Making plans around reservations made a month out aren't going anywhere.
According to OpenTable, seated dining in Austin has been up by anywhere from 7-59% since late March compared to 2019. In addition to being up against upward-trending traffic, reservations are also rising: OpenTable’s Mother’s Day reservations are up at least 34% in Austin compared to 2019.
Plus, the National Restaurant Association said the most common plans for tech investments included a focus on “online or app ordering, reservations, mobile payment, or delivery management,” so reservations aren’t going away anytime soon.
So why is the need for reservations in restaurants going up?
While foot traffic seems to have made a full recovery, the throes of the pandemic have left some scars on the industry. According to Yelp Austin Community Manager and born-and-raised Texan Tomas Rey, reservations are one of them.
Between Austin’s explosive growth in the past few years and dust settling after the pandemic had restaurateurs constantly juggling changing restrictions, Rey said one of the reasons Austinites are seeing an increased need for reservations is to manage losses.
“A lot of these higher rated restaurants, like four to five stars, require reservations but it's also the mom and pop shops,” Rey said. “A lot of these restaurants are just trying to stay open, and are operating day to day. It's really more of them being able to account for the ingredients they need to prep for or how many people are actually going to be there.”
While it isn’t the case for every restaurant, Rey said making and keeping a reservation is one of the best ways a restaurant can prepare, especially in times of financial strife.
“Their bottom line does make a difference for every day and reservations are a way for them to know how many people actually want to be a part of it,” Rey said. “I think this is our way as a consumer to rally support for local businesses by understanding that this is what keeps (restaurants from) overextending themselves.”
Sometimes trends drive reservation traffic
Built by McGuire Moorman Hospitality, Sammie’s shares the same managing company behind trendy restaurants like Perla’s, Elizabeth St. Cafe, Josephine House, Pool Burger and Swedish Hill.
Aaron, who declined to give his last name to avoid backlash, said walk-ins were rarely taken while he was bartending at new downtown restaurant Sammie's Italian, 807 W. 6th St.
On average, Aaron said reservations were booked three months out. Currently, the first-weekend reservation for two is unavailable until Sunday, June 5, at 9:15 p.m.
“It was very rare to walk in and be able to sit in the dining room—walk-ins would always be shown to the bar,” Aaron said. “But they would also reserve the bar if anyone wanted that, so there were nights where we had no one sitting at the bar until 7:30 p.m. because it was fully reserved.”
Reservations at Sammie’s were particularly in high demand, Aaron said, because the restaurant would only release a portion online and offer the rest to diners to book in advance at the end of their meal.
“When people would come to the restaurant, have a great time and want to come back they would have an option and opportunity to do that—we would instruct them to talk to a manager and see what we can do for them,” Aaron said. “It was kind of the Sammie’s motto and goal to be able to make someone even happier than they already were on their way out.”
Reservations are the “new normal”
While having to make a reservation used to bother him, Rey said that like using QR codes for menus, he believes reservations are here to stay.
However, if reservations are not your thing, Rey recommends being willing to make an adventure out of finding your meal, utilizing Yelp’s waitlist figure to get on the restaurant’s list ahead of time or finding a restaurant that reserves space for walk-ins, like Aba. Another trick for parties of 2 is gambling on open bar seating.
“I feel like this is just kind of the new normal when going out for dining or for libations,” Rey said.
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Austin police are investigating the killing of Moriah "Mo" Wilson after she was found with gunshot wounds inside an Austin home.
Wilson, a gravel and mountain bike racer, was visiting Austin from Colorado in preparation for the Gravel Locos race on Saturday taking place in Hico, a small town 2 hours from Austin.
On Wednesday, her roommate came home and found Wilson unresponsive with "a lot of blood near her,” police said. It is now being investigated as a suspicious death. No further information on the suspect or motive behind the killing are available at this time.
Wilson recently had become a full-time biker after winning a slew of races in the past year.
Some of your favorite Instagram filters can’t be used in Texas anymore and Austinites are sounding off on social media.
Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, announced on Wednesday that certain filters would no longer be available in Texas.
The change is a result of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit against Meta, alleging the company uses facial recognition technology that violates laws in Texas. A release from Meta says it stopped using facial recognition tech in November 2021 and denies Paxton’s allegations.
Some Austinites bemoaned the shift, saying some of their favorite filters were now unavailable.
This was my FAVORITE filter on @instagram and they done removed it cause I’m in Texas ! Like wowwwwww pic.twitter.com/uX60hdIC0Q
— Pinkyy Montana (@inkstar_pinkyy) May 11, 2022
i heard that instagram filters got banned in texas? what the actual fuck y’all better give me my favorite filter back
— lia 🤍 (@liatootrill) May 11, 2022
loved this stupid filter sm i hate texas pic.twitter.com/DXr9mmUc64
— birthday boy jeno 🎂 (@beabtox) May 12, 2022
But more often than not, locals joked about the ban.
Texas women seeing the filter ban on IG pic.twitter.com/yDMcP3Qtsr
— Christian (Anabolic) Flores (@christian_flo24) May 11, 2022
So, the state of Texas has banned filter use on IG? THE END IS NEAR. 😂
— THE FRANCHISE! Франшиза (@NYCFranchise718) May 12, 2022
And some in-between chose to show off some natural beauty.
I live in Texas, but no filter needed. 😉 pic.twitter.com/A6teRgYMKn
— bad and bruja (@starseedmami) May 11, 2022
filter, no filter..texas women still reign supreme.
— 🎍 (@_sixile) May 11, 2022
Finally, some are trying to cash in on the opportunity.
Texas IG users- if you want to filter your picture cashapp me $1.50 $ErvnYng
— Gemini (@ervn_y) May 11, 2022
Meta said it plans to create an opt-in system for both Texas and Illinois residents, who are facing the same issues.