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what should management have done?

ok, time for an etiquette/protocol question.

went to a very nice italian restaurant in north jersey for dad's birthday celebration tonight. after we had ordered and were well into our first round of cocktails, the table next to us became occupied by a group of 7 extremely boisterous, and clearly intoxicated men & women. all looked to be in their late 40's to about mid-50's. their shrieking and cackling was so deafeningly loud that my family practically had to shout to hear ourselves at our own table...their behavior was flat-out offensive. cursing, banging on the table, tapping silverware on glasses to get each other's attention...truly infantile, inappropriate stuff. and when it came time to order, one of the men quite literally started cursing at the server when he informed them that the resto had run out of the osso buco special four of them wanted. i considered going over to ask them politely to keep it down, but they were wasted, obnoxious, and - judging from the challenging glare i got from one of the women when i dared to turn around and look at them - belligerent to boot. i decided it was best not to confront them, and instead mentioned to the manager that their behavior was truly disruptive, as did my sister. he didn't really seem to care, nor did it bother him that they were abusing one of his employees.

we didn't have the option of moving to another table, as we were a party of nine and the place was packed. and since we had already ordered, and it was 9 p.m. on the saturday before x-mas in north jersey, and half of our party had schlepped out from manhattan for the celebration, we weren't really in a position to leave and find another place that could accommodate us.

when we finally did finish our meal and were getting ready to go, our poor server apologized to me profusely, even though he had the misfortune of waiting on them. i felt more sorry for him than i did for us. but i really thought management should have stepped in and done something about it. what do you all think?

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  1. My rule of thumb (and should be for any business) is when someone is ruining it for others, something should be done to curb it/stop it, etc. I'm sure others were also bothered by it and you may think twice about making your reservations with this place next time because of their LACK of any policy. It's one thing if there's a game going on and most are getting into it, hootin it up and there's only one party that's looking for a quiet night out - then it's pretty obvious that they picked the wrong place. I say the majority rules - if most are getting offended, then the majority are starting to place bad judgement on your place of business - take action so that the majority is passing good judgement on you. Always look to reduce or minimize this type of negative advertising as a business owner or manager.

    1. Was the Manager on Duty the owner or GM? If not, I would contact him/her via email or mail to explain the situation. Not that you are looking for reimbursement, but that this happened and his/her MOD didn't give a crap. It is not YOUR job as the customer to police the dining room. Chances are the server wouldn't complain to this manager either

      I think these people were also being overserved on alcohol, which no restaurant wants to deal with in the unfortunate case something would happen either in the bar or on the road.

      3 Replies
      1. re: stellamystar

        This type of experience seems to happen more this time of year, and restaurants seem to cope less well. It's almost like they become numb to it and give up trying. Too many groups coming in for end of year celebrations and too much alcohol. More people camping out at tables. And then the restaurant is going to be crowded so they can't move you.

        I ate out twice in the past few days and both times someone in my party got the wrong food or the food was cooked way wrong-- cheerfully fixed, with a comment about how hectic everything is right now, but at both places service was rather bumpy compared with usual.

        I'm not sure that (any time of year) management is going to be in a position to silence loud parties. Some won't do it explicitly and there are reasons for that-- once people are drunk and giving other diners those kinds of defiant looks, you can't win with them. But at least they can do damage control. At my favorite local restaurant, the owner-manager would be out in the dining room in that situation, circulating and talking to people, and would certainly be watching that table if they were abusive toward the servers. He wouldn't confront the people (at least I've never seen him do that) but just the fact that he talked to them and then remained in view would probably curb the worst of it.

        Maybe the place you ate at deals with this stuff better at other times; maybe not. I would let the manager know about this anyway. Can't hurt them to know.

        1. re: bibi rose

          If I were the manager, I would have gone over to the table and said "Everything you have had up to now is on the house. However, I insist that your party leave the restaurant at once.". I would have made sure I ahd some of the more able-bodied members of my staff around for backup.

          1. re: ekammin

            I agree with the comment about contacting the restaurant's owner directly. Sounds like the manager on duty didn't have any "skin in the game", so to speak, and a finely worded letter to the owner might have more effect on future practices. Unfortunately it doesn't fix your bad experience, but it might help make it better in the future.

            Hope your dad had a good birthday just the same!

      2. First congrats on not turning this into an even uglier scene.

        An unfortunate situation in which the victims (your party) has absolutely no power to do anything about the it. Unfortunately you are in a private establishment and if the owner of the establishment, or the designee, will do nothing, your choices are (1) live with it, (2) leave, (3) confront the situation yourself.

        In reverse order,

        (3) jfood has a simple rule in restos, never confront a drunk, and never say anything that a drunk can hear. you can snatch bigger defeat from the jaws of defeat.
        (2) leave? inthis case it was not an option as you described the schleppers
        (1) accept and make the best of the situatio. this is sorta your only choice at the time.

        Follow-up with the manager or the owner if you can find his/her name. Sounds like quite the deplorable situation. Unfortunately this behavior plus the self-entitlement is becoming more pervasive.

        1. I think how you approach this group has a lot to do with how they receive it. Once in my business, I found it necessary (but very difficult) to curb a couple who were really really too intimate in my business. (customer's won't come back to my business if they are uncomfortable during their visit - they' find another place). Very tough but I found a funny way to say "please stop it, not something we all want to be a part of". They curbed it. Some people can do this well and maybe a fun comment to this group could have curbed them, maybe not though - being drunk, they could take it very offensively and exaggerate the whole situation or they could take it lightly and understand. It's a crap shoot when you decide to confront someone on their behavior and how it's affecting others. I find a sense of humor can work - sometimes.

          1. The manager should have fixed the situation and I would definitely appeal to a higher up.

            The manager could have very nicely gone to the other table and nicely asked them to pipe down and as a nice gesture, bought them an appetizer.

            Only if they continued to be obnoxious should further action have been taken.

            The manager should have also comped something on your bill as a gesture of good will.

            1. Tought situation, for you, the server, and the restaurant.
              I agree with jfood -- never, as a customer, confront a drunk.

              There is a possible option: Have the manager pull the leader of the group aside and explain the situation. Certainly he or she should inform them the party is cut off of alchohol. This is something the managers, bartenders, and servers should be equipped for -- it's not only good policy, it's a legal requirement.

              I was a server for years and cut off a few belligerent customers -- I would tell the manager and bartenders first, so they could help handle bad reactions. The manager may have to be reminded that if there is an accident, or someone gets stopped for drunk driving, that the server, the restaurant, and the manager him or herself may be held accountable -- *especially* since you've already told them about it.

              1. You guys are very nice.
                I had almost the exact same situation happen to me, although it was a graduation celebration. After speaking to the Mgr twice and having him essentially do nothing, we (not yet having been enlightened by Jfood's or Richard16's advice about not confronting drunks) calmly and ina relaxed and joking manner asked the Drunks if they would mind toning it down just a bit? A couple of them said, "Sure...Sorry about that" but, needless to say, I cannot print the responses of several others. As it turned out, one of them stated he was an "off duty cop" and that we better "F*i'ng chill out". Just Perfect.
                I retired to the bathroom and called the police to notify them that a drunken man at the next table had informed me that he was a cop and I, concerned citizen that I am, was concerned about the dire consequences of this group getting behind the wheel and potentially causing an accident and a local scandal with a self announced member of the force as part of their party. I had called the local precinct directly. The Desk Sargent (Or whoever answered the phone) thanked me and said he would have it "checked out" Within about 10 minutes, 2 uniformed officers showed up. As it turned out, they were all cops!
                They talked with the uniforms for a few minutes and after quieting down considerably, they got the check and left.
                Perfect.... Just perfect. :-}
                The next day, I sent a letter to the Owner telling him about the entire incident and the Mgr's lack of assistance. He sent me a very sincere letter of apology and a $100 gift certificate. Next time I went there was a different Mgr so I don't know if anything was said to him.
                I agree with jfood and Richard16 though. Not much you could have done, but you better believe I would have insisted the Mgr either comp part of the meal or offer a gift certificate for my inconvenienceI

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tay

                  Interesting story. I just hope you don't get pulled over by any of those guys.