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inconsiderate patrons and/or restaurant?

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The s/o and I were invited to Louisville, KY this weekend for the St. James Art Fair and afterwards joined our friends(2 other couples) for dinner at L&N. This was my first visit to both the city and the restaurant. L&N appears to fill the niche of a middling-eclectic, moderately-priced bistro. We arrived on time for our 8:45 reservation to be told that our table was just starting dessert. No problem, we offered to have cocktails and app.s on the patio; it was a pretty night, not too warm, and, while the inside was apparently bustling, outdoor seating was plentiful. About twenty minutes later we're relaxing into our evening and inquire as to the status of our table...still on dessert. Okay...no problem.

We continue to ask after our reserved table throughout the evening. An hour in...the harried owner comes by and mentions that the kitchen's backed up. Cut to the chase; we're not gonna get our table, we ask if they could squeeze together a couple of inside tables...nope...we then offer to place some tables together ourselves and take our meal outside...go ahead, she says

Food was an afterthought, thankfully the company was convivial and enthusiastic.

Come 11 o'clock or so(we didn't receive entrees until after 10) the restaurant's shutting down...here comes "our" table wandering out. How incredibly rude! These bores took over our reserved table and *the restaurant let them*...they had plenty of opportunity to boot them out before we aquiesced and agreed to eat outside. Insult on top of injury, the waiter wrote in an 18 percent gratuity on the three checks(one per couple)...I don't recall the menu stating a factored-in gratuity for parties of a certain size...and, hey, you want 18%?, well, you certainly aren't going to receive our median 20%.

...bewilderingly, as the mother of our host and I get up to leave the restaurant, a busboy whips around and shouts at us, "we're closed!"

as if we hadn't just spent two hours at a table right outside the entrance
as if the restaurant weren't at fault for dragging out our repaste(we enjoyed a quick coffee after our entrees...by no means lingered)

anyhow, what would you have done when you realized the restaurant was too cowardly to "offend" the rude table by booting them out(or moving them to the bar etc with free drinks or whatever)

oh...and I appreciate that the owner mentioned the weeded kitchen(even though it was said in a tone that implied we were just making it worse by honoring our part of the reservation and omg ordering food)...I found it declasse' that they didn't comp us drinks or a dessert: I mean, we cooperated the entire night...they're the ones that hassled us.

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  1. All the fault lies with the restaurant. Unless that table was told that they only have the table until a certain time, they are free to occupy it as long as they want. There is nothing rude or borish about staying as long as one wants to. It's the restaurant's job to make sure your reservation is honored by whatever means possible. They didn't put you at another table, they didn't offer the outside as a possibility, they didn't comp you at all.

    Bottom line, I would send a copy of your write up to the owner, minus the part about the other party. Again, it's not their fault (unless they were told to vacate ahead of time).

    1 Reply
    1. re: PeterL

      I appreciate your line of thinking vis a vis the other party. And I am intending to send a letter to the restaurant.

    2. This makes no sense. Does this mean that they had a particular table assigned to you? You get table A-7 and if someone comes in for a later reservation, they can get seated if "their" table is ready, but you have to wait until A-7, "your table", is ready?

      1 Reply
      1. re: yayadave

        I was thinking the same thing. why would they designate a specific table to your group? It sounds like they took advantage of the fact you were accomodating enough make up an outdoor table, order some drinks and wait, and wait, and wait. Once you were there they decided to keep you there. Definitely a restaurant I would never return to!

      2. I'm not sure why, at some point , you didn't just get up and leave? As for "booting out" the other party, as PeterL pointed out, that's not the way to go either,. I'm not sure why they were only able to seat you at one specific table (Did they only have one table for 6?) but if the other patrons were lingering over coffee, or even conversation, a savvy Mgr would have politely told them that their table was needed but that he/she would be delighted to have them continue their evening at your outside table, with a drink on the house. They took advantage of your easy going, nature. I agree. Send a letter to the owner. If you get no aplology, feel free to detail your experience in an online review. You must be lovely folks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tay

          It's my understanding there was only one 6-top.

        2. Wow. Were there others seated for reservations while you waited?
          This is unacceptable on the part of the restaurant.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Barbecue Joe

            it's unacceptable if there was anywhere to put them. The OP's party was 6 people--many restaurants don't have a ton of places to put 6 people.

          2. I guess my post is a tad obfuscating: the waiter and owner kept referring to our reservation as "our table"---i.e. "your table's not ready yet, your table's still having dessert, etc." I was so focused on this absurdity that it didn't occur to me until now that they were obviously honoring other reservations. So, I emailed the restaurant. I'll post back if I hear anything. I'm not looking for freebies. Just an apology and/or explanation.

            1. I do tihnk depending on the circumstances the other party may have been a bit rude. If you're in a restaruant and you can see its obviously crowded and people are waiting for a table lingering over a table for several hours when you can continue your conversation at the bar/the patio/someones house/etc. has some amount of inconsiderateness to it.

              9 Replies
              1. re: jes

                Yeah, in the middle of a Monday afternoon that makes sense, but after an enjoyable meal with a few good friends and a few good drinks, it's harder to look around and asses the situation. Besides, seating other patrons is not your deal, it's the restaurant's. And if you're drinking, you're spending money, so the restaurant is making money.

                You say "inconsiderate" but everyone was being considerate of their own situation - except the OP and friends.

                1. re: yayadave

                  I've been out to eat where there is clearly a wait for a table (people out the door) and groups sit at a table having already paid the check and not ordering any more food. This is certainly inconsiderate when you can see people waiting for your table and you're not spending any more money. That was the situation i was talknig about which isnt necessarily what happened in the OPs case.

                  1. re: jes

                    In that instance, the point where you say "not spending any more money" is the point where the restaurant would have made a move. Without a doubt.

                    I was not necessarily disagreeing with your post, just painting a possible scenario where it could happen. The rub is that if you accept that scenario of the people at "the" table extending their evening's enjoyment with further drinks, desserts, etc and the management happy to have them spending their money there, then why: #1 didn't the O P and friends walk, and why #2 wouldn't the house make other arrangements for their group?

                    Oh, yes. Don't say they didn't have a table for six. Push two four-tops together and you have a table for a reservation for six.

                    1. re: yayadave

                      but on a busy night you might not have two four tops together. one four top might be on salads while the one next to it is on desert.

                      here's a scenario: you have a table that seats six eating dessert. A table of six (with res) walks in. You have a table of four finishing. A table of four (with res) walks in. Do you hold the open four until the one next to it opens in case the six top doesn't leave in time or do you seat the other party with a reservation?

                      The restaurant definitely should have done more for the OP. If nothing else, they should have been offered drinks or desserts (or both) for their troubles. The restaurant should have tried to seat them as soon as possible, but sometimes it's hard to seat a big table.

                      1. re: nc213

                        Your theoretical assessment of how seating goes it right on.

                        My take, in this case is, if you're the manager and if your ability to seat a 6 top is so limited, then you shouldn't accept a later reservation for the 6 top unless you're willing to move the previous party out of the table at some reasonable point in time that is close to the time you took the later reservation for.

                        1. re: ccbweb

                          I agree with you, ccbweb. If I were a manager, I would move tables to seat new tables, or eventually ask tables to leave. If I were the manager in the situation the OP notes, I probably would have asked the camping 6-top if they would care to move to the patio for a drink on us, since we needed the table back. Then I would have moved the OP into their table. Sadly, most managers I worked with would not have done the same.

                          1. re: nc213

                            I managed a restaurant that was exceedingly busy for a year and a bit and that's what I'd have done. I also agree that it's not something I see too often when I'm out.

                      2. re: yayadave

                        Busy places like this typically use the practice of "avoid the customer after the bill is paid and hopefully they will go away instead of confronting linger customer." However, I think most folks would be understanding. the host/owner/manager should invite the lingering group to the bar to cotinue their evening and leave the table for the reserved group.

                        1. re: stellamystar

                          Maybe we should take the lingering patrons out of the equation. They may not have been rude at all. They may just have been enjoying themselves - and spending. That still doesn't explain why the restaurant did not accomodate these folks and honor their reservation.

                2. Is this L & N Seafood, a chain? If so, I would pop a note off to the Headquarters as well as this outlet. It might be interesting to send the whole thread!!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: yayadave

                    It's not a seafood chain, it's a local Louisville winebar and bistro. And, I imagine the lingering party wasn't informed that there was another reservation.

                    1. re: aelph

                      If they were informed that another party had arrived and that they needed to vacate their table, someone would soon post about how rude L&N was to kick them out when they were still enjoying their coffee/conversation/water/pie/whatever.

                      Either they piss you off (by making you wait) or they piss off a table that's already seated (by asking them to leave). If you were the seated table, I bet you would have posted in outrage that someone dared ask you vacate a table before you were good and ready. Restaurant owner, meet rock v. hard place. What were they supposed to do, really?

                      1. re: jnstarla

                        I think Tay's suggestion is best in that situation.:

                        "a savvy Mgr would have politely told them that their table was needed but that he/she would be delighted to have them continue their evening at your outside table, with a drink on the house"

                        An alternative would be to have the lingering party adjourn to the bar for a drink on the house. That would make both parties reasonably happy if done in a timely fashion. If the party with the reservaton had deen made to wait while the other party finishes the meal, drinks on the house for the party waiting wouod be appropriate as well.

                        1. re: amethiste

                          my thoughts exactly

                          what I perhaps haven't been able to get across is an aura of aggressive unconcern on the part of the restaurant as the night wore on

                          why didn't we just leave?

                          We kept thinking things would get taken care of. This was the dining choice of our friends and we didn't care to make an uncomfortable situation worse. If it was just the s/o and I we would have done just that; paid for our drinks and apps and left. There was no speaking to the manager/owner. She was one of the people who kept stringing us along.

                          1. re: aelph

                            ""a savvy Mgr would have politely told them that their table was needed but that he/she would be delighted to have them continue their evening at your outside table, with a drink on the house" Is absolutely rite.

                            Now why could you not eat on the patio? no tables out there?

                            What is sad is that they clearly do not know what is a normal table turnaround for their establishment.

                            also sad: you had to ask them the status of the table, they should have updated you with every round of drinks you ordered.

                            1. re: marthayou

                              The patio was plastic tables and chairs clearly intended for the more casual, drop-in diners(which is all well and good)...this was pressed home by the references to "our table" not being ready in the much preferable, much better-appointed inside.

                              1. re: aelph

                                I really look forward to their responce

                                1. re: marthayou

                                  They seem to be churlish from manager to busboy, top to bottom. I doubt there will be an answer.

                  2. The manager absolutely dropped the ball big time on this one.

                    The 6-top may not have been aware of their intrusion on another 6-top waiting for the table and when the 6-top ordered the second round of after dinner drinks or coffee, it is perfectly acceptable to ask if they minded if they continue in the bar with a round on the house. If the current squatters say no, well then the rock and hard place come into play. No winner being the manager as someone will be pissed off. But it does not appear that the manager did anyting other than coddle you, and you seem to have enjoyed being coddled since you did not leave. Why? Only the shadow and you know.

                    The busboy just did not know, can;t blame him for not knowing.

                    Bottom line is you were way too nice, you shoud have left but it does not seem it bothered you all that much

                    http://jfoodonfood.blogspot.com new post 10/8/07

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: jfood

                      hey jfood...enjoy your posts

                      as I mention upthread the situation wasn't conducive to up and leaving or complaining...tho' asking every twenty-thirty minutes if our table is ready oughta be construed as verging on complaint...

                      and we weren't so much coddled as fed misinformation until objection was a moot point

                      1. re: aelph

                        BTW, good job naming the restaurant.

                        1. re: psb

                          Are you being sarcastic? Why would I not name the restaurant?

                          Anyway...they still haven't replied...I doubt they will.

                          1. re: aelph

                            er, no. not at all being sarcastic ... i'm a big believer in the
                            Google Cache.
                            a lot of people tell these incredible egregious stories
                            but dont mention the resto name. i think if you make an honest
                            judgement that you've been shafted or bait and switched etc and
                            it's not an "act of god" type situation, people should name names.

                            especially if they dont respond. and if they do, again they get
                            a fair hearing.

                            1. re: psb

                              I agree, obviously

                              there are so many posts where the offender remains unnamed only to be "outed" downthread when commenters start a guessing game

                              it's a different story if the restaurant might incur legal action because of an *erroneous* report

                    2. The fault is with the restaurant not being on top of things. FWIW, I've worked that show & it seems that the influx of people cripples a lot of the eateries, They just aren't used to being that slammed.

                      1. The restaurant emailed admitting difficulties that night and promising a follow-up to address my specific experience. I respect that they replied.