Ken Friedman on the Virtues of No Reservations

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Ken Friedman is "a no-reservations guy." Photo: Patrick McMullan

When Ken Friedman opened the Spotted Pig with April Bloomfield, he envisioned a pub with great food and no reservations. He switched gears at the John Dory by offering reservations, to court a more established crowd, but Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld’s preview revealed that with the Breslin, he will once again eschew reservations. (There will be one large table where, in the style of the day, groups can preorder a pig feast.) Why the return to form?

In a recent interview, Friedman told us he regrets using a reservation system at the Dory. “It’s tough to take reservations in a small restaurant, because if you book a six-top and 8 p.m. and they don’t show up, you’ve been telling people for a month that you’re booked up,” he explains. “All of a sudden, because there’s no people walking in like at the Pig, you have an empty table even though you’ve been booked for months. That doesn’t really kill us financially — well, it does — but it just kind of bugs us that that happens.” The Spotted Pig doesn’t offer reservations, simply because it’s a neighborhood pub. “I wanted it to be that people could walk in and have a drink and then wait around for a table,” says Friedman. “You know how New Yorkers are, they’ll pass by five restaurants that are empty and go in the one where there’s an hour-and-a-half wait.” But really, the Spotted Pig and the Breslin match Friedman’s own reservations policy: “I’m a no-reservations guy because I’m a last-minute guy and I’m a keep-my-options-open guy, so reservations kind of hold me to a commitment that maybe I don’t want to keep.”

Earlier: What to Expect From the Breslin (Plus Renderings!)