Friday, April 15, 2011

Operation French Laundry.

 It is no secret, I have been on a roll when it comes to successfully securing challenging restaurant reservations these days.  Schwa and Next come to mind right away, but I was looking for the trifecta!  Our family has planned an incredible trip this honest to goodness, once in a lifetime, road trip.  When people ask us where we are going I always respond, "We are going to have dinner at The French Laundry via The Grand Canyon."  I responded in this manner despite the fact that I didn't even have a reservation at the three Michelin star establishment!  Call me an optimist.

I ended up at Schwa by a stoke of luck and secured my reservation at Next by making technology my friend, but I knew landing table at Thomas Keller's lovely French Laundry would take determination and a plan. My friend Tee reminded me that things happen in threes and she firmly believed I was meant to get this third and final table. 

The French Laundry is ranked consistently among  the top five most challenging restaurant reservations to get in the world.  Sincerely, there are entire websites devoted specifically to getting tables at The French Laundry.  They have been demoted from the top three because hotel concierge services can often land clients a table, but we are not staying in that kind of hotel. TFL releases a couple of tables a day on Open Table, but using open table for this purpose seemed like a long shot.  That left me to deal with a complicated rolling reservation system via phone and I knew I couldn't manage it alone.

A rolling system is the most economical way to manage reservations at a restaurant and when demand is high for tables this type of system leads to a frenzy of calls and a fully booked restaurant in under 20 minutes!  In order to secure your table at the French Laundry you have to call months in advance of the exact date you'd like to dine in the restaurant. You must also get through when the lines first open and any call answered beyond 30 minutes after is sure to result in putting your name on a waiting list.. Unfortunately there are hoards of other people that have the same idea and getting a live person on the other end of the line, let alone actually securing a table, quickly becomes a tricky numbers game. 

So I bettered my odds.
I laid out some Wonka Bars and informed six of my friends that I was Veruca Salt and they were the army of women I hired to get me that elusive golden ticket! Except, instead of "Fizzy Lifting Drinks," "Everlasting Gobstoppers" and "Scrumdiddlyumptious Bars," my chocolate factory serves dishes  like "Oysters and Pearls," "Lobster Mitts" and "Tongue and Cheek."

The seven of us  sat down with coffee, chocolate, and cell phones and waited for the magical moment...11:59 and 56 seconds (CDT)...
 We made more than 700 calls in 18 minutes and the lines were jammed...busy signal after busy signal...dropped call after dropped call...and suddenly, at 12:18 it happened... friend Midge had the golden ticket moment of the day and landed us a lovely table at The French Laundry!  The room erupted into applause the moment she secured the table! We are beyond excited for the meal and I cannot thank my amazing friends enough for helping me make this dream come true!  I'll be sending post cards to all of you from Napa Valley!


Angela said...

I love this story. If anyone deserves to experience this, it's you. I'm so happy for you guys!

Mary said...

yay you! What a great vacation you guys have planned!

Nubia said...

I'm catching up on your posts and literally broke into a huge smile. This is totally something I would do with my fantastic crew of friends. What a fun moment for you all to experience.

I can hear the cheers!!!


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