Arriving at a popular restaurant without a reservation informs. It tells you a bit about the restaurant, but also a bit about yourself. For those moments when you don’t have the instant gratification of bring seated right away, there are questions that come to mind during your time in restaurant purgatory:
Just how popular is this place anyway?
How long is the wait at that place down the street?
And of course, Just how many minutes are acceptable? 20? 40? 60+?
When you’ve heard the answer about wait time and you know roughly what you’re about to experience, the calculus begins:
Is this the kind of place I want to spend that amount of time waiting?
How far away from the restaurant can you wander without jeopardizing your spot in line?
If going to a restaurant is an experience, then a bit of anticipation shouldn’t be a strike against the place. If anything, it enhances the experience. At least it should! What will make this experience memorable? It probably won’t be the wait time. But what if a restaurant made it memorable and fun? The ones that do tend to jump out at you as places to try again and again.
That, I imagine, is one reason they have wait times in the first place.