'No book' policies: Is waiting an hour-and-a-half for a table the new normal?

Busy kitchen
Sometimes there's a 45 minute wait, just to get your seat. Photo credit: Getty

When I made a long-awaited revist to Al Brown's Depot in the Auckland CBD on Friday night, I was told there would be a hefty wait. I found myself downing a few cocktails at the bar next door before being informed my table was ready... two hours later.

Restaurants in Auckland have had guests queue for hours through their strict "no book" policy, something becoming a more regular occurrence across the city.

In fact, you may as well dedicate your whole Friday night to waiting, so go find yourself a drink or two if you're wanting to embrace the full experience.

These popular eateries ensure they have a fast turnover rate; anyone willing to wait will be given a table before the end of the night. That's based on the idea that people actually turn up and finish their meals just in time for the next group to replace them, of course.

The Restaurant Association of New Zealand chief executive officer Marisa Bidois says that even if these restaurants took bookings, they would still be just as busy.

"It just gives the restaurants more flexibility," she told Newshub.

"It's also a good opportunity to have a pre-dinner drink somewhere else, so you can sort of work it into your schedule."

Brown's philosophy around the no reservation policy is to include everyone.

This policy extends to international boy bands; when One Direction requested to dine at Depot in 2012, even they were told they would have to wait like everyone else.

Clearly there are no exceptions.

"We've had no reservation policy since we opened, almost seven years ago now," says Rachael Spratt, Depot general manager.

"Al Brown's philosophy around reservation is it gives everybody a chance to come, if we did take bookings we would be booked out."

She added that it can pay to pick when you dine.

"If you were to come in on Friday night at 7:30, that's kind of the nature of a Friday night, so that's kind of to be expected a little bit. "

The restaurants' confidence in its food is reflected through the brave front of house guests who grit their teeth while juggling a flood of hungry customers. they make no exceptions, even if you won the 2014 Teen Choice Award for Choice Male Hottie.



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