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Is it ever okay to be moved in the middle of a meal?

Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 08:10 PM

Not every meal can be perfect. Things are going to happen that are beyond our control. However one of my biggest peeves is being moved while in the middle of dining.

The other day a group of five of us were eating. We had run up a decent size bill. When the deserts were to came out they were not brought to us but placed on a table half way down the restaurant next to the band. The manager simply stood there waving us over. No ‘please’, ‘excuse me’ or ‘would you mind’. No one offered to help us with our coats and bags. And no nothing was compt I was expecting at least a tea out of it. It turns out he simply wanted our table to accommodate a larger group. To me this was totally unacceptable. I won’t go back to that place.

Another time mid way through my meal I was asked to change tables to accommodate some people who had come in with a stroller. As there were plenty of other tables I thought that perhaps the restaurant staff could have made a little effort and moved things around instead of just moving me. I was a little irritated but figured why not take the high road.

Is it ever okay to be moved in the middle of a meal? If so should the restaurant make amends?

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  1. PeterL RE: Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 08:23 PM

    First instance, totally unacceptable. Second instance, perhaps with an explanation. As you said, take the high road.

    1. c
      chow_gal RE: Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 08:45 PM

      I would have thrown a fit over the first instance. Just plain tacky.

      The second would not illicit a fit, but I surely wouldn't move. The staff should have been inconvenienced to move a few tables about - or even the stroller party - not you!

      1 Reply
      1. re: chow_gal
        LindaWhit RE: chow_gal Oct 23, 2006 09:08 PM

        Agree on both.

      2. gina RE: Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 08:47 PM

        Unless there is something wrong with your table, or you offer to move on your own, no, never in the middle of your meal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gina
          s
          SarahEats RE: gina Oct 23, 2006 10:48 PM

          Exactly. Unless it's your choice to move, I can't see why you should be asked to move after you've been seated. It isn't the diner's fault that the restaurant can't work out it's seating plan.

        2. h
          Hungry Celeste RE: Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 09:14 PM

          Both instances are seriously uncool, IMHO. The stroller thing really bothers me...I will happily stand or move my table to accomodate a person in a wheelchair or scooter, but a kid in a stroller isn't the same thing. The stroller isn't a necessity, but a convenience for the parents. If you can't hold the child throughout your meal or won't/can't use a restaurant-provided high chair or booster seat, then you should request a table where your cadillac-escalade sized kid karrier doesn't become a nuisance. Don't mark me as a child-hater, just a hater of the ridiculously oversized stroller...they're my current pet peeve...I find myself boxed in by the damn things at every turn! Get a Snugli or kiddy backpack and stop hogging the floor space! Whew, I feel better now.

          1. s
            Seattle Rose RE: Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 09:55 PM

            The only time I was ever asked to move because the restaurant needed the table for a larger party, they apologized profusely and comped us an after dinner drink. I thought that was acceptable.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Seattle Rose
              MMRuth RE: Seattle Rose Oct 23, 2006 10:54 PM

              I agree, under those circumstances ... lingering, being politely asked as to move, in a way that indicates that I actually have a choice, with no churlishness.

            2. MSPD RE: Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 10:10 PM

              The other posters have pretty much hit the nail. #1 is flat-out odd and #2 is just mildly bothersome (and I'm a stroller pushing father of three, including a two week-old).

              On a humorous side note, we have a place here in Minneapolis called Al's Breakfast. The whole place is about the size of a Winnebago -- a counter, a line of 14 stools and a line of people standing/waiting for spots one foot behind the stools. When stools open up, you're constantly shuffled one way or another to accommodate the size parties waiting -- there is virtually NEVER an open stool. Last winter I was in there on a busy Saturday and started out at a stool right in the middle of the 14. By the end of my breakfast, I had been moved enough times that I finished my meal on the second stool in from the door. I had to have my coat handed down to me when I was ready to leave.

              Here's a photo someone has on the web to give you an idea:

              http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterme/...

              Note, I've never seen the place this empty. There's always a line of people standing behind you waiting for a spot.

              1. g
                Griller RE: Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 10:15 PM

                Move? After being seated to dine? Never. Never. Never, ever.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Griller
                  a
                  Atahualpa RE: Griller Oct 23, 2006 10:46 PM

                  And if asked to, I say no. I have never been asked again.

                2. jfood RE: Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 11:20 PM

                  "Excuse me sir would you mind..." That starts the discussion. I have the right to say No Thank You without any reason given, my sole discretion.

                  The first scenario rings of "Are you kidding". I would never move for the dessert with a wave. I'd be hanging at the original table at my leisure chatting (check will get dusty in the check presenter) if he treated me like that.

                  Second scenario brings up a few more data points required. Does the little tyke look like he's out like a light for the meal or is he stuck in his four-point hold him in place seat belt as a means for the parents to enjoy their meal while the rest of the resto suffer through the screaming banchee. Depending on the circumstances I may be "Man of the Year" in the resto if i refuse and the screamer has to leave.

                  DW would eventually make me move for the stroller so who am I kidding but I'd probably resent the intrusion and the re-lo package is never very good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jfood
                    Michele4466 RE: jfood Oct 24, 2006 01:13 AM

                    I had the same reaction to scenario #1... "Are you f'in kidding me" to be exact!

                    I hope you have sent a letter to/called the owner to discuss your poor treatment. If it was me, I would not let it go without some sort of action on my part, though you never know if they will care considering the boorish behavior by the resto manager.

                    Please let us know if you do follow up.

                    As for scenario two: As nice and accomodating as I am, this was also unacceptable and you should have declined politely. If there were plenty of other tables, the last resort should have been asking you to move, especially during the meal.

                  2. j
                    jenn RE: Withnail42 Oct 23, 2006 11:59 PM

                    I was moved once at a favorite small place. They had a large party coming in, we were taking longer than expected and they comp'd us dessert, coffee and digestives. I thought it was GREAT!!!!

                    And I have eatten in the sort of place with a counter where you try to slide your seat to accommodate a larger group because thats just the nice thing to do--I have both slid and been slidden for [is that a word?].

                    But what you described is neither of those that scenarios and I think it is quite unacceptable.

                    blech, I would not return.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jenn
                      LindaWhit RE: jenn Oct 24, 2006 12:49 PM

                      Ditto on the places where you're asked to move (i.e., at a bar) to accommodate a party so they can sit. I don't mind that at all, and have been asked to slide (or had people "slidden" for me and my party to sit).

                      But asked to be moved from a TABLE once the meal has begun? No way, no how.

                    2. h
                      HillJ RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 12:05 AM

                      ..and how about the people who expected the restaurant to accommodate them and re-move you? while we're busy getting mad at the establishment (and I agree on point) we should not excuse the fact the people are by nature caught up in their own good time, with little thought to others.

                      I can't imagine asking someone to move or to intrude upon a party already dining when I arrive.

                      Courtesy cuts both ways!

                      1. s
                        Steven T RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 12:17 AM

                        I have been in the restaurant business for more than twenty years. Asking someone to move from their table once the meal has begun is never ok, and a guest should never be expected to comply. On very rare occasions, if guests have long finished their meals and are drinking and chatting, I have offered to buy them a round if they would be willing to move to the bar/lounge area. Even this move is strictly a last resort, and if they didn't want to take me up on my offer that would be the end of it, I would never push the issue. Asking a guest to move once they have been seated except in the rarest of circumstances is unproffesional and inhospitable.

                        1. Davwud RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 01:07 AM

                          I've been moved. It was for no other reason than they needed access to vent or something that my seat was in the way of.
                          Very apologetic. Very generous with the comps. Very happy to comply.

                          As noted above, "The first scenario rings of "Are you kidding"." I would've continued to wave back. When I was TOLD I was being moved, I would've suggested that perhaps it was time for us to leave.

                          DT

                          1. w
                            WineTravel RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 01:31 AM

                            Its too complicated to into detail about when/why/how conditions could warrant moving a table and how it should be handled. Although it should never happen, there are times when you can understand why they need to ask. If that should ever happen it should always be the customers option to comply... and if so, the customer should be "taken care of" for being disturbed... the situation would dictate the amt of "compensation".... anything from a round of drinks or bottle of wine, comped deserts, or even the total check being comped.

                            Thankfully, its rare that a table needs to or is asked to be moved.

                            In your case, the way it was handled was totally unaceptable and you have a right to be angry. This place obviously doesn't care about its customers. Unless you know it was the owner of the place who directed the move (meaning its absentee ownership or a chain) I'd write to the owner and explain what happened. Unless they also don't care (the owner prob does) you will probably get invited back as the owner's guest (or some other form of compensation like a gift certificate). Do this even if you don't want to go back as the owner should know how poor a job management is doing for them.

                            1. chica RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 03:01 AM

                              LoL. This reminds me of that "I Love Lucy" show where Lucy had her entire unit of four move to the window, then felt a draft and switched seats with Ricky...only, of course, she chose to move, and it was prior to the food arriving.

                              To answer your question, no, it is never okay to be moved in the middle of the meal. What's worse is how the manager approached you -- from across the other end of the room with the desserts, waving you over! We're not animals that need to be enticed with food! I'm glad you're not returning. But, I think you should at least write or otherwise let the manager or restaurant owner know of the incident and your feelings. Otherwise, this issue and the ensuing conversation will only rise again in regards to this place, and some other patron will turn its back on it.

                              1. Brian S RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 04:02 PM

                                "Never, never, never, never, never!"
                                -- King Lear, Act V, Scene 3

                                King Lear, a Chowhound play in a fashion, since the poor King is destroyed because he doesn't recognize the value of good, high-quality salt. But even Shakespeare's devilish imagination didn't encompass telling the King to change tables!!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Brian S
                                  h
                                  HillJ RE: Brian S Oct 24, 2006 04:04 PM

                                  What a delicious reply!

                                  1. re: HillJ
                                    Brian S RE: HillJ Oct 24, 2006 05:04 PM

                                    Thank you!

                                    I should add that, if I'm eating alone at an informal restaurant, and am given a big table because it's the only one available, and then a small table becomes vacant, I immediately volunteer to move.

                                2. Das Ubergeek RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 05:23 PM

                                  Number 1 is just completely unacceptable. I wouldn't have acknowledged the wave in the slightest, and if the manager had pressed it further, I would have left (without paying for the dessert, whether they were plated or not, because they weren't delivered to us), tipped the server directly (assuming he wasn't in on the plot) and not returned. I might also have been tempted to cause a scene... "No, thank you, we're quite comfortable here with our dinners."

                                  Number 2, well, at the risk of sounding like Robert Lauriston... the restaurants we tend to eat at where table moving would be an issue don't allow strollers at the table, they're parked near the coat check where they belong.

                                  1. AmblerGirl RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 05:30 PM

                                    Unacceptable! I was at a nice restaurant with some friends a few years back. We had the fixed price menu, which included dessert. Apparantly, the restaurant became a comedy club after hours. Because of some slow service, we were still having dinner at 10 PM when the comedy show started. The manager made us pay $20 a person (cover charge) to stay and finish our meal. We complained, of course, and refused to pay. We were basically ignored the rest of the meal. And were stuck listening to some bad comedy (we couldn't finish our conversation). Not exactly the same situation but similar, and very frustrating!

                                    1. Glencora RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 06:28 PM

                                      There's a funny Fawlty Towers episode in which the John Cleese character constantly makes the guests in his restaurant switch tables. Of course, he's the most rude and arrogant host ever. That's the point. Unacceptable.

                                      1. s
                                        soupkitten RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 06:28 PM

                                        I agree with the other posters-- being moved is NEVER okay, unless I'm sitting at Al's & need to slide for MSPD's party-- GAWD I LOVE AL's!!! don't go on saturday, don't go after 9:30 AM, & don't go with a party of 3 or more unless you're willing to be split up but if you're in Minneapolis GO THERE world's best diner breakfast!

                                        okay sorry: here's a story about a much nicer MPLS restaraunt, Manny's Steakhouse. When DH & I were just "kinda dating," he was a waiter, i a bartender. one holiday season i bought a truck from a gentleman (i'd previously had no car), then took DH holiday shopping with the rest of my savings. it was a long day & we happened to be wretchedly hung over--LOL different story! I offered to take DH out to eat for being my patient shopping partner all day-- he politely named some inexpensive restaraunts, but I told him I wanted a steak-- we brainstormed names of local steakhouses & decided to go to Manny's because neither of us had ever been (of course it is the priciest place in town, but we didn't know: young, dumb)

                                        okay: we were a little underdressed for Manny's (no crime) and about 15 years younger than the rest of the clientele. We were seated in the less formal "bar area" which (before the smoking ban) encouraged patrons to purchase cigars from the establishment-- READ: people lingering over a good meal & good smoke, occupying their tables for a couple of hours. When the staff came around with a cart carrying slabs of meat & live lobsters, I figured out I wasn't getting out of the place cheap!

                                        Our waiter was too polite to be rude to us, but I think he expected us to check out the prices & leave. His attitude quickly changed when we spoke about the wine list and made our selection. He became very nice. Then we each ordered our starters, steaks (rare and expensive), & sides. While dining, we noticed that the maitre d' watching us with a look of disapproval (we both have very good table manners, were not loud or drunk, & were not doing anything besides enjoying ourselves and running up a helluva tab). At the end of our meal, our nice waiter asked us what else we would like, so we ordered black coffee, a dessert to split, old single malts, & dominican cigars. He hadn't even gotten to the wait-station when the maire d' came over with a fake smile, asking us if we'd enjoyed our meal. we replied that we had, thanks. he asked if he could get our coats for us! DH told him that we were not leaving yet, & had just ordered dessert. The maire d' got visibly upset & blustered that he needed our table & could he move us nearer the door. our waiter returned with the coffee, & we told him to hold the drinks, we'd been asked to move & would be leaving now-- the waiter looked at the maitre d' as if he was insane & also the rudest man alive. They had some words near the bar, & the nice lady next to us with her husband leaned over & told us she'd never seen such a thing in the 20 years they'd been frequenting the place. "They're discriminating against you two, and it upsets me," she said.

                                        that's what it comes down to, that disrupting a party's enjoyment of their meal & time together is so rude it should be unheard of. it's insulting and is the exact opposite of hospitable behavior. That's why people get so upset. When someone in the hospitality industry absolutely MUST ask someone to move to accomodate another guest, they should be extremely polite, apologetic, & acknowledge that they are disrupting the party's pleasant time, which they are, after all, paying for. & yes desserts or a round of cocktails comped off the bill is STANDARD in the industry when an establishment moves a table mid-meal. if there is a good reason to move a table, and everyone is polite, then most folks will be reasonable about it. People with the manners & social behavior of the mgr in #1 should never ever be allowed to interact with an establishment's customers, because they are extremely bad for business.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: soupkitten
                                          s
                                          S U RE: soupkitten Oct 26, 2006 05:43 PM

                                          oh wow, what an experience... reminds me of an experience I've had. Was out with a group of college girlfriends at an upscale Chinese restaurant for one gal's birthday. We were all dressed neatly. Due to scheduling restraints, we arrived at the restaurant just before 6, when it was still pretty empty. By the time we ordered, the manager had siddled on over, standing just a table away and watching us out of the corner of his eye. Although there was no obvious/overt actions, by the time we finished our dinner there were 3 employees "surrounding" our table -- the manager and 2 waiters. The restaurant had become half-filled by this time, but they kept watching us. Made me feel like a bum wandering in a store with all those eyes on us. They were pretty amazed when we asked for our bill and promptly paid; I think they thought we would make a dash for the door when they weren't looking.

                                          Makes a great "Please don't ever frequent our dining establishment again, and spread the word to your friends -- they will be treated with the same courtesy" statement. Which is what I did.

                                          I applaud the OP for posting about the experiences here; and give a standing ovation to "I won’t go back to that place."

                                        2. s
                                          slacker RE: Withnail42 Oct 24, 2006 08:50 PM

                                          No to no. 1. And No to no. 2 too. If the party with the stroller had to have my table, they could wait until I am finished.

                                          1. amandine RE: Withnail42 Oct 25, 2006 01:26 AM

                                            wow. WOW. i cannot believe they did that to you. ABSOLUTELY NOT ACCEPTABLE on so many levels.

                                            Please go to your local board and post this story there too!

                                            1. d
                                              Dave Feldman RE: Withnail42 Oct 25, 2006 05:42 AM

                                              I must be aberrant. Maybe it would be different if I were having an important business meeting or popping the question, I'd refuse to move. But in normal circumstances, hanging out with friends or family, if our moving could help out other patrons or the restaurant itself, what's the big problem?

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                Karl S RE: Dave Feldman Oct 25, 2006 11:28 AM

                                                Because helping out other patrons or the restaurant itself is not the role of a restaurant guest, and cooperating in the lowering of standards of hospitality eventually ruins things for *other* guests.

                                                1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                  Michele4466 RE: Dave Feldman Oct 25, 2006 12:51 PM

                                                  My feeling is that the way the restaurant handled the situation was terrible. Scenario #1 To wave the customer over and place the desserts they ordered on another table is so far out of the lines of okay, you cannot even see the line. Someone in another post described it to be as if you were calling a dog, and I agree. It makes me so angry that the OP actually went and sat and PAID for everything. I am hoping they took some post-action.

                                                  Scenario #2 There COULD be a polite and hospitable way to handle this... we do not know the lay out of the resto so we do not have all the facts, however, off the top of my head, it is wrong. Strollers belong in the coat check.

                                                  1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                    Das Ubergeek RE: Dave Feldman Oct 25, 2006 01:32 PM

                                                    Because standing far away and gesturing and waving instead of coming over, explaining the situation, and accepting whatever answer you get is just plain rude, and I don't mean maybe. I mean, come on, he might as well have whistled and said, "Here, boy, do you want a nice biscuit?"

                                                  2. r
                                                    ricepad RE: Withnail42 Oct 25, 2006 02:30 PM

                                                    I would have ignored the waving idiot (or maybe I would have waved back, depending on my mood) and waited patiently (at least for a bit) for my dessert to arrive AT MY TABLE. The waving would have started the mental countdown tip clock, and the longer the wait for dessert, the more the tip clock would count down. When the tip clock got to zero - it would not have taken long, frankly, because the waving really puts the big hurt on the starting tip amount - I'd have asked for the check for what we ate, make sure we were not billed for the desserts that never arrived at our table, paid EXACTLY, and left, never to darken their door again.

                                                    In the second instance, I might have moved, again depending on my mood. I, too, would have felt irritated by it, and would have let the manager know that in his staff's quest for laziness, they imposed upon a paying guest unnecessarily.

                                                    To answer the OP directly, there are times when it may be ok to ask a guest to move mid-meal, but neither of these examples fit that bill. And the restaurant should ALWAYS make amends somehow, unless they're not concerned with repeat business.

                                                    1. d
                                                      Dave Feldman RE: Withnail42 Oct 25, 2006 04:16 PM

                                                      I'm sorry if my post implied that I condoned the manager in #1, who was rude.

                                                      I just wanted to indicate that not every customer is traumatized at the prospect of moving. If you are asked politely, in circumstances where it isn't inconveniencing you, what is the big problem.

                                                      We ask restaurants for "favors," such as the ability to linger at a table, after we are through with our meals. No bells go off when our time is up, so goodwill, courtesy, and a little empathy should rule.

                                                      Of course we have the "right" to refuse to change the table. We can argue whether the parents with a stroller have any more of a right to a particular table than anyone else. I'd argue probably not. But it wouldn't occur to me to refuse to move before dessert if I was eating a non-special meal with friends and family. It'll make the other party happy, and the restaurant happy, and will take 30 seconds. What's the big deal?

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                        k
                                                        KTinNYC RE: Dave Feldman Oct 25, 2006 09:18 PM

                                                        Dave, I completely agree. I'm not sure why so many people on these boards expect service to be perfect everytime. The number of complaints and gripes lead me to believe that most people expect a level of service in restaurants higher than in any other industry.

                                                        1. re: KTinNYC
                                                          Karl S RE: KTinNYC Oct 25, 2006 10:41 PM

                                                          No, just basic courtesy that was once expected without question.

                                                          1. re: KTinNYC
                                                            Seth Chadwick RE: KTinNYC Oct 26, 2006 01:50 AM

                                                            I think there is a big difference between service being perfect and service being acceptable. Waving someone over to a table as a gesture to get them to move for the convenience of the restaurant is incredibly bad form.

                                                            I don't think that people expect a higher level of service at restaurants than they do, say, with airlines. After all, it is federal law in the U.S. that you get compensation if an airline bumps you and can't get you to your destination within two hours. Is expecting a comp on desserts and a very sincere and apologetic request too much to ask?

                                                            1. re: Seth Chadwick
                                                              k
                                                              KTinNYC RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 26, 2006 02:22 PM

                                                              The complaints about service on this board are never ending and in my mind often niggling. Seth you're a regular and I'm sure you've read the same post I have. The complaints include, 'I took a fork off another table and the the waiter walked over and replaced the fork without saying anything to me. Was this rude?', 'I can't believe the waiter looked inside the credit card sleeve in my presence'. I can list dozens more and I just can't believe people are so self concious to let these tiny acts 'ruin' their meal.

                                                              I understand being asked to move during a meal is more extreme than the cases I've mentioned but if I am with friends and between courses are lingering I wouldn't be incredibly upset. These service issues are so much different than the example you gave about airlines. It would be if people complained about hitting turbulence or that the pilot wasn't friendly enough when he went on mike to welcome them aboard. I can just see what those post would look like, 'I flew XYZ Airline and the pilot didn't even tell me what the local temperature was when I landed. Should I have written a letter to the chairman?'

                                                              1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                Seth Chadwick RE: KTinNYC Oct 26, 2006 05:27 PM

                                                                KT,

                                                                I am well aware of what you are pointing out and often have to grin and bear some of the questions/concerns raised. I do think in this example, though, a lot of the concern could have been vanquished by a soft tone, a sincere appeal and the loss of the waving to a table.

                                                                But your point is well taken.

                                                          2. re: Dave Feldman
                                                            r
                                                            ricepad RE: Dave Feldman Oct 25, 2006 09:43 PM

                                                            In the OP, both times the diner was being inconvenienced. Both times, it was the RESTAURANT that was being spared the inconvenience. Clearly, in the second scenario, the restaurant is taking the easy way out: "....the restaurant staff could have made a little effort and moved things around instead...." Who is the customer here?

                                                            1. re: ricepad
                                                              d
                                                              Dave Feldman RE: ricepad Oct 26, 2006 03:28 AM

                                                              I'm not arguing that the restaurant isn't asking you for a favor. I'm not arguing that you should be pressured to move.

                                                              My point is much more basic. I'm arguing that more often than not, I wouldn't consider it an inconvenience to move to another table. We're talking about standing and walking 5-50 feet. Maybe I've been lucky, but the times I've been asked to move, it's never bene at a crucial time in a conversation or in the middle of a course. I've been asked by restaurant workers and in informal places, by customers. Maybe I'm crazy, but it's made me feel better rather than worse to know that I've solved minor problems for others, and sacrificed absolutely nothing. If anything, I've been treated with disproportionate gratitude.

                                                            2. re: Dave Feldman
                                                              hatless RE: Dave Feldman Dec 2, 2006 01:32 PM

                                                              Hallelujah. Sometimes, reading threads on here about service, it's like people are administering a test, in which any violation of a byzantine set of mental rules raises blood pressure and results in a penalty. If a plate is served from the wrong side, tip decreases by X. If the server doesn't make enough eye contact, s/he's docked 3 points. If the server makes too much eye contact, s/he's docked 4 points. Didn't bring water quickly enough, brought water when s/he shouldn't have...

                                                              Yeah, the OP's scenario #1 was rude and weird, particularly because of the wave and the way they brought their desserts to that other table first. But more broadly in the discussion it's not always so cut-and-dried. At some types of restaurants (i.e. the very high end), sure, a baroque standard of ritualized service is part of the package and as such a customer is justified in expecting it, but when did expectations of Louis XIV-era formality trickle down to the neighborhood BYOB? I have a funny feeling the staff at inns, taverns and noodle shops frequented by the middle classes in the 18th Century had no qualms about asking people to move. They'd jam people together at communal tables if they had to, nu?

                                                              Yeah, a hand wave, or moving you without asking first, not good. But this whole blanket "OH MY GOD THEY ASKED US TO MOVE!" rule, what's up with that? If you don't want to, smile, say no, and let go of the rage.

                                                            3. Scrapironchef RE: Withnail42 Oct 25, 2006 04:46 PM

                                                              #1 - Moved you nearer the band? Unless you asked for it or planned on staying to hear them that's strike #1.

                                                              Waved you to a new table? Put your desserts there to lure you over? Strike #2

                                                              No comp for your inconvenience? Strike #3 and I'm outta here never to return.

                                                              #2 - I'm not a child hater, but I do have it in for the self important parent with the first baby ever born in the history of the universe. This child must have a stroller the size of a winnebago with more wheels than a bicycle shop. They must have the most prominent table so that everyone can admire the ultimate child and berate themselves that their own children just aren't that special.

                                                              On the other hand, the little one snoozing in the compact stroller next to the table while two obviously frazzled parents get a meal in quiet is worth my accomodation.

                                                              1. Withnail42 RE: Withnail42 Oct 25, 2006 08:00 PM

                                                                Hi.

                                                                I’m the OP of this post. A number of people have wondered what actions I took. In a word; none. I was a guest at the time that the manager who is the owner waved us over. The hosts didn’t bother to make a fuss. So I figured that it was not my place to start anything. I did make some discreet enquiries afterwards and found that absolutely nothing was compt. And we ate a great deal. The thing which is even odder is that the hosts of this particular dinner are regulars and known by the owner. Nice way to treat the regulars.

                                                                However if I was paying, actions would have been taken and the owner left in no doubt as to my feelings about his bad attitude. I will not go back. I don’t think the hosts have either.

                                                                As for the folks with the stroller, karma compels me to say that they did not ask or even hint at wanting my table. The restaurant took it upon them selves to give it to them. They were apologetic thanked me and were even a little embarrassed.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Withnail42
                                                                  m
                                                                  mclaugh RE: Withnail42 Oct 25, 2006 09:19 PM

                                                                  This may put a somewhat different spin on things.

                                                                  If the hosts are/were regulars and are known by the owner, the relationship may have been such that the owner knew them well enough to know that they wouldn't mind moving.

                                                                  Still would have been appropriate to comp them for the inconvenience, though.

                                                                  1. re: mclaugh
                                                                    Withnail42 RE: mclaugh Oct 25, 2006 09:37 PM

                                                                    He knew them only as customers who (used to) come in every few months or so; certainly not on a social level.

                                                                    1. re: Withnail42
                                                                      m
                                                                      mclaugh RE: Withnail42 Oct 26, 2006 12:10 AM

                                                                      Whether or not a social relationship existed is irrelevant to my point, which is that the owner may have known from past experience with your hosts that they would not mind moving. Whether or not that was indeed the case, the fact that they patroniz(ed) the resto (semi-)regularly is an important datum to be considered in evaluating the owner/manager's action.

                                                                      1. re: mclaugh
                                                                        Withnail42 RE: mclaugh Oct 26, 2006 02:29 AM

                                                                        Like I said he knew that they were previous customers, who in fact were not pleased at being asked to move let alone hearded over. He certainly did not know the rest of us at the table.

                                                                2. e
                                                                  EclecticEater RE: Withnail42 Nov 2, 2006 10:15 PM

                                                                  NO
                                                                  NO
                                                                  NO
                                                                  NO
                                                                  Unless there's a fire or earthquake or tsunami.
                                                                  Can't think of any good reason to be moved once you have the table.

                                                                  1. l
                                                                    Louise RE: Withnail42 Nov 3, 2006 04:26 PM

                                                                    If they ask nicely and/or offer to comp apps or dessert yes. Actually had a situation where I was a guest at a restaurant and the host was in obvious distress due to a large reservation someone had forgotten to write down, doh! He desperately needed our large table. He didn't offer us anything to motivate us to move (stress? inexperience?), but I asked (I can be pretty brazen) if he would comp us desserts, he said yes, and I told my party of ten or so and we moved.

                                                                    Of the two situations mentioned by the OP, no way to either.

                                                                    1. ketchupgirl RE: Withnail42 Dec 1, 2006 10:25 PM

                                                                      When I read your post, I thought you meant emotionally moved by the food you were eating, and therefore, wailing or carrying on so that other diners were uncomfortable. Sorry for your physically being moved--what a pain. Food to "move" you to cry out sounds worth trying though!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: ketchupgirl
                                                                        Glencora RE: ketchupgirl Dec 1, 2006 10:35 PM

                                                                        "Wailing and carrying on..." I can't stop giggling about this.

                                                                      2. w
                                                                        wombat RE: Withnail42 Dec 1, 2006 10:33 PM

                                                                        Once a friend and I were eating at a Oaxacan place in LA and before they brought our food out, they asked us to move because our order would not fit on the small table!

                                                                        It's not as embarassing as it sounds. We ordered a normal amount, but one of the items was a flatbread or tortilla sort of thing that was very thin but basically the size of the whole table - I can't remember what it's called.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: wombat
                                                                          hrhboo RE: wombat Dec 2, 2006 02:05 AM

                                                                          That would be a clayuda, a most magnificent and beauteous thing!

                                                                        2. a
                                                                          asiege2 RE: Withnail42 Dec 1, 2006 11:39 PM

                                                                          Short of natural disaster or medical emergency it's inexcusable.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: asiege2
                                                                            thegolferbitch RE: asiege2 Dec 6, 2006 03:13 PM

                                                                            or the chickens have gotten loose in the kitchen.... I can't think of another acceptable reason....

                                                                          2. Chuckles the Clone RE: Withnail42 Dec 2, 2006 06:23 PM

                                                                            Last night two of us were eating in a semi-popular restaurant. At the bar because
                                                                            that's all that was available. There was a party of two to our right and a single empty
                                                                            stool to our left. When the party of two became a party of three, I suggested to my
                                                                            partner that we move a seat to the left. We shuffled down, the third person in the other
                                                                            party sat down, the bartender noticed and comped us a *large* glass of wine each.

                                                                            This is the only situation I can imagine it being acceptable: voluntary and with a
                                                                            meaningful show of appreciation from the restaurant staff.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                              hrhboo RE: Chuckles the Clone Dec 2, 2006 06:44 PM

                                                                              While it was very sweet and generous of the bartender to comp your wine, I don't think that it's a restaurant's responisibility to reward customers for voluntary gestures of kindness to their fellow diners. It was very considerate of you to move over and let the other party sit together. It's surprising how rarely people are thoughtful enough to do things like that!

                                                                              1. re: hrhboo
                                                                                p
                                                                                Pan RE: hrhboo Dec 2, 2006 09:36 PM

                                                                                I agree that there was no obligation, either explicit or implicit, for the establishment to show you any financial consideration for being a mensh. Being a mensh is its own reward (or should be).

                                                                                1. re: hrhboo
                                                                                  Chuckles the Clone RE: hrhboo Dec 3, 2006 05:27 PM

                                                                                  Of course not. There's never a responsibility to reward gestures of kindness in
                                                                                  any situation. That's what makes the reward, if it happens to happen, actually
                                                                                  worth something.

                                                                                  The comp It was neither "sweet" not "generous". He believed that doing this maximized
                                                                                  potential revenue. Which was probably the correct assumption. The restaurateur in the
                                                                                  original situation believed that his table-switch trick was going to maximize his revenue.
                                                                                  Which was probably incorrect.

                                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                                    p
                                                                                    Pan RE: Chuckles the Clone Dec 3, 2006 10:00 PM

                                                                                    A gesture can be both sweet and generous and also a good business practice that is calculated to be likely to promote one's bottom line. I see no contradiction.

                                                                                    1. re: Pan
                                                                                      s
                                                                                      soupkitten RE: Pan Dec 6, 2006 03:04 PM

                                                                                      yes.

                                                                              2. a
                                                                                andlulu RE: Withnail42 Dec 3, 2006 12:25 AM

                                                                                Once a table starts to eat - they stay there, unless something has happened that would discourage the diners themselves, not to sit at that table.

                                                                                1. c
                                                                                  Cecile16 RE: Withnail42 Dec 3, 2006 01:52 AM

                                                                                  Situation one is simply unbelievable. I would have ignored the waiter or pretended that I thought he was "waving" to someone else.

                                                                                  For the second situation, why did the family need a stroller? As stroller is for walking. The baby should have been seated in a high chair. An exception would be for a handicapped child, of course.

                                                                                  Personally, what I'd do in the second situation is move without saying a word and do it very slowly. And then, leave no tip.

                                                                                  1. s
                                                                                    scoot RE: Withnail42 Dec 3, 2006 01:56 AM

                                                                                    When my folks first moved out here to LA, we went to Valentino, a very pricey and highly rated restaurant in Santa Monica. About halfway through, we were moved to a side table to make for another party. Maybe they were regulars or big shots, who knows? They comped us for dessert to make up for it. It didn't bother me too much, but ten years later, my parents absolutely refuse to return to that place.

                                                                                    1. w
                                                                                      WineWidow RE: Withnail42 Dec 4, 2006 11:01 PM

                                                                                      No. Totally unacceptable and frankly I can't believe how many stories there are of this happening!

                                                                                      1. wleatherette RE: Withnail42 Dec 4, 2006 11:22 PM

                                                                                        we had to move tables at a popular fusion-y japanese restaurant in l.a. because rod stewart and his party "needed" our table. since i wasn't hosting the meal i was more amused about the situation than annoyed, but it was basically a business dinner and if i were the host i would have been fuming (i think she was - we went elsewhere for dessert). no idea if anything was comped to make up for the inconvenience. to this day, i wonder what rod would have done if we had refused to surrender our spot.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: wleatherette
                                                                                          Das Ubergeek RE: wleatherette Dec 6, 2006 02:08 PM

                                                                                          I read this and was having mental video of you refusing, and the waitresses coming and starting to strip the table, and you beating them on the back of the hand, nun-style, with your chopsticks.

                                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                            wleatherette RE: Das Ubergeek Dec 6, 2006 02:56 PM

                                                                                            ha! judging by the look of consternation that crossed our host's face when the maitre d' came over to inform her of our removal, i think that the chopsticks would have been used shiv-style rather than nun-style.

                                                                                        2. z
                                                                                          Zabelle RE: Withnail42 Dec 5, 2006 04:58 AM

                                                                                          It is completely wrong to move anyone in the middle of the meal but you shouldnt take it for granted that all people who dine out understand that seating people follows a certain plan. People will refuse to sit next to other people, even though the place may be small; a table of 2 will ask for a big table (for 4 or more) if they see one; not everyone is reasonable. People will try the weirdest excuses to get what they want, even when dining out for pleasure.
                                                                                          If you have issues being next to other people, dont go into small restaurants on Fridays or Saturdays go to big chains that can actually afford to accomodate one's wildest dreams of sitting in restaurants.

                                                                                          1. chef chicklet RE: Withnail42 Dec 5, 2006 08:54 AM

                                                                                            Obnoxious behavior only to be outdone by stupidity. No I would not of moved if someone tried to coherce me that way.
                                                                                            God awful behavior.

                                                                                            And why in the world would anyone bring their stroller inside a restaurant. If the baby was sleeping why don't the good parents take the child home and put him to bed where he belongs.
                                                                                            I have an 11 month old, so don't think I hate children, I adore them, but not all places are suitable. Especially if the band was playing. Sheesh.

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