Multiple intersection tables vs multiple joins

I have a hierarchical relationship between my tables, with the children having foreign keys referring back to their parent ids (assuming id is the primary key for each table):

Department has many Category Groups
Category Group has many Category(-ies)
Category has many Sub-Category(-ies)
Sub-Category has many Attributes.

Now, all these entities except for Attributes are optional meaning if I don’t select anything on my hierarchical cascading dropdown based UI, I need to display the Attributes that belong to all Departments, if I only select a Department then I need to display Attributes that belong to all Category Groups belonging to that Department and so on.

Obviously, one option to implement it is to do a inner join between all the tables to get to Attribute. For instance, if nothing is selected it will be:
Department inner join Category Group
inner join Category
inner join Sub-Category
inner join Attribute
to show all the attributes belonging to all departments.

The other thought in my head is to have intersection/relation mapping table(s) –
DepartmentAttributeRelation which has foreign keys to Department and Attribute,
CategoryGroupAttributeRelation which has foreign keys to CategoryGroup and Attribute and so on.
This will enable direct search to get to the Attributes given any entity.

My question is – Are there any downsides to the second approach above or are there any better approaches to solve this?

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Author: linuxNoob

Restaurant reservations – Tables combinations

I have 3 tables in a reservation system for a restaurant. So far the software was used only by restaurant’s staff, however we want to accept reservations online as well. We have some small tables for 2 that can be easily moved to each other and make room for bigger parties and I want to accept reservations automatically if all of the tables that can be combined are available.

tables: holds all tables for each area in the restaurant.

| id | min_capacity | max_capacity | name | area   |
| 1  | 2            | 4            | #1   | Inside |
| 2  | 6            | 8            | #2   | Inside |

reservations: holds reservation details

| id | datetime            | name     | status   |
| 1  | 2020-09-01 20:00:00 | John Doe | Upcoming |
| 2  | 2020-09-05 13:00:00 | Jane Doe | Upcoming |

And one pivot table that holds reservation <=> table relation:

| id | table_id | reservation_id |
| 1  | 1        | 1              |
| 2  | 2        | 2              |

How can I store different combinations of tables (manually entered) and “attach” reservations to tables/table combinations (so I can check if tables are available for specific time) efficiently?

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Author: Clarissa