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Mar 30, 2007 03:57 PM

Is Lupa's Attitude Killing it?

i've recommended Lupa dozens of times here...i love the brussels sprouts, the beets, the orcchiette w/ sausage, etc...and i'll stand by the food, both in term of quality and variety...

but the snotty attitude is getting to me...while there are some nice people working there, the average vibe of the staff has started bordering on offensive...a sort of forced-friendliness mixed w/ barely restrained hostility...

Example: i went there a few days ago w/ my gf and her gf and i got there very early w/o a reservation at around 4:45 on a weekday...the place was about 15% full, maximum...we explained to the hostess that my gf's parents were en route in a taxi and would be there momentarily...the hostess gave us a smug look and said that we could wait at the bar...we asked (very politely) if we might sit at a two-top that adjoined another two-top and begin drinking wine, ordering, etc...suddenly the vibe got nasty: she turned icy and told us to please wait at the bar and that she'd "keep us in mind" if a table came open (this with mostly empty tables in the front room, before 5pm)..."Keep us in mind?" -- gee, thanks for letting us dine here, maybe...i was pretty annoyed but we waited at the bar...then when my gf's parents arrived a few minutes later, she told us that only a share table was available...when i commented that much of the front of room was totally empty (i know the restaurant well and i i know that many of those tables are for walk-ins), i got more holier than though attitude and was told that if we didn't take the share table we'd be in a very long wait (despite the fact that no one else was waiting for a table)...

The whole "we won't seat incomplete parties" policy is annoying but occassionally forgiveable in a busy place during prime time -- but it's not acceptable when the place is mostly empty and when it's served up w/ arrogance...there is a definite feeling at Lupa now of: "We work in a popular place and we'll act haughty to justify our otherwise miserable lives"...if i hadn't a) been entertaining my gf's parents, and b) been a semi-regular at the place and love the food, i would have both walked out and written a complaint to the manager about the reception...

Similar experiences?

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  1. i've never had a problem at lupa but i had (almost) the exact same problem at otto on monday. we were a party of 10 and our reservation was at 4:15. we were the only ones there not eating at the bar. one of the people was en route in a car in traffic. with every open table available and 9 out of 10 people there, she gave us attitude about seating us, and only after telling her to sit us cause there was no one else there, she insisted that we had to order for our guest who wasnt there. not a problem since when we go to otto we usually just order a bunch of food, and then more food later if we still need, but the snottiness was unacceptable. like simon i can understand not seating if not everyone is there, but there is a line. at 4:15 on a monday when nobody else is eating, you can sit the party, especially if the majority of them are there.

    7 Replies
    1. re: jon

      in your case, you actually had a reservation (for 4:15!) so you have even more of a reason to be angry!...if i'd been in your shoes, i would have been furious...(do they really think the lateness of a 10th person is going to hold up the Lupa cash-flow/table-turning at 4:15??? -- no, they just seem to have hired/trained obnoxious hostesses)...

      if i were you, i've write a complaint letter...

      1. re: Simon

        Simon, I can understand not walking out because you were entertaining your g.f.'s parents. However, not writing a letter of complaint because you're "a semi-regular and love the food"? That's exactly the reason you should write the letter though I'd venture a guess you won't get a response.

        I think one of the reasons a lot of these places treat diners so shamefully is that they figure they can get away with hiring snotty hostesses and insisting that everyone in a group be present before being seated. Let's face it. It's the customers who pay the bills and keep the doors open, so there's no excuse for them not being treated with respect. If diners would refuse to put up with this kind of treatment and "vote" with their feet, thus causing patronage to take a steep dive, I'll bet the owners would heed the wake-up call and make some changes. There are scores of restaurants where the reception is warm, and you can be seated whether or not everyone in your party has arrived. Those are the places I dine at. The others, no matter how good the food might be, I have no use for.

        1. re: RGR

          That would make a good topic for the Not About Food board. You could title it "We're not seating you until the entire party arrives!"

          1. re: RGR

            yeah, you're right...however, it's harder to write a letter because the bad treatment from the hostess wasn't over-the-top vile: it was just passive-aggressive and annoying...not a huge deal, just a reminder of how we probably should, as you said, "vote w/ our feet" more often...

        2. re: jon

          I agree with Otto. A friend and mine wanted to dine at the bar and a group of 9 waited for their 10th friend to arrive. Otto refused to seat them until the 10th person arrived; in the interim the table reserved for them sat empty. I am talking a good half hour-45minutes.

          Who it really hurts is the bartenders who could have sat us; fed us; and turned the seats and made more money. It also hurts the waiter of the table

          1. re: ChrisZ

            I think it's the trend in attitude that is true and a problem. I encounter it at venues that don't have any reason at all to cop a snooty 'tude. I think Otto is a prime example. It's not as if it's Le Perigord, after all. That said, it seems some people are flakier than ever these days. A party may say the straggler is on the way, but sometimes they aren't "10 minutes away". I've stood behind groups where between the cell phone calls and at least half of them being late, it seems amazing they have enough sense to get dressed and get out to a restaurant in the first place.

            1. re: ChrisZ

              Yep. It seems that some people have never worked in the service industry and don't understand the reasoning behind why some rules are in place. Only that it inconveniences them without thinking that not following the policy inconveniences so many others.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I haven't been to Lupa in many years but I used to go there quite frequently. Each time the service was irreprochable. I (and every other diner) was made to feel truly welcome. I used to order frugally and sometimes they'd give me a double huge plate of bread free. Please realize that although empty before 5, the place gets slammed after 5:30.

              1. I really don't see that they did anything wrong.

                You already stated that you didn't have reservations and they really have no obligation to you.

                Despite it being "15% full" by your estimation, you still don't know how booked they were and at what time they were expecting certain guests.

                Then when they did find a place to seat you, it seemed that you were a tad ungrateful.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jza1218

                  haha...a restaurant should be grateful for customers, not the other way around...

                  Lupa has space saved specifically for walk-ins...we walked in and there wasn't anyone waiting for tables...if two people show up and there are empty tables, and then endure a wait because of their policy on not seating incomplete parties, the very *least* they can do is be polite and welcoming about problem is really more with the snotty attitude of the hostess than with the policy...there is never any excuse for a hostess not to be friendly, and especially on a mellow late afternoon when she is standing around literally doing nothing...

                  1. re: Simon

                    Nobody's questioning that a restaurant should be grateful for customers (however, it should be the same vice versa) nor that people should be polite.

                    Just stating that they're not "obligated" to give you what you want and for all we know, they could simply be returning the favor in terms of attitude.

                    I know that the first impression I got when reading your post was that you were being quite smug yourself with a "know-it-all" demeanor.

                    1. re: jza1218

                      I did not get that impression of Simon from his post. But even if it were the case that he had an attitude problem when dealing with the hostess, I don't think that's any excuse for her "returning the favor." Even if a customer's conduct leaves something, or even a lot, to be desired, I think restaurant personal should always maintain a professional demeanor. In the business world, there is a very good reason for the motto, "The customer is always right...."

                      1. re: RGR

                        Completely agree with RGR. I think when you go to dine-in restaurants, service is part of the dining experience and should not be compromised just because the food is good. Or if Simon was at one of Danny Meyer's establishments, I think he will be treated very different, with respect and care, no matter how he came out at the begining. After all, I think not think that Simon did anything wrong at the first place.

                        And what's wrong with "know-it-all" (which I did not even think Simon intented to demonstrate) ? I am sure if Frank Bruni comes to the restaurant with the "know-it-all" attitude, they will happily sit him immediately with a complimentary glass of wine.

                2. No similar experience here as yours. We've dined there about 4 times over the last 5 months, each time without reservations on extremely busy weeken nights and we've always been gracefully asked by the hostess if we would like to wait at the bar, or return at a certain time, and, pehaps with just the stroke of luck, we always get seated within 15 minutes.

                  Oh, and we were seated either at communal tables or one of our own. Never had any reason to complain and always very grateful about the available tables and much more so with the very good food.