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Jan 20, 2007 01:44 PM

La Viola - Inconsiderate and greedy? [moved from Pennsylvania board]

Whew, I’m glad last night was over. We had a surprise dinner party planned for a friend’s 40th birthday party. We settled on the location as recommended by those on this site. La Viola BYOB was the definite choice to host our party of 15. I called a couple weeks ago for availability and to book the reservation. I was referred to their new restaurant across the street that would be more than willing to accommodate our large party. I spoke with a gentleman, who I presume was the owner. I requested Friday night at 8pm. He hesitated....then took a long pause and said, “How about 9pm?” I said, “No, we would like the reservation for 8pm.” He said, “Possibly 8:30pm?” I said no again and was adamant about having that time for our reservation. I hung up the phone, content that I had a place booked, though had a feeling it wasn’t going to go as I planned.

I called again a week later to confirm the reservation, this time speaking to a woman. I confirmed the number of 15 and the time for 8pm. Again, there was another attempt to talk me out of the 8pm reservation. I explained that it was for a surprise party and that we would like the table ready.

Yesterday, 4 hours before the reservation, I called again, spoke to the same gentleman who booked the reservation, and confirmed our party and time.

With the uneasiness of the reservation, I decided to have our party meet at 7:00pm at the Brasserie Perrier, with the birthday girl coming at 7:30. Our plan was now to surprise her there and then head over to the restaurant.

Everything went as planned at the Brasserie. One person did not show up, so we were down to 14. Everyone was on time, so at 7:45, my boyfriend and I left and went to La Viola, leaving the entire party waiting at the Brasserie. We got there and the hostess said our table would be ready and asked where the rest of our party was. I told her they were right around the corner waiting for our sense in having their tiny foyer overflowing with people. So she told me that we wouldn’t be seated until everyone was there. I called my friends and the party promptly shifted to La Viola........where there was no table to be found.

We waited and waited, very impatiently, with the hostess saying 5 more minutes, 5 more minutes. Finally at 8:45 my friend asked to speak to the owner or manager. The gentleman came up, apologized for the wait and then proceeded in telling me that whoever took the reservations over the phone, made a mistake. Funny thing is, I know it was him that actually took the reservation, since I recognized his accent. Honestly, from that point on, I don’t know how they did it, but within 5 minutes we were seated. I think they asked diners who were seated too long that they had to leave.

Now for the table......try fitting 14 people at a table that only sat 12. There weren’t enough seats! No seats....and they had no room to move another table to seat us. My boyfriend and I crammed in at the end, sharing about 15 inches of the table space. At this point, I couldn’t even tell you about the food. I was too irate and worried my plate was going to fall into my lap, since I was delicately balancing it on the edge of the table.

Now, please know, I realize BYOB’s are not always ideal for larger parties though do not commit to a party size that you can’t handle. The owner again apologized and said they can’t really do large parties.....funny thing, as I went to the bathroom and there was a party of 20 and another party of 12 in the back room.

What I am so angry about is that I called 3 times to confirm this reservation....3 times!!!!! What time did we get seated? 9pm....9pm! Exactly the time THEY wanted to seat us. So if you think dining out is all about the consumer, think again.

Will I go back? I doubt it. I am really upset with the place. They knew exactly what they were doing when I booked this reservation and they knew exactly what time they were planning on seating us. To me that is just inconsiderate, rude and greedy as a restaurant owner.

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  1. Geez, I'm sorry to hear that. There is really no excuse for the way you were treated, especially since you called them multiple times to confirm. I've sworn off places that didn't treat me half as badly as that.

    This was the new branch of La Viola, on the same side of the street as Monk's, correct?

    1. Sounds like a bummer. Many restuarants seems to have a problem dealing with bigger parties. I have been dissppointed so many times over the years that I really hesitate to book a party of more than 6 unless I have really good confidence that the restaurant can handle it.

      In your case, their original hesitance to book the 8PM time was probably a warning sign that they weren't confident. From my own experience, I would have bailed out at that point instead of pressuring them to agree to a time that they weren't really comfortable with.

      Now it certainly is their fault for a agreeing to a time that wasn't going to work, but ultimately your party sufferred.

      1. It sounds to me like they knew when you first called that they wouldn't have a table of that size available at 8:00. You insisted anyway, refusing 9:00 and 8:30 reservations.

        They shouldn't have booked the reservation, but rather than greedy and inconsiderate, it's more likely that they were trying to accomodate a demanding customer.

        4 Replies
        1. re: coolgeek

          While Hellolaura would have been wise to "read between the lines" and realize early on that they were hedging about the time commitment, it is entirely upon the restaurant to be honest and follow through with a reservation of that size.

          Restaurants tell people "no" all the time when they can't accommodate a reservation. Greedy, perhaps, insonsiderate, definitely. Extremely unprofessional.

          1. re: george2

            Coolgeek, I wasn't a demanding customer. My initial call to the restaurant was to inquire about reservations and they SAID they could accomodate our party, so I booked the place. If they couldn't accomodate us at 8pm, I would have called another place. Plain and simple. What they did was lead me to believe we would be accomodated and what they did was not accomodate us at all. Inconsiderate and greedy in my book. They just wanted as much business as possible.

          2. re: coolgeek

            It seems to me that they knew perfectly well they couldn't accommodate her, but told her they could anyway so they could fill the table at 9 pm and get paid. It is incumbent on the restaurant to tell the customer that they just can't accommodate them at a certain time, not on the customer to read between the lines.

            1. re: Buckethead

              Agreed. They knew that the group would wait, because once you've got 14 people together, you're not going to look for other options.

              At 8pm, it's harder to fill those tables for a cycle earlier in the evening than it is at 8:30-9pm.

          3. I'm surprised that they agreed to take a reservation for your group at 8 pm. In August, tried booking a party at La Viola for 25 people at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday night and was told that they could not accommodate us until 9 pm. After reading your post, I'm glad that they were so candid with me. (I chose Monte Carlo Living Room instead and had a wonderful meal.)

            1. The handwriting was all over the wall. Which is why you tried to reconfirm your reservation, what 4 times. You insisted on that restaurant and a specific time, yet even thought every instinct should have told you it was not going to work. Then you feign surprize when your not accomodated correctly???

              3 Replies
              1. re: shoeman

                Bottom line is La Viola said they could accomodate and they did not. The end result is that a special night was ruined and that my friend, is unacceptable.

                1. re: Tonyjlive

                  You were accomodated. Accomodated about as well as any reasonable person should have expected to be accomodated after you made the intial reservation. You bullied your way into a restaurant that gave you about every warning sign that this was going to be a stretch for them. They tried thier best. But, then when things don't go perfect, you complain?

                  1. re: shoeman

                    Then they should have just said, "We're sorry, but we cannot take your party at that time."