Is Thessaloniki ready for restaurant reservations?

Is Thessaloniki ready for restaurant reservations?
Is Thessaloniki ready for restaurant reservations?

Three businessmen in the catering industry comment on whether this policy that is becoming “fashionable” abroad could also apply in our country.

It’s time to go to the restaurant you’ve wanted for so long and try the dishes that all your friends and acquaintances have recommended. Then you get this update: There is a time limit on your table. From the time your order is completed, you only have 2 hours to sit at the table. What if you want to order another drink? Well, maybe you can’t, because your time is up!

“We have an hour and a half planned for your stay” reads the booking confirmation for the trendy restaurant “Frühstück 3000” in Berlin. This new restaurant reservation tactic is now spreading to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. More and more cities are joining the dance of limited time reservations. It is not only the restaurants in Munich and Berlin but also well-known restaurants in Vienna, Salzburg, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Zurich. In other countries, apart from these three German-speaking ones mentioned above, the time-keeping is known. In New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, Copenhagen and Stockholm, tables are even filled three times in one night.

Although the time restriction is a reasonable consideration from the restaurant’s point of view, there is no doubt that the atmosphere has changed as long and leisurely dinners have suddenly become very fast. So the debate about what’s good for restaurants and what’s attractive to guests seems to have expanded.

Of course, one could reasonably wonder if something like this could apply in Greece! Although we didn’t know it, through a poll conducted by Parallaxi we were informed that there is already time for reservations in some restaurants in Athens. The process is simple: the customer normally makes his reservation and the restaurant staff informs him of the time he can dine.

The entrepreneur in the catering sector, Nikos Nyfoudis, who maintains shops both in Thessaloniki and in London, expresses the opinion that the Greeks are not yet ready for such a change in the entertainment sector.

“In London, usually bookings are 90 minutes, maximum 2 hours. It always depends on the people, i.e. if it is a big group of 10 people we give more time. Of course, this also has to do with time. In London peak times are midday 12:00-14:00 and afternoon 18:00-21:00. The rest of the time we are all more flexible. In Thessaloniki this has not been born yet, if you exclude Friday and Saturday when there is demand, but I think we are very flexible because the people are not ready to accept it.

For example, at Christmas we want to do 2-3 sittings, when you tell them that the table is for two hours, they don’t understand and ask us “will you kick us out after the two hours?”. So it’s not easy to put into practice. Of course, everything takes time. If this starts and is implemented, people will be educated because they will have no choice”

Makis Fioros, an entrepreneur in the catering industry in Thessaloniki, emphasizes for his part that it is not possible to spend time on enjoyment and declares himself opposed to this policy.

“Time reservations have become widespread in the post-coronavirus era. Abroad it existed before, but not so strongly. I am one of those people who am against this philosophy. Everyone comes to our stores to sit and enjoy their exit. You can’t give him time to enjoy. I also consider what is happening as unthinkable. Of course, everyone makes their own policy. In recent years, our work has started to change without reason. I don’t see any reason for this to happen. So what if you sit for two and a half, instead of two hours? Why should you be with the watch? I hope this logic does not prevail. Unless you go to try a certain chef’s dish and choose a restaurant, which makes reservations for that reason.

Especially in recent years when Greeks’ outings have been limited to 1-2 times a week, it is rude to put a limit on how much they will enjoy their outing”

Yiannis Ziagas, owner of the “Manitari” restaurant, also declares his opposition, stressing that he does not believe that they could be applied in Greece.

“My priority is the customer. Our philosophy is respect for the customer who chooses us. I understand the needs of restaurants because I am also a professional, with time reservations. It would clearly serve a much larger clientele, but I, as a professional, find it against it because our everyday life has been adjusted within boxes and schedules, if we include entertainment in this context, it ceases to be entertainment.

The truth is that the two hours given to customers, especially after the pandemic, is a very good time to have lunch at my restaurant. However, when you set some restrictions, you spoil the customer from the first moment. When I have reservations at 21:30 and a customer calls me at 19:00, I tell him that I can serve him, just until 21:15. I won’t tell him that you will come between 19:00 and 21:00. I give him the choice to choose whether he wants to or not.

I don’t believe that time reservations could become fashionable in Greece. It has started to happen in some powerful shops with a very large clientele. They also do it here in Thessaloniki, but it will not work positively, especially here, where people like you to sit a little longer”

But what do the restaurant guests themselves say?

Opinions on this matter differ. On the one hand, there are those who argue that they don’t like the specific idea and that they are stressed by the fact that they have a specific time to enjoy their food, and on the other hand, some who have experienced it and the thought that they won’t have time turned out to be wrong.

“The time reservation is already valid in many restaurants. So far it has happened to me 3 times in Athens. When we went to make the reservation they informed us that there was a table available from 18:00 to 20:00 and they called us an hour earlier to confirm the reservation. At first we thought that we would not have enough time, but in the end this was not the case as the time was more than enough. Of course, the kitchen and the counter must work properly so that all the dishes come out on time”says Michalis.

On the other hand, Magda reports that so far she has not been informed about a specific time of stay in a restaurant.

“The truth is that I have read that time reservations are “fashionable” abroad. It hasn’t happened to me so far and if it ever happens in a restaurant I visit I’ll probably freak out because when I go out to eat (those times are numbered), I don’t want to be under time pressure. With my husband or my company we go out to have a good time, to talk, to laugh. When the time limit of 2 hours comes, you understand that all this is limited”

The article is in Greek

Tags: Thessaloniki ready restaurant reservations


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