Closed for a Private Party, And You're Not Invited

The Times mentioned this phenomenon in a Styles article this Sunday, but I think it deserves further commentary. Also, I wrote this on Friday, alas.

Did it seem like there were a lot of private parties in restaurants this past fall and holiday season, and you weren't invited to any of them?

I'm thinking of Frederick's Downtown, which was suddenly "closed for a private party," presumably an impromptu one, as they informed me the night before my reservation was to take place. The reservationist offered to reschedule and throw in a free bottle of champagne, but my own party of three was left with nowhere to eat that night.

At least they called. At Cookshop, my OpenTable.com reservation was unceremoniously cancelled by the restaurant at 9:47 the night before. I learned about this change in status from an OpenTable email.

Then there was the little matter of the Little Owl, which told my potential dining companion we probably would not be able to eat there until after Thanksgiving, since they were "booked for private parties" until then. She called in early October. That's certainly a lot of parties. No doubt the Little Owl's 26-seat space is a big draw for corporate events?

Another restaurant that shall remain unnamed, since they kindly relented in the end (OK, as with the Styles article, it too was the Waverly Inn), also cited a private party as reason we could not dine there. After a persistent effort on my friend's part, we managed to get ourselves on the books for a slot after nine p.m. As we were led to our table I wondered, where are the torn streamers and trampled confetti I'd imagined, the empty champagne glasses and detritus of cake? Indeed, it looked as if there had been no party there at all.

I really would like to entertain you with another blog entry today, but I'm afraid I'm closed for a private party.