DINING FOLLIES….I’ve never stumbled upon this particular problem myself, but that’s mainly because my version of “eating out” is ordering kung pao chicken from the Chinese place down the street:

Maybe this has happened to you. It’s midafternoon on a Tuesday, you haven’t thought about what to do for dinner, and you decide to go out that night. You call a restaurant you’ve been wanting to check out (can’t be hard to get in on a Tuesday, right?) and ask for a reservation at 7.

“We can do 6:30 or 8:30,” the reservationist says. You take 6:30, though you really don’t want to eat that early. You arrive at the restaurant at 6:30, and the place is half-empty. You sit down and order. At 7, it’s still half-empty. By 8, it’s three-quarters empty.

So why, you ask yourself, couldn’t they take me at 7?

The reasons are hard to pin down, but there seems to be an epidemic of this kind of restaurant craziness in L.A. In the last 10 weeks, this particular reservation runaround has happened to me no fewer than six times. At a difficult time in the business, it’s hard to see how this can be a good thing for restaurateurs.

Apparently this happens in virtually every restaurant in Los Angeles, and every single manager says it’s ridiculous and never should have happened and they don’t know what’s going on. But it continues to happen anyway. More details — though no real answers — are in the rest of the story.

I’m posting this because I’m curious: I know from previous comment threads that I have plenty of readers with more refined palates than mine. So tell me: does this happen in non-busy restaurants everywhere else too? Or is it just some weird LA affectation?

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