Getting a table at the pub just became harder than scoring Golden Plains tickets.
It’s a great time to be a regional Victorian. With lockdown easing, punters can finally get back on the beers. But as literally thousands of people emerge from their recluse all at once, scoring a booking at your favourite bar or pub has become a new extreme sport (which is absolutely brilliant for all the local venues!).
Everyone is desperate to get stuck into that delicious pub feed they’ve been missing for this past week and the recent restrictions placed on venues capping their capacity at 50 doesn’t give us a lot of wiggle room on a Saturday night. While it may seem like getting a table at your preferred spot is next to impossible, there are some ways to navigate the stampede.
Be open to booking on weeknights
There’s no doubt Friday through Sunday will be absolutely packed to COVID-safe capacity at any, and every, given time. So, if you’re really keen to get that pub feed you’ve been so sorely missing and you’re keen to support these local businesses, try booking midweek. A few beers on a Tuesday never go astray.
If weeknights aren’t available, book a midweek lunch sesh
Come on, you’ve been munching down the same cheese and tomato toasted sanga for the last few weeks. You deserve a pub lunch, you know you do. We’re sure the boss will understand and you’re literally helping stimulate the economy.
Don’t be afraid to try somewhere new
The harsh reality is, your favourite joint might book out weeks in advance for the time being, or at least until restrictions ease just that little bit more. Don’t shy away from doing a bit of research and checking out your surroundings. Find a local spot, or a smaller pub you haven’t been to before. Besides, these places have been doing it really tough in the last 18 months and supporting an eatery that’s not your regular could do it the world of good.
Alright, we know this lockdown was something else and it brought back a lot of trauma and anxiety, and been able to sit at your favourite pub, sipping a cold beer, eating a parma is something that you need more than ever… but if you really want your first time back to be at a place that’s really special to you, you might have to wait a little longer.
Maybe it’s worth waiting out the first week or so for things to die down. Don’t worry, you’ll get your time in the sun eventually.
Try smaller bookings or opt for an early dinner
While it may be tempting to organise some celebratory beers at the pub with you and nine of your friends, you’re less likely to land a booking when you’re in a big group. Try getting together with just a couple pals at a time – the pub will be able to slot you in far more easily.
Likewise, it might be fun to have a late dinner and drink into the night, but a lot of pubs are offering early time slots which you may have more luck with.
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Play the cancellation game
You can almost guarantee there will people who flake on their bookings last minute which is your opportunity to swoop in. This one takes a bit of persistence though as it might take a few phone calls but if the venue is good enough, they’ll have their own cancellation list.
Call the venue rather than book online
If your desired pub is doing online bookings, there’s a chance they could have a few spare spots here and there. If you give them a bell at the right time, you could score yourself a table that online bookers might miss out on as there’s always a bit of lag with the digital process.
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Work your connections
Most of us have friends who work in hospo and there’s no harm in asking the harmless question, “What are my chances?”. They’re not going to rig the system to get you in but they’ve got enough inside work to analyse your prospects.
Just remember, now’s the time to support our local pubs, restaurants and cafes and booking a dinner is a pretty easy way to do just that.