Seating at Betelnut
Perhaps someone can explain this to me.
I was in San Francisco with my gf in March 2005 (yeah, sorry, I would have asked earlier but a friend only recently clued me into this board), and one day we decided to drop in to Betelnut for lunch.
Most tables were occupied, but we still "lucked" out and got a seat along the mirrorer wall. The food was, um, okay. Just okay. My sweetie was seated on the banguette, I was on the chair opposite, back to the bar. The table next to us left and, between courses, I get up to sit next to my companion.
We're not making out or anything; it's simply nice to be able to lean in to each other to talk, without having to raise our voices above the din. This is something we do everywhere. (Heck, at a certain laundry resto a few days before, a waiter came along and asked if we wanted our table re-set so that we could continue sitting together.) So, not two minutes go by, but the manager (I guess) comes over and tells us that we're not allowed to sit together.
The reason? Well, if we sit toghether, then everyone will want to do the same.
So, query: Is this a common policy? And, if so, why?
I don't think it's common policy, but it does make it difficult to seat the tables next to the people who are doing it. Often it crowds the other table, or if the table is not seated it makes it uncomfortable when seating.
It's been a few years since I've been to Betelnut, so I can't say as I recall exactly what the seating's like, but it does make sense that a restaurant would want to discourage seating arrangements that either make other patrons less comfortable (space) or that reduce the total seating capacity (money). HOW they discourage it is another thing entirely. If the space is crowded, and they politely explain that your moving to the banquette creates a problem for them (or for other guests), I think it's within acceptable limits. It's not your home, after all, it's their place of business.
Right or wrong, though..... it's often all about how they communicate.
I agree. If I'd done the same in a crowded restaurant and the server had said "I'm sorry, but we'd like to seat a couple next to you and were wondering if you'd mind moving" I would feel almost bad and move immediately.
In an empty-ish restaurant, or if the server actually said "You're not allowed to sit together" I would have at least complained to the manager.
Oh, I understand about the crowding of other patrons. However, as I mentioned, the table next to us was empty, and we were only sitting together between courses.
That's why we were surprised.
But otherwise, all your responses make sense.