How to Win the Restaurant Reservation Game

This Article First Appeared In The New York Times On Oct 23, 2023

Welcome to Semma, a South Indian restaurant that’s one of the hardest-to-get-into places in New York City.

Reservations open up at midnight, a whole month ahead of time. Can you click below fast enough to grab a table?

Why does it seem so hard to get a table these days in New York, and so many other places? With the approach of the holiday season, the busiest time for restaurants, we set out to find answers — and ways to improve our chances — by focusing on a single night at a single place: Semma, which has been packed since it opened two years ago in Greenwich Village.

Semma let us review a month’s worth of reservation data leading up to a recent Thursday night, Sept. 14. Then we asked the people who scored those tables how they did it. Strategy? Connections? Dumb luck?



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