Restaurant Seating

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Extreme Glow
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2005/06/24 17:55:29 (permalink)

Restaurant Seating

I have a question and a comment for The Professionals:

I sometimes eat at restaurants at slow times such as mid-afternoon. It may be a really late lunch or an early dinner, but typically the dining room is almost empty. If there is another person or couple already seated, the host will ALWAYS seat me in the adjacent table in the chair closest to them! Why is this? I had this happen recently in Los Alamos, NM while traveling. I stopped at a restaurant that had three distinct dining areas. The host took me into one area that was empty except for a family of four (two small children) and showed me the table immediately adjacent to them, so that I would be sitting two feet away from fidgeting youngsters in an otherwise empty room. I asked for another table.

I already know the answer and that is that it makes the server's job easier to have customers close together, but it is a very uncomfortable experience. I know it is uncomfortable for others too as I will see a couple having an intimate conversation in the deserted dining room and then all of the sudden a stranger (me) is seated in their laps and all conversation either halts or moves on to trivial matters. It's also awkward to ask for another table because the seated people feel insulted that you don't want to sit near them (and relieved at the same time that you aren't).

My comment to The Professionals is to not to follow this practice. You don't have to put people in far corners like prize fighters but a little space between patrons until the room fills up would be much appreciated.
#1

22 Replies Related Threads

    The Travelin Man
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/06/28 13:52:08 (permalink)
    I don't find that to be a pervasive problem, but I don't often find myself in empty restaurants.

    My bigger issue with restaurant seating is the need of some restaurants to make you wait for a table when there are clearly empty tables in the restaurant. I have heard excuses -- there are too many people sat at one time, so it backs up the kitchen; there is not enough staff to handle the influx; etc. It all sounds like poor planning on the restaurant's part effecting my less pleasant dining experience.

    Steve
    #2
    wheregreggeats.com
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/06/28 14:52:23 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by stevekoe

    I don't find that to be a pervasive problem, but I don't often find myself in empty restaurants.

    My bigger issue with restaurant seating is the need of some restaurants to make you wait for a table when there are clearly empty tables in the restaurant. I have heard excuses -- there are too many people sat at one time, so it backs up the kitchen; there is not enough staff to handle the influx; etc. It all sounds like poor planning on the restaurant's part effecting my less pleasant dining experience.

    Steve


    I agree. I think sometimes the restaurant is trying to look busy.

    You are right, how is it that a restaurant isn't ready for customers at lunchtime? When confronted by this scenario, I alway leave. This is the exception to my food-line rule ... "If you see a line for food, get in it."
    #3
    Bonzmoose
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/06/28 16:12:14 (permalink)
    We've faced both problems, the one from EG that started this thread and the one stated by stevekoe. When faced with being seated jam up against another party and many empty tables we usually ask for one several spaces away but have, on occasion, been met with exasperation. This makes us inclined not to return for another meal. When faced with waiting more than 5 minutes to be seated and there are many empty tables (one of our pet peeves) we tell the host/hostess our feelings in a quiet manner and walk out, never to return. There are too many nicer, more accommodating places to spend our hard-earned money.
    #4
    wheregreggeats.com
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/06/28 16:30:52 (permalink)
    Here's another one ... places that won't seat you until the entire party has arrived.

    We eat in pretty big groups when we are on the road. We buy good food and drink nice wine and tip well. One time they wouldn't seat our group of 20 because there were only 17 present. "No exceptions."

    We left, went next door had a fine dinner and made it a point to stop by the first palce and show the host our nearly $2,000 receipt.



    #5
    -Tricky-
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/06/28 17:35:07 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by wheregreggeats.com

    We left, went next door had a fine dinner and made it a point to stop by the first palce and show the host our nearly $2,000 receipt.


    It's not really the host's policy, and being snide with him or her gets you nowhere. If you'd shown your receipt to someone you *knew* was the manger, that might have been a reasonable reaction. As it is, you really just appeared sort of childish and "You should have broken your rule for us; we're special".

    The host does as s/he is told. Any time they can break a rule, they will. If they don't it's because their jobs depend on it; no restaurant staff member wants a pissed off guest in his or her lobby (or at his or her table). If a host can do something for you, s/he probably will.

    Letting a manager know you were displeased with his or her policies would have definitely made your point.
    #6
    Pwingsx
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/06/28 17:47:11 (permalink)
    You don't think the hostess told the manager? I agree, I would've asked for the manager, but I'm pretty sure the point was made anyway.
    #7
    wheregreggeats.com
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/06/28 17:59:13 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by -Tricky-

    quote:
    Originally posted by wheregreggeats.com

    We left, went next door had a fine dinner and made it a point to stop by the first palce and show the host our nearly $2,000 receipt.

    It's not really the host's policy, and being snide with him or her gets you nowhere. If you'd shown your receipt to someone you *knew* was the manger, that might have been a reasonable reaction. As it is, you really just appeared sort of childish and "You should have broken your rule for us; we're special".

    The host does as s/he is told. Any time they can break a rule, they will. If they don't it's because their jobs depend on it; no restaurant staff member wants a pissed off guest in his or her lobby (or at his or her table). If a host can do something for you, s/he probably will.

    Letting a manager know you were displeased with his or her policies would have definitely made your point.


    (A) My main point is that it is a "rule" that doesn't seem logical to me -- even from the restaurant's business point of view -- for us, or any group.

    In the end there were only 19 of us who showed up. I am pretty sure, that from a practical point of view there is no difference in the table size for a 19 top or a 20 top ... the place wasn't even half-full busy and space wasn't an issue.

    This wasn't a TGI Fridays.

    and (B) Regarding our "snide, childish" communication with the host, the host, if not a manager, certainly has a channel of communication with the manager/owners and is in a better position to make a case for the policy's change -- for, what I think is the overall good of the establishment. We quantified it.

    Our host was embarrassed to her 18 guests, when unhappy, she has a right to articulate (dramatize) it to the people that caused it.
    #8
    -Tricky-
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/06/28 18:10:36 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Pwingsx

    You don't think the hostess told the manager? I agree, I would've asked for the manager, but I'm pretty sure the point was made anyway.


    She very well may not have. Complaining to her about something she can't control, and in a gloating manner, probably only made her angry. Maybe she should have told, but you can't depend on the fact that she did.

    The only way to be sure that the person who can change the policy knows your dissatisfaction is to tell him or her.
    #9
    BarbaraCt
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/06/28 18:59:09 (permalink)
    Perhaps I am among the few, but I would like to chime in here. I object to a restaurant that has only booths. I am uncomfortable in a booth, unless it has a movable table and some room. I would much rather have a table and chairs where I can decide how much room to put between the table and me. That also applies to the "chain" restaurants that we occasionally use on vacation for breakfast. They will have swivel chairs that are bolted to the floor. I can understand that it is done to save space, but does it really save that much? While I am on the subject, and not to be crude, but most ladies rooms have a huge amount of space between the stalls and the sink. But try getting in the stall, turning around to close the stall door, and not touching the "throne" with your dress, coat, whatever. If they used about 6 more inches, and opened the doors out,instead of in, there would be no problem. I would like to see the guy who designed them put on a coat, open the door to the stall, back up to close the door, and not let his coat touch the "throne". Thanks for letting me vent.
    #10
    mbrookes
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/13 15:14:39 (permalink)
    Barbara Ct, I do soooo agree with you. And if you happen to be tall,as I am, your knees will jam against the door.
    #11
    mayor al
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/13 15:58:08 (permalink)

    Those of us who shop in the "King-Sized Cataloge" have the same problem.
    It would seem that tables over booths would offer a more flexible seating arrangement for a business. Not necessarily all booths or all tables, but enough of both to satisfy the target customers of all shapes and sizes.
    Without meaning to get off track here. One of the big reasons I don't go to a Waffle House is their lack of loose chairs anywhere. I don't fit their seating maximums in the booths or at the counter. If i do find a chair i must block an aisle somewhere to sit at the end of a table. In order to avoid this uncomfortable and inconvenient arrangement I simply don't go there.
    Owner-Managers, I am a good customer. I complain little and spend more than most. Make me happy and I will be return business with friends, for sure.
    But, be less than considerate of my needs and I will be gone quickly and never return. And that's a fact !
    #12
    dreamzpainter
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/13 16:00:22 (permalink)
    I am an XX bordering on XXX size man, most establishments don't leave enough room between tables for those of us larger than the median population, when it comes to booths I generally sit sideways. As an aside... handicap stalls are much bigger than the others..
    #13
    Nemis
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/13 16:58:51 (permalink)
    I was working as a host once and I've never seen a restaurant do this..they assigned all the tables at the very begining of service according to the reservations in the book, it was my first day and a couple came in and with all the tables assigned to someone else i didn't know where to put them because i was afraid of messing up the system!! Of course the couple left then called totally pissed off thinking i didn't seat them cause they were " white trash" or something like that...ohh not a good start to the day It's the begining of service and you look at the seating chart and all looks filled...very confusing!
    #14
    -Tricky-
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/13 17:32:18 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BarbaraCt

    Perhaps I am among the few, but I would like to chime in here. I object to a restaurant that has only booths. I am uncomfortable in a booth, unless it has a movable table and some room. I would much rather have a table and chairs where I can decide how much room to put between the table and me.


    The three of you who have spoken here may be the only people in America who think this way. I can remember a couple with a reservation who demanded that I buy their entire dinner because the only available table for them was a table, not a booth. Didn't I know that tables were inferior, and since they had a reservation my host should have had ESP and known that they would only sit in a booth???

    Needless to say, I did not buy their meal. I gave them two options A) sit on time at the table which we'd held for them, or B) wait for the next available booth which would have been ten to fifteen minutes tops. I even offered to take care of cocktails for them at the bar while they waited.

    They declined both, called the corporate offices and complained to a flabbergasted administrative assistant. They were ultimately given gift cards to return -- and (as of when I quit) still refused to sit at a table. The in me always wanted to show them to a table even when there were booths available just from the sheer hilarity of their indignation but I never did. I just fantasized about it.

    I'm so happy to be in the accounting world again; I may have been a good restaurant manager, but I definitely didn't enjoy it.
    #15
    pcdiva
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/13 17:50:15 (permalink)
    I'm a table fan, myself!!! I do fit in most booths, but as a tall (5'11")Big Beautiful Woman, I find tables much more comfortable. As does my Aunt who is a "normal" size, but has limited mobility in her legs so booths are a nightmare for her.

    What is so special about a booth anyway???? privacy?

    I have also run into the can't seat your party until it is complete nonsense. The only place it makes any sense at all is an all you can eat buffet where you pay on the way in, and it isn't that big a deal in those situations.
    I doubt I would have gone back to the first place though. Too likely to escalate into a really ugly situation for the little bit of satisfaction.
    #16
    nvb
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/13 19:11:14 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by pcdiva

    I have also run into the can't seat your party until it is complete nonsense. The only place it makes any sense at all is an all you can eat buffet where you pay on the way in, and it isn't that big a deal in those situations.


    I don't have that policy, but I can see that it would create problems when your friends are an hour late and you've got 3 of my tables tied up waiting for them. I pay my bills by using tables, not having them set idle.
    #17
    -Tricky-
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/13 21:17:21 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by wheregreggeats.com

    Our host was embarrassed to her 18 guests, when unhappy, she has a right to articulate (dramatize) it to the people that caused it.



    I might argue that the restaurant hostess has the right to be treated with the respect due an adult doing her job to the best of her ability, within the constraints set by her supervisors, but I would of course be wrong.
    #18
    UncleVic
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/13 21:18:01 (permalink)
    I'm with Al and Dreamzpainter... What gives with some of them booths? I'm guessing they where designed, modeled and tested in China where the average weight is like 100lbs...
    #19
    bassrocker4u2
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/14 06:41:01 (permalink)
    the seating policies should be made to bend, given different situations. hostess should either keep floor manager close, or be able to make decisions that are proper and prudent. if a single person walks in during a rush and exclaims that they have a party of 20, space should be set up for that party, period. if you have a ton of people waiting at the door for a seat, and they see all those available(for a party that hasnt arrived) then you have a problem. first, i would not have reserved a spot close to the front door. second, i would have had the server put water pitchers and anything else available on the table to make it look more like it was being in use, not just reserved. third, i would have made the singular person exclaiming of a twenty top party wait for ten minutes to insure room for other patrons( rule of thumb.....40 seats avail when seating 20).
    another way is to have available reserved signs on table.
    but i would never, never exclaim the party had to be present! even if that is the policy, i would find other ways to stall, or break the policy.
    as far as seating parties close to each other in an otherwise empty dining room, one must remember, servers are generally given sections of about a half dozen tables. during slow times, the rest may cut down to one server who is still using the same 6 tables.
    the host should be more aware of proximity atmosphere complications and seat accordingly.

    #20
    tmiles
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/14 14:15:53 (permalink)
    Some people and places help you, and some don't. I also prefer a chair with a larger table. I went with 3 others to an almost empty retaurant/bar today for lunch. The lady working the restaurant side said (without us asking) "I'm gonna give you a table for 6 so you can spread out". It was the start of an experience that only got better. And yes, for you efficiency experts, by the time we left, she could have used the 6 place had she jammed us into a corner.
    #21
    Caramel Copper
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/14 21:55:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Slick

    quote:
    Originally posted by pcdiva

    I have also run into the can't seat your party until it is complete nonsense. The only place it makes any sense at all is an all you can eat buffet where you pay on the way in, and it isn't that big a deal in those situations.


    I don't have that policy, but I can see that it would create problems when your friends are an hour late and you've got 3 of my tables tied up waiting for them. I pay my bills by using tables, not having them set idle.


    #22
    Raine
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    RE: Restaurant Seating 2005/07/15 08:13:10 (permalink)
    We only have tables at our joint.
    #23
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