Strike’s Silverlining? Free Tables at Mission Hot Spots

En Español.

BART trains may be rolling again, but their weekend absence disrupted reservations at the Mission’s top dining destinations, giving locals a serious shot at some tough-to-snag tables.

“It made the reservation book kind of a joke,” said Molly Fritz, a manager at Bar Tartine. “People were stuck in traffic, so the times that they thought they were going to be here were not when they actually showed up.”

Just around the corner from the 16th and Mission BART station, Bar Tartine feeds between 150 and 180 diners on a “good night,” Fritz said. Last weekend, there were about 30 fewer diners per night and business died down earlier than usual, she said.

It was a slow weekend next door at Locanda too, said general manager Leslie Newsam. “We had a lot of people call and just get frustrated as they’re stuck in traffic and cancel,” she said. Early dinner reservations — the 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. slot — were hit the hardest.

Locanda averages about 220 diners on a Friday night, Newsam said, but didn’t even break 200 last week.

At Lolinda, however, the tables were turned. Hostess Lisa Meyer said that both Friday and Saturday nights — when 300 to 400 diners typically patronize the Mission Street restaurant — were quite busy. “In fact, we hit the higher end of that range,” Meyer said.

Over on 18th Street, Delfina also had a good weekend, exceeding the 200-diner mark on all three nights. “Anytime we break 200 is good,” said Cameron Wallace, a host and food runner. “We were pretty slamming all weekend.”

One possible explanation, Wallace said, was that locals who otherwise have to compete with tourists and Bay Area residents for reservations were able to find tables. “We got to take in a lot more walk-ins,” he said.

Back at Locanda, Delfina’s sister restaurant, Newsam offered a similar explanation. “One thing it is helping is that people that live in the Mission are just staying here, so we’re getting a lot more local business,” she said.

And those walk-ins were willing to wait longer for a table, too. “Usually with walk-ins, if we say it’s over a 30-minute wait, it’s pretty rare that they stay or are willing to come back,” Newsam said. “On Saturday night, we had multiple people who waited an hour-and-a-half, and that never happens.”

David Flores, a server at Luna Park on Valencia, also observed a more local contingent among his brunch customers this weekend. “It was a little bit busier than most Fridays, and I sensed a great local presence,” Flores said. Most of the Friday business was walk-ins, he said, and there were only two or three reservations to the usual 10 that day.

Flores also pointed to an increased number of families among his customers as evidence of the local connection. “Usually people who come to brunch turn to the bottomless mimosas and get drunk,” he said. “People were still drinking but not as much because they were there with their families.”

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