CHICAGO – Whether its patio, rooftop or in-person, summer dining is one of the many fun perks of the season in Chicago.

But you may have a hard time getting a seat at some of your favorite restaurants this summer.

Diners across the country are reportedly struggling to get tables at popular restaurants right now.

WGN News Now spoke to Brendan Sweeney, CEO of Popmenu, a marketing and delivery software company that works with restaurants to increase their online visibility.

Sweeney offered some tips on what diners can do to book a reservation and why getting one is now such a struggle.

He told WGN’s Christine Flores the crunch is due to a combination of factors. Those include high demand as more people venture back into restaurants following covid restrictions, warmer weather, and a massive labor shortage in the restaurant industry.

You need to plan ahead and give yourself at least a week booking a reservation said Sweeney. But if the restaurant is a popular spot, he suggested you book at least three to four weeks out.

Sweeney said technology is your friend when it comes to getting a table and suggested becoming a VIP of the restaurants you want to get a reservation or following them on social media.”You’ll usually get a heads up on special events, promotions, things like that, …part of their loyalty program.”

When making your reservation, Sweeney also recommended you be flexible on the timing.”If you’re going to be looking for a table in the the peak times 12 to 2 for lunch, 6 to 8 for dinner, especially on weekends, it’s going to be a lot harder.” he said. “If you’re more flexible and you can be more of an early bird or a night owl, you’re willing to take a table at kind of less peak times, you’re going to have a better time for sure.”

Sweeney said you can also get on a restaurant’s waitlist and hope a reservation falls through, or order your food online and head out for a picnic.

No matter what you choose to do, Sweeney said to expect to see more technology such as contactless dining and virtual answering services in your dining experience.

He also said to keep in mind the last few years have been hard on restaurants and be patient as they rebuild.