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Reserving a Table -- Do I Have a Gripe?

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During my annual trip visiting mom in Florida, she made a reservation at a fairly upscale downtown restaurant for 7 on a Saturday eve. Our group of five was ready early, so we called to make sure we could be seated early, and arrived shortly before 6:30.

When we entered we were escorted to a table on the main floor near the back that had probably been a four-top, with one end of the rectangular table abutting against a wall window and a fifth seat added on the other end with the chair extending a bit into the flow of traffic. As the others sat, I noticed an empty large circular table in the corner next to us set up for five and empty. I began looking for a staff person to ask if we could move there, and a heavy-set man in a kitchen-type oufit curtly said no, that the vacant table was specifically reserved for his friends, who had specifically requested it.

Well, I was pissed, though my mom thought that it was reasonable for the restaurant to refuse our request if another party had requested that particular table. The hostess did say we could have scouted out another table on the second floor, but this was impossible since one of our party had problems negotiating stairs. The beautiful spacious round table of plenty and majesty remained blissfully vacant for almost our entire meal, until we were finishing our entrees. When what looked like a family with two adults and three mid to late teens was seated, they were greeted effusively by the hostess with hugs and kisses and upon my asking, verified that they did indeed know the ownership and the chef.

So Hounds, do I have a legitimate gripe about our request to move being refused? Or can and should a restaurant not only reserve a table, but a particular prized table?

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  1. no gripe from me, it's good to be the regular!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tee

      Indeed.......it's good to be a regular. There are a couple of places I know we can always get a prime table at a prime time and I make no apologies for it.

    2. I don't think you have a legitimate gripe. If the table was already reserved, why should they give it to you? Restaurants can and should do what they can to cultivate repeat business. Next time you'll know to request that table!

      1. No, you have no gripe- if someone specifically requests a table, they get it if it's available. This ain't McDonalds.

        1. [quote]The beautiful spacious round table of plenty and majesty remained blissfully vacant for almost our entire meal, until we were finishing our entrees. [/quote]

          At which point, what?

          Reverse the situation: you reserved a specific table at a specific time. You show up at the resto a few minutes early, and the hostess says, "I know you have a reservation, but we seated a family at the table you requested earlier. They're finishing their entrees now. If they order dessert, it'll be another 45 minutes to an hour before the table's ready for you. We can seat you at another table, or, if you really want that table, you can wait."

          I'm sure you'd have NO problems with that, would you?

          1 Reply
          1. re: mclaugh

            that is exactly what I was going to say...put yourself in the other patrons shoes...would you have liked it if your table was given away, especially if you were a regular.

          2. the restaurant accomodated you by seating you 30 minutes early. if you'd arrived on time, chances are that other table would have seemed "blissfully vacant" for only a few minutes. they also accomodated this party of regulars by granting them a requested table. sounds to me like management did everything right.

            did you let them know upon reserving one of your party had limited mobility, making the 2nd floor not possible?

            i can't believe you had the audacity to ask the other party if they actually knew the owner. that seems a terrible invasion of their privacy.

            2 Replies
            1. re: hotoynoodle

              The invasion of privacy struck me too! So what if they know the owner? And who wouldn't enjoy great treatment in a place where one knows the owner?

              1. re: hrhboo

                I have to agree...Did you REALLY ask them if they were, indeed, friends of the owner???
                The first thing that I thought of is the Seinfeld episode in the Chinese Food Restaurant-when Jerry, George and Elaine can't get the table, but everyone else can...