French Laundry Reservation Saga Part 1

UPDATE: Check out Part 2 and Part 3.

For the last two days, I have been trying to make a reservation at the French Laundry in Napa Valley, California for our first wedding anniversary on September 23, and it's been a very interesting experience.

Unfortunately I haven't been lucky enough to make a reservation yet. We are on the waiting list for September 23 and I will try again Thursday and Friday.

Here are some random observations and things that I have learned over the past two days in the hope that other food lovers can learn from my experience:

  • When you get connected to the French Laundry's phone system, hit 4, then 1 to make your reservation. Don't waste time listening to the voice prompts.
  • Reservations are taken via phone (707) 944-2380 from 10a.m. until 5:30p.m daily. two months prior to the calendar date requested. Their website says that reservations are only taken by phone; however I was told on Tuesday that you can make your reservation in person by showing up at the restuarant and that in fact concierges from local hotels (such as the Vilagio Inn, the Yountville Inn, the Vintage Inn, etc.) do that for their guests. So if any of our readers are concierges or Napa residents, could you please make us a reservation for dinner for two under the name Roland Tanglao between September 21 and 27, 2002 Email us if you can. We will make it worth your while :-) !
  • The restaurant has 17 tables. 16 public ones and one private. Six of the 16 tables are tables for 2.
  • The French Laundry gets over 400 phone calls a day. Just for fun, let's assume the calls are between 10:00a.m. and 5:30 a.m. which is 450 minutes which means they get just under 1 phone call a minute! Wow!
  • At that rate, their phone system must get overloaded and I believe I have experienced this. Today I didn't get through to the their phone system (i..e. their line was busy for over two hours) until after 12p.m. and I started calling at 10a.m using the "automatic redial when busy" feature of my cellphone.
  • On Friday, if I still don't have a reservation, I will try dialing by modem because I noticed my cellphone's "automatic redial when busy" feature waits over 10 seconds between dialing. I figure that somebody else can get in during this 10 seconds and will set my computer to pause only 1 or 2 seconds between dialing.
  • I also tried manually re-dialling today after I noticed the 10 second delay and managed to crash my cellphone!