Toronto restaurant reservations are booked up way in advance right now
It should probably come as no surprise that restaurant reservations in Toronto are all booked up right now, especially at some more high end places. If you were hoping COVID fears would keep reservations at reasonable levels, you thought wrong.
Nick Di Donato, CEO of the Liberty Group that oversees BlueBlood Steakhouse and Cibo tells blogTO they've been getting a really positive response since reopening for dine-in service from people who just "want to get back out."
However, he says most restaurants are only booking up to 60 to 70 per cent of their capacity to still comply with health regulations, and this is a big part of the reason it can be hard to book resos at popular spots within the week.
At BlueBlood and Don Alfonso, they're relying on reservations for 95 per cent of their business. They do allow people to walk in, though typically no one does as the restaurants are located at Casa Loma where there's essentially zero foot traffic. At these spots, you need to book a weekend reservation at least two weeks in advance.
Di Donato figures the "pent up demand will last at least until October or so. Everybody wants to get out there and the general population is ready to go out Friday and Saturday."
It's a bit easier for both the restaurants and people trying to book reservations at places like Cibo's locations on Yonge, King and in Yorkville, where reservations are capped at 40 per cent because of high foot traffic.
One Restaurant is also located in Yorkville, but it's popular enough that according to general manager Eric McEwan "patio seats are booking up at minimum one week in advance, seven days per week."
"Now that indoor dining is back we are able to offer more reservation slots and if a patio reservation was to no show we are able to move clients outdoors," says McEwan.
It's really a gamble, as there's no set number of tables for walk-ins. However, McEwan advises you're better off trying to walk in for a breakfast or lunch rather than dinner.
"Even before the announcement that our patios were opening, and more recently with the return of indoor dining, we have had many guests calling asking for reservations far in advance," general manager Victoria Bridgens tells blogTO.
They always hold a few tables for walk-ins, so if you want to try your luck they're more than happy to communicate with you.
"It is absolutely worth just stopping in and trying your luck as we never want to turn guests away, and if we can find a way to accommodate, we will. On that note, if you are having trouble booking a table online it's always worth giving us a call and speaking to someone directly," says Bridgens.
"Guests will find our reservations opening up sooner rather than later, as long as we are able to do so safely. We have installed plexiglas dividers, which has allowed for our restaurant to accommodate more guests for indoor dining."
Restaurants are also currently progressing through rehiring and retraining staff, and as more staff are hired and trained that will also help reservations to open up more. However, like many things at a restaurant, it's not something that should be rushed.
"It is important to us that our service standard remains high and that involves time and training," says Bridgens.
"Our high standards for food and service are what is expected from an Oliver & Bonacini restaurant and is part of the reason we are fully booked so often."
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