also depends on how many guests are ahead of you already waiting on the list. Our hosts are trained to give you a “window wait time,” which means if they will give you a time range in order to keep things less specific.

Too much technical information? Need advice instead?

Being prepared for anything can be very helpful. You may call 10-15 minutes before you plan to come in and we’ll let you know if there is a wait or not. If so, you may come in and  join the wait list as well as grab drinks and an appetizer at our full service cocktail bar. If the bar is full, we do have a rail along our windows facing W. Washington Ave. that you can set items on. Good company, patience, and atmosphere make for everything.
You also do not have to be present while you wait. Explore State St., grab a drink elsewhere, or take a walk if the weather is nice. We will send you a text message, with your permission, informing you that your table is ready. We hold this table for 15 minutes. If you can’t make it back, we’ll keep you on the list and try you again when the next table opens up.
Our wait list at RED requires you to be present to put down your name. This makes things fair for those who do not think to call head. But why are there three tables that have been open for the last ten minutes? We are checking in with other guests assigned to the wait list prior to you to see if they are able to take the table or it is being held for a reservation.
Each of us at RED loves dining out. Amazing food, great drinks, quality time with loved ones, and atmosphere are important to each of us. If your name is on the list, whether it be the reservation list or wait list, your spot is guaranteed. Here are our tips for approaching dining with out a reservation:
  1. Stay determined – You’ve got your name on the wait list, so it’s definitely going to happen. If you love the food a restaurant is serving, a good meal is worth the wait.
  2. Stay relaxed – Enjoy the space around you. You’re off the clock, you’re with good company, you’re out on the town and ready to enjoy yourself. Take a moment to soak in the night life.
  3. Don’t fret – Keep an eye on the time and check in with the host as the time gets around 10 minutes left. At RED we have a timer on our OpenTable software that alerts us if we’re going over. It doesn’t hurt to check in in order to ease your mind. Having you dine in is the most important thing to us.
  4. Be flexible – Sometimes table seating can take longer, so why not grab a sushi bar or high top spot? Flexibility with seating options means more chances to be seated sooner.
We hope you find this guide helpful as you approach your next busy weekend. Please remember you may always call to make a reservation: 608-294-1234. For questions and concerns, our lead host Emily Mc. is in Wednesday – Friday starting at 2:30 p.m. and Saturdays – Sunday starting at 3 p.m. You are still welcome to call any time that is convenient for you.
Your dining experience is important to us. Let us know your thoughts on how you beat a crazy dinner rush at
Written by Alejandra Perez
RED Social Media Coordinator,
Office Manager, Web Coordinator