click to enlarge This Google graph shows that the Daily Kitchen & Bar is packed on Saturdays.

This Google graph shows that the Daily Kitchen & Bar is packed on Saturdays.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Google Nights

When you should — and shouldn't — visit your favorite restaurant.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 3:32 PM

Google wants to help you plan your visits to local restaurants so you don't have to wait around forever for a table.

From now on, when you google a restaurant’s name and click “more about,” you’ll see a graph that represents customer traffic by day and hour. You can find this feature only on your smartphone, however — although I could have sworn I was able to access it from my web browser yesterday.

How does it work? Vox Media website the Verge says: “The feature is built with the same anonymized Android location data Google uses to estimate how heavy traffic is on a given road — and like the traffic data, it's just an estimate. The system can't tell how many people are in line at a given store, just how many are in the store's walls at a given time.”

OK. I think.

I decided to take a look at what this information might tell Richmond diners about their favorite restaurants — although my sampling is random, highly idiosyncratic and is in no way comprehensive.

I discovered that not all restaurants are represented yet — there’s no customer traffic information for Curry Craft, the Magpie, Metzger Bar & Butchery, Mosaic Restaurant, Pomegranate and Southbound.

A few obvious things stuck out — Fridays and Saturdays are jam-packed. Dinnertime — usually around 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. — is not the time to go anywhere, according to Google.

And if you want to go to Peter Chang Café, Mekong or Croaker’s Spot on a Saturday night, you might as well forget about it. In fact, Peter Chang’s place is always busy, lunch or dinner. If you plan to go to the Daily Kitchen & Bar, L’Opossum, Pasture or Rappahannock, you better have a reservation, otherwise you’ll wait around until the end of time itself.

Two restaurants flip the Friday/Saturday paradigm: Both Edo’s Squid and Short Pump’s Tazza Kitchen are slightly easier to get into on Saturday nights, while their Fridays are crazy.

Oddly, most restaurants in Richmond are crowded on Wednesdays, especially Stratford Hills Shopping Center’s Galley, but Thursdays slow down a little at most places. Monday is the best night to go anywhere, as expected, and Tuesdays aren’t bad either.

The very best place to go for an impromptu dinner out? Perly’s Restaurant & Delicatessen is packed for lunch — except Tuesdays for some unknown reason — but the nights there are all yours.

Thank you, Google. You confirmed everything I thought I knew, and at the same time, told me a secret I don’t mind sharing with everybody.

(But seriously, Richmond. Wednesday nights? What’s the deal with that?)

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