We had lunch for the first time at the Lime Kiln just a few days ago and got talking to the owner. He explained that he did not take reservations because “there’s nothing more frustrating for a customer who turns up to eat, sees lots of empty tables, and is told that he cannot eat as all the tables are reserved”. So if customers turn up and a table is free, they are sat down straight away. If no table is free they are asked if they would like to wait, and told how long the wait is likely to be. If the customers agrees to wait and goes on the waiting list, they are guaranteed to be served, however late it may be.
Most weekday evenings, the restaurant is busy but most customers do not have to wait, or if they do, it is only for a few minutes. At the weekend, it is much busier, so the average wait time gets longer. But of course the operator is OK with that, as he makes more profit from selling drinks than he does from food. And the customers are OK with it, because the food quality and value on the plate are high.