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Sep 30, 2006 06:01 PM

Seating preferred or favorite customers before others on the list

We were in a very small Italian restaurant last night where they do not take reservations. I called first- they said absolutely no reservations and you cannot call and put your name on a waiting list.
GOt there at 7. AT 8 we were the next table on the list. Two groups came in and they got a wild reception from the manager who kissed an hugged them-Hi how are you, high fives etc. He spoke to them in a whispe and then I went up to the manager and said"we are next right?" he said not those people are ahead of you. I sai =no they just came in and you are seating them ahead of us because you know them right?? he said- they called a long time ago and put their name on the list. when i told him I tried to do the same and could not he just shrugged his shoulder. He seated both parties ahead of us.
What do you think of this??

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  1. Yeah, it stinks, but a restaurant makes its money on repeat visitors. Good customers are good customers and should be treated well. Democracy is a nice thing, but capitalism is at play.

    1. Sounds like that restaurant does not care for your patronage. Dine elsewhere.

      1. Wondering if the manager is also the owner. I would try to find out and write a letter. To wait an hour, and to have two parties seated ahead of me would make me very angry. Some restaurants that are small and do not take reservations, sometimes do for larger parties. Were these larger parties that could only be accommodated by specific tables? I would try to discover exactly what the rules are, and if this manager does not abide by them, I would consider writing a letter to any local food columnist or critic. You may be doing this restaurant a service, because while restaurants do make money on repeat customers, they sure do make some on first or second timers...who just may become regulars. Right now, I am guessing you aren't considering giving any more money to this establishment. I would not write a threatening type letter, but a letter that expresses disappointment. There are very few restaurants, if any, I would wait an hour to dine at. Just my thoughts.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jesdamala

          Well I know that the owner is Italian and the manager is African American. So, unless he is both he probably is not the owner. No, the groups they took ahead of us were the same # of people as our group. As to preferring regular customers, how does one become a regular if you need to wait 1 1/2 each time. I also recently injured myself and have a cane and I wouldn't have minded so much under usual circumstances.

        2. As a former maitre'd, I can tell you that most restaurants save a table or two for regulars who haven't made reservations and other special drop-in guests.

          As a diner, a few restaurants that I patronize regularly do give me special consideration, privileges that grew gradually over time as I cemented my "regular" status. I try not to abuse this, but it is nice to occasionally get one of those tables on short notice, the odd complimentary plate or glass of wine, etc.

          It doesn't hurt that I tip like a former waiter, bartender, and host, and abide by good-patron-behavior maxims like those outlined in this recent post:

          That said, it's bad hosting practice to wildly mismanage wait times. There's always some unpredictability -- patrons linger endlessly over coffee, etc. -- but an extra hour is a bit much. One of my local favorites, Boston's Franklin Cafe, is always, always packed, yet their hosts manage to quote accurate wait times within about 15 minutes very consistently. It takes skill; they always do a quick scan of the room to see how far through their meals the currently-seated parties are. It probably helps that they don't serve dessert.

          1. Seems short sighted and just inept on their part. Once they were busted being shifty, a comped bottle of wine would have been an ept move.

            There's probably too much here you just don't know. Do some/any/one of those people have money in the place? or the next one? Are they family? Are there other obligations that could not be ignored? If they absolutly had to be "taken care of," you could have been "taken care of" in some way, also. It's not mutually exclusive.