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Is this an acceptable reservation policy??!! [Moved from Texas board]

I figure that I would relay a recent experience that I had at Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Enoteca (in Houston for those not familiar). Before my recent dinner there, I was a huge fan and I still think that their pizza's are some of the best in Texas. It is a shame that my recent dealings with the hostess and manager were so atrocious that I will probably never return.

On my last visit, I thought I was fortunate to snag a reservation for our group of 6 (their policy is that they take reservations for parties of 6 or more). We get there 2, maybe 3 minutes, at the most, late (and I promise I am not exaggerating for effect here). I was told by the hostess that since we were late that they had given our table away. When I stared at my watch and then back at her, she shrugged her shoulders and explained that if the party isn't available when the table is ready the table is given away. This policy, mind you, was not conveyed to us when we made the reservation. Instead of thinking on our feet and asking to be shown where and to whom this make believe table was given was away in the past 90 seconds, we all threw a collective fit and asked to speak to the manager. The manager, who was more suited by his age/dress/demeanor to be a busboy, again conveyed to us the restaurant's ridiculous reservation policy. We were eventually sat within 20 minutes (probably because of the stink that we all raised) and ended up having a decent meal in the end.

I want to hear from others to see if they have had similar experiences at this restaurant or others. I understand that reservations don't mean that the customer has ownership over a table for the night, but my feeling is that restaurants should honor a reservation as long as a customer shows up within 15 minutes of the reservation time. Even if that is too long, certainly showing up within 5 minutes (or 2 as we did) should be sufficient. I also understand that my table may not be "ready" at the time of my reservation and that I may need to wait for a period of time (say 15-20 minutes) before being seated. If that was the explanation given by the hostess (that our table wasn't ready quite yet), then I think we would have all been accepting of the wait. However, she took it upon herself to assign blame on us for being late and that is where she, IMO, crossed the line.

Sorry for the wordiness of this post, but after that experience, I had to share my frustration.

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  1. It's not a gracious policy, but it is acceptable. They didn't know that you were just a couple minutes down the road, and as soon as you are late they start losing money. For all they knew you were 15 minutes away, or a no show. If you don't feel compassion for the restaurant losing money, then consider that the waiter is losing money too. Also, it's not fair for anyone else in the restaurant to have to wait longer because you were late.

    12 Replies
    1. re: kindofabigdeal

      I have to disagree with you, bid deal. My feeling is that there was never a table waiting in the first place and they used the fact that we were a tad bit on the late side to push some blame on us. If you can't afford to wait fifteen minutes for a reservation, then don't accept reservations. Everyone that deals with reservations/appointments deals with late arrivals/no shows. There has to be an acceptable grace period (which no doubt is longer than 3 minutes). A restaurant is no different in this case than any other business that takes appointments. Can you imagine being 3 minutes late to your doctor's appointment and the doctor refusing to see you?

      1. re: Bhutani

        I think that's a rather severe policy but I'm sure they've had their share of no-shows so they feel justified doing that.

        I think you're right though, there never was a table.

        I've had my share of reservation snafus and I've learned to either get there 15 minutes early or call ahead and tell them I'm on the way.

        1. re: Scagnetti

          I'm a big believer calling the restaurant and letting them know our status if we're not going to be in there by the reservation time. One of our favorite places has horrible parking issues and I've been known to call with "we're here just looking for a place to park" and it's always appreciated.

          1. re: Scagnetti

            A couple of years ago my friends and family and I were in the car on our way to a birthday dinner, 15 minutes before the reservation time. The restaurant called and asked my friend where she was, since it was now 15 minutes before the reservation time. She replied we were close by and looking for parking. When we arrived, they had given our table away, and 45 minutes later we were seated. Mind you, had it been up to me and not someone else's birthday/ restaurant of choice, I would have left immediately. Needless to say I will not go back.

          2. re: Bhutani

            >> If you can't afford to wait fifteen minutes for a reservation, then don't accept reservations.

            I agree, Bhutani. You are 100% correct. I've experienced my share of restaurants like this, and sadly, the only recourse is never to return.

            1. re: Bhutani

              I'm not saying I would run my business like that, but, there's a reason its called a "grace" period. A lack of grace may make poor business sense, but it doesn't mean they've wronged you, only that they didn't show grace for your error.

              1. re: Bhutani

                "Can you imagine being 3 minutes late to your doctor's appointment and the doctor refusing to see you?"

                it happens. i'm chronically early, and i've been seen by doctors in someone else's earlier time slot when i'm already in the waiting room and the other person is a minute or two late...and i was once the late one, and had a doctor take someone else, leaving me, all of 3 minutes late.

                regarding your issue with the restaurant, it is their prerogative to give the table away. whether or not there really was a table waiting you'll never know, but there's a simple way to ensure you don't encounter this problem again. if you're running even a minute late, call the restaurant to let them know, assure them you'll be there momentarily, and ask them to please hold the table for you. i always take the phone number with me, and if there's even a slight chance i'll be late, i call. they're always thankful for the effort, and 99% of the time i'm not late anyway, but for that remaining 1%, my table is still available when i arrive.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Question: In your experience how much time before your reservation can you reasonably discern that you will be literally one minute late?

                  Thanks!

                  1. re: Chinon00

                    you can't. that's why i err on the side of caution. if i can determine based on the way traffic is moving [i live in LA] that there's no way i'm going to be early, i assume there's a chance i'll be late...so i call to warn the restaurant. in most cases i make it on time, they're grateful that i even bothered to call and still managed to show up on time, my table is ready, and everybody's happy.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      I hear you (and as a friend of mine used to put it, "there is always something to do in LA, and it's always 45 minutes away) but we will have to agree to disagree I guess. Personally, I can easily discern if I'm going to be 10 minutes late and I will call the restaurant in those instances. But I'm not going to bother to track my commute down to the "minute", updating the restaurant along the way. I'm sorry but I simply don't need to eat there THAT badly. I COMPLETELY understand "erring on the side of caution" but if “a minute” results in me being significantly inconvenienced (or losing my reservation) then I can't imagine it's a place that I'd want to visit again (just me).

                      "Um, excuse me, I - I think you forgot my bread."
                      "Bread, two dollars extra."
                      "Two dollars? But everyone in front of me got free bread."
                      "You want bread?"
                      "Yes, please."
                      "Three dollars!"
                      "What?"
                      "No soup for you!"
                      - George and the Soup Nazi, in "The Soup Nazi"

                      1. re: Chinon00

                        Nope, not just 'you', Chinon00. I expect a restaurant to hold my reservation for 15 minutes, just as I wouldn't be upset at being kept waiting 15 minutes for a table if I were on time.

                        It worked for professors in college, it works for me in restaurants.

                        Beyond that, I would understand if they gave my table away if I hadn't called, and beyond that I would be out of there if I had a reservation and were not seated or at least bought a drink on the house.

              2. re: kindofabigdeal

                Then I think it would be fair that if the table was not ready when you arrived for your reservation that they would have to give you your meal free don't you think?... if you get punished for being late then they should too if they are late....

              3. I don't think it is acceptable either; I think the table should be held at least five or ten minutes. (and agree, it is doubtful there was a table). That said, like Scagnetti, I have had my share of snafus, and am paranoid that the place will do exactly this and give away the table after a minute or two, so I also always try to either arrive five to ten minutes early, sometimes more if I way overestimate time to get to the restaurant, or call at least five minutes BEFORE the reservation time to let them know if I am stuck and running late. Don't give them an excuse, that's my motto (and hubby thinks I am being obsessive, but so what, saves me worrying...).

                Part of my obsessiveness stems from hating to be told to wait in the bar when I arrive on time (though I don't mind it if I am more than just a few minutes early). It just feels like a way to get me to order a drink. Happened yesterday as a matter of fact: friend and I arrived a few minutes early for a brunch reservation. We were told 'we are just waiting for someone to pay' and 'if we wanted we could wait in the bar'. Well, there were no seats in the bar, so we just said we'd wait near the hostess stand (where there is a huge amount of space since it is in a hall, not in the main dining area). Sure enough, one minute later we were shown to a lovely table that was completely cleared and ready (so clearly no one was 'waiting to pay'.). They didn't want us standing near the entry but didn't mind if we had to stand in the bar.....where we might order a drink...

                5 Replies
                1. re: susancinsf

                  Susan, I agree with you. If you're going to be late, all you have to do is call. The restaurant's clocks may be a few minutes ahead of yours, and all of a sudden, you're pushing 10 minutes late without calling.

                  Not trying to be brusque, but in reality, you WERE late. A simple phone call would've avoided this whole situation.

                  Also, a restaurant ISN'T like other businesses. With very few exceptions, a restaurant has no way to recuperate losses from no-show tables. They can't bill your insurance company or you personally (again, a few exceptions exist, but it's definitely not the norm), so it's in their best interst to give the table away (to begin making money) if you're not there on time and haven't let them know you're going to be late.

                  Three minutes is a little harsh, but they have a right to their policy.

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    I do agree with others' argument that maybe I should have called. I thought we were on time when we arrived at the valet so I didn't see the need to call ahead. But lets be honest, my "table" wasn't given away in the last 120 seconds before I entered the door. So, how early do I need to be for my reservation to be seated at my "table"?

                    I disagree with your examaple, invino, that restaurants aren't like other businesses though. I know that on a number of occasions that I have been instructed that my credit card will be charged a fee (whether it is $25 or $50) if I don't honor my restaurant reservation or call ahead to cancel. I am a physician and I know that it is very rare that doctors get away with trying to recuperate anything from no-show patients or their insurance companies.

                    The restaurant does have a right to their policy, I agree. Being in the service industry though, they should also aim to please their customers. If I had been made aware of this "policy" on making my reservation, I would have kept my mouth shut when I was late. It amazes me how these "policies" seem to be invoked without the customer having any forewarning that they even exist.

                    1. re: Bhutani

                      It's a completely absurd "policy" (if it actually exists). Watches can easily be a couple of minutes off. If a restaurant had that policy out here in LA they would essentially be out of the reservation taking business. Vote with your feet / wallet and take your business elsewhere.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Exactly the point that I was going to make. Your 7 PM might be 6:58:55 on my watch... so what time is it, really? If a restaurant's policy is that parties must be physically present at the hostess station at the moment of the reservation according to the restaurant's computer's clock, then that policy had better be emphasized to anyone making the reservation. And stamped on the manager's forehead.

                      2. re: Bhutani

                        Does the restaurant really need to tell a grownup (and a doctor at that, who definitely knows how valuable time is) to be on time for their reservation? As some of us have mentioned, clocks read different times everywhere, and your "three minutes" late could've been closer to ten, according to the restaurant.

                        My PCP and dentist both charge me directly for missed appointments without a call.

                        The restaurant did aim to please their customers; the ones who were on time for their reservation.

                        I agree you should've been warned about the stringency of this policy.

                  2. sounds acceptable to me, especially in todays "me first" society we live in where alot of society does not care about others, or being on time. The restaurant needs to cover themselves for no shows.

                    We always arrive early for reservations(and thats with hauling a 1-1/2 year old child around with us).

                    1. To me the problem is simply the way the rest. dealt with the issue. That fact that you were late (albeit not by much) and had a table within 20 minutes, sounds like they did well by you. Except instead of saying they gave your table away, they should have simply said they were running a bit behind and that your table would be available shortly. You probably would have been happy to get your table when you did and all would be well. They should have thought on their feet a little better. If I liked the place for the food, I would pretend that's what happened and forget about it...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bnemes3343

                        I would expect this kind of nonsense in New York City, but this is Houston -- geez! I think you were treated badly, but I also agree with others who say that a call ahead might have helped. They obviously weren't ready for you. I am surprised that they were willing to blow you off like that. Guess business is pretty good on Lower Westheimer. After taking a look at their website and menu I might be inclined to try them next weekend, I know that this post will always be in the back of my mind. I don't forsee ever being a party of 6, so I will have to take my chances as a walk-in some evening.

                        1. re: Cheflambo

                          Whyever would you expect this kind of nonsense in NYC? It is common practice here for a restaurant to wait 10-15 minutes before they give your table away. Any restaurant here that even tried to pull this kind of a stunt would probably have much more of a problem on their hands than the OP gave the restaurant at issue. Please explain.

                      2. The restaurant was dead wrong. The standard is a fifteen minute window, call or no call. And I find it ridiculous to lose a reservation after two minutes. Do they rush you out too by starting to repeatedly ask "anything else" immediately after your last sip of coffee?
                        Making money is important to everyone but it can't always be the bottom line. This is the "service" industry isn't it?

                        10 Replies
                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                            For me and my family and my dollar it is "standard" (and typical of most restaurants that I frequent). What are they Philistines?

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              And not every customer-business are meant to be together. The company has their own reasons for the policy. And of course you (general) can take your business elsewhere but it doesn't mean that the business is "wrong".

                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                No, they are not "wrong" in some absolute sense because it is their policy. But I think that we can agree that it is a bit severe for the manager of a restaurant to look at his watch, or at the clock hung on the restaurant wall, or at the clock on the computer, or at any time keeping device other than the person with the reservation, and at 8:59:59 to then look up for his 9PM reservation and when he/she doesn't see them to immediately give up the table?

                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  My guess is that it happened more like this.....group comes in wanting a table. Hostess sees that it's 9:03 and the 9:00 group has not arrived (nor have they called), so they seat the party that is there instead of making them wait for someone who may or may not show up. And in Chowhound tradition, there will probably be a thread complaining about a restaurant holding a table for a tardy group sometime down the road.

                              2. re: Chinon00

                                Bring your dollar wherever you like, but I hope a 'Hound would never be 15 minutes late without calling.

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  This one would. I call if I'm going to be clearly violating the 15 minute rule. Otherwise I'd expect to have my 9:00PM reservation to be recognized up to and including 9:14:59. Now if I show up after that (call or no call) I'm obviously at the mercy of whatever is available (and that may include not getting seated that evening).

                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                    Chinon, I've read many of your posts and appreciate your extreme knowledge and love of good beer, etc. I don't mean to argue with you. I'm just saying that in my 15+ years in the industry, a busy restaurant most likely won't hold your reservation that long. No place I've ever worked has held them for more than 5 or 10 minutes, unless it's slow. If there are butts to put in seats, to the seats they go.

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      I didn't mean to imply that a table will be held for us for 15 minutes. Clearly there might be complications if the party shows up 10-15 minutes late. But I'd still expect to be seated (at some point) that evening. After 15 minutes though (and particularly without having called) the evening may be lost. That just has been my experience and is my expectation.

                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                        Agreed, you'll still be sat, just most likely not at your desired time.

                          2. Absolutely an acceptable policy. This is how it works: "Smith, party of 6, Smith Smith...Jones, party of 6, Jones."

                            Not to forget you were seated within 20 minutes of arrival

                            "My feeling is that there was never a table waiting in the first place"

                            Here is one of your problems - you have gone from being dissatisfied with their policy to all sorts of imagined grievances - asserting in several of your response that you were lied to by staff, there never was a table etc. and so on.

                            Why is it unbelievable that the table was seated 90 seconds (or 30 seconds for that matter) before your arrival? Physical impossibility according to the laws of space and time?

                            As a physician surely you know that if one arrives at 10:00 at a physician's office for a 10:00 appointment, they've already started "seating" the 10:15s and that you, the 10:00, are now not going to be "served" until 11:00 or later. It's not a question of being 2 minutes late, but rather of having to arrive early to have your "reservation" honored.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: FrankJBN

                              There is a mismatch between a place that "calls out" the names of people ON A WAITING LIST and places that take a reservation. With a reservation one 'checks in' upon entering. Even for the "waiting list" type places there is generally a "window" of at least a few minutes -- I've never been to a place that employs a "rodeo chute" or finish line to determine who responds quickest. The "flashing pagers" seem to be a pretty good solution, but for a place that employs BOTH this seems a bad compromise. When I get to place where I've made a reservation I don't want to be handed a pager, I want to be seated. And if I dropped by and am holding a pager when someone walks in I don't feel good when they are whisked to a table...

                              Seems to me the real problem was with how the staff communicated "giving away" the reservation and / or under estimating how busy they'd be when they accepted the reservation of the OP -- and that too is fair game for a review. Had the OP been greated with a warm "Good Evening Mr./Ms. Bhutani, whe have your reservation. We should have your table in a few minutes, would you like to sit in here or in the lounge?" In such a situation the 20 minutes might have gone unnoticed. If the place really got unexpectedly swamped a Mngr should have been comping drinks and/or hustling table to help get the dining room back on schedule...

                            2. What sets a fine dinning restaurant apart fromt the pack is their ability to retain customers with 1. excellent food and 2. excellent service.
                              While the almighty buck is the driving force for every restaurant out there, reasonible policies get and keep customers. This establish HAS EVERY RIGHT to make policies that help thier bottom line...And you have every right to scribe a smart, succient letter to the owner/dining room manager letting them know why you will never return...

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Bunnyfood

                                Thank you for making my point for me, invino. Clocks can be a little off, so both parties should be understanding. FYI, I was using my cell phone as my standard for the time. I assume that the cell phone company provides an accurate time. And Frank, I was not upset that I was not seated right away. I was put off how the restaurant (both the hostess and the manager) dealt with the matter. They could have just as easily kept me in the dark that my table was given away and I would have been none the wiser. They made it a point for me to know that I was being penalized; and for that, I take umbrage.

                                Thank you to the few of you who seem to see things my way. I will definately heed the advise and take my business elsewhere. I had originally posted this on the Texas board so that other potential patrons would be aware as well. One person boycotting this restaurant has little effect on its bottom line. Based on the response from the manager that evening, I have a sense that any letter I scribe will fall on def ears.

                                1. re: Bhutani

                                  See Janet's 1:31pm post above. She really hit the nail on the head.

                                  Also, you prefer the restaurant lie to you. Interesting.

                                  I agree that their policy is harsh, but you WERE late. You were late. It's your fault. Also, I doubt the restaurant will miss your business if you're the type of patron who tries to get people to boycott a restaurant because of your own error.

                                  1. re: Bhutani

                                    The flip side to this coin would be If you had a reservation at a restaurant for which you clearly arrived a few minutes early. Then, after your reservation time comes up, you walk out if the restaurant doesn't seat you withing 2 or 3 minutes of your "reserved time."

                                    After all "you were at the restaurant" at your contracted time and they then violated that contract to which they had agreed. That would equally make no sense. As the situation you found yourself in makes no sense, (with respect to how the restaurant handled you and your party).

                                    Being in the "service" and "hospitality" business means not holding people to the Nth degree of the letter of some completely arbitrary and meaningless standard such as the one that was imposed on you. Unless they are timing running events at a track meet this was an an idiotic abuse of discretion.

                                    I would write a letter of complaint. If I didn't get a very apologetic reply from the owner / manager of that restaurant that would be the last time I would spend my money on their "product". And I would make sure that I related the story to as many of my friends as possible.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Then, after your reservation time comes up, you walk out if the restaurant doesn't seat you withing 2 or 3 minutes of your "reserved time."

                                      Hah, good one. Won't happen that way, though.

                                      The onus is on the patron, it seems, with the only recourse never to go there again.

                                      1. re: dolores

                                        Just pointing out the absurdity of either position. The restaurant was certainly "in the wrong" in this case. As the patron would be in the other case.

                                        Two or three minutes measured by someone's unreliable time piece, (or even a reliable one for that matter) should not be the determining factor in holding or giving away someone's reserved table. And if it is, then these so called " restaurant people" are in the wrong business.

                                2. I have worked in bars and restaurants where the policy was to set the clocks fast. This is known colloquially as "bar time." If that was the restaurant's policy, and they did not factor that into their stringent time constraints, then the restaurant is completely at fault. Not sure if that was the policy at the restaurant, but it seems to me that at LEAST 5 minutes is an acceptable buffer to accommodate the potential for fast/slow timepieces.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: charlesbois

                                    am in total agreement, again with invinotheresverde, and janet from richmond. again, some people will never understand this, but late is late[oh! and with no phone call either-bet they would have had a table for you if you had called 5 minutes earlier than your reservation,to say you were running late, but then again..we/ll never know.

                                    1. re: kewpie

                                      So to be clear (and a bit absurd), I show up exactly at the reservation time (according to my watch) and the restaurant has nonetheless given away my table because according to their clock I'm 2 minutes late. They then proceed to tell me on top of it that there is nothing that they can do as they are fully booked for the evening and "good night". But eh, "late is late" right? Now I think we can agree that that would be ridiculous but according to you that would be acceptable correct?

                                    2. re: charlesbois

                                      20 years ago, maybe you'd have a point that somebody's watch or clock was off by five minutes. Nowadays, so many of our timekeeping devices are automatically set by central signals from the cell phone carrier, satellites controlling your car's clock via GPS and OnStar, radio signals from Fort Collins governing other clocks and watches, computers routinely synchronizing with Internet-based time servers, etc. All of these should be within a few seconds, not minutes, of each other.

                                      I haven't had the need to wear a watch in at least 15 years. In addition to carrying a cellphone that constantly displays the correct time, I'm pretty much surrounded (involuntarily) by no fewer than two other synchronized timekeeping devices at any one time.

                                      If you're using a timepiece that's manually set, it doesn't take much effort to check it occasionally to ensure it's accurate by checking it against the multitude of synchronized devices that are likely in your face 24/7/365, or even just noting the start of a TV show at :00 or :30. If you fail to do so, frankly that becomes your problem.

                                      I can see a restaurant using the "bar time" concept to deny seating to patrons who come in just before closing on a slow night after they've sent the kitchen staff home, but can't imagine they'd risk generating badwill by denying a reservation on the basis that it was claimed late against an obvilously bogus "bar time." Not when it would be so easy to demonstrate that their bar time is wrong with a simple phone call (202-762-1401), put on speaker for all to hear.

                                      1. re: tubman

                                        My $.02 on the time issue: I still wear watches, and all of them (and my clocks at home) are set ahead, so I'm never late. This procedure has served me well over the years (tho it's a hassle when I have to change the clocks due to time change) and I can never get all the timepieces to show the exact same time.

                                        As for synchronized timing: my personal cell phone and a temporary one (Nextel) I'm using for my current client are 3 minutes slower than my office computer. Go figure.

                                        1. re: rednails

                                          I applaud your habit of setting watches and clocks ahead, if that's what it takes to keep you on time.

                                          So many institutions that a few years ago used to offer a few minutes' grace period in starting time to account for timekeeping variations have stopped. Business meetings, college classes, court proceedings, to name just a few in my experience. If I'm five minutes late to any of these, they'll undoubtedly have started without me and I'll accept the consequences of my tardiness.

                                          I'm not sure why a restaurant should be expected to act any differently on a busy night. Nothing breeds hostility like an empty reserved table in clear view of hungry patrons waiting patiently to be seated.

                                          If you're a restaurateur, you need to make a business decision: risk the possibility of ticking off the party that's late (or possibly not showing) and rudely hasn't called, or definitely tick off the multitudes actually in your restaurant, waiting for a table. To me, that's a no-brainer.

                                          1. re: tubman

                                            nicely put.

                                            from the restaurant & staff's point of view a party of 6 that has nobody in the party show up or call by the time of reservation is a no-show, with maybe a 1/10 possibility of a late-show. while a 2-top might be given a longer grace period, a party of 6's table is higher stakes & therefore will probably be given away quickly, perhaps split into a 4 top & a 2-top, or 3 deuces. the fact that the op was the 1/10 who is a late-show rather than a no-show really just makes it more stressful for the staff who now must figure out how to cobble together a 6 top to accommodate the op's party. i.e. a late-show for a 7pm res who throws a hissy & demands to be seated is probably messing up the reservation book for the reservations at 8pm, and those people may show up for their reservations promptly and be ticked that their table isn't ready because the op is lingering over coffee! the host & mgr may have been more blunt at pointing out the op's error than the op may have liked, but the party of 6, which may or may not have been large by the restaurant's standards, was *still* sat quickly on a busy night, and they had a nice time, and probably couldn't care a whit about the folks standing by the door at 8. *sigh*

                                            1. re: tubman

                                              Setting my watches ahead makes me early, 99.99% of the time. The other times are beyond my control (i.e. traffic etc). I'd always rather be early than merely on time. I had a friend in college who could never, ever, be ready to go out on time. I started telling her to be ready a half-hour earlier than I needed her to be, and as passive-aggressive as that scheme was, it worked.

                                              I don't often make reservations for dinner b/c I tend to make dining decisions on the spur-of-the-moment, but when I do, I'm almost always early. If I'm running late, I call. That's just common courtesy, to my way of thinking. Same goes for the hairdresser, manicurist, etc but not the dr, as he's never waiting for me.....

                                          2. re: tubman

                                            Please.....not all of us go by the cell phone time...some of us even turn it off occasionally when dining. And I notice that my cell phone time NEVER agrees with the announced time on NPR..which should I believe :-)

                                            Besides, for my anniversary my husband gave me a beautiful antique Bulova watch which is now what I prefer when going out to dinner. Of course, if I forget to rewind it I WILL have the time wrong...:-)

                                            (All this is my way of saying that two minutes late is not late. There should be five minutes leeway at least. And restaurants take phone numbers..so why shouldn't they call if someone is more than five minutes late? I do that in my business....if nothing else it tends to avoid repeat no-shows...)

                                        2. cooks don't get health benefits, so i may be a little fuzzy on this: when you have an 8am doctor's appointment, aren't you supposed to get there 10-15 mins early, so that you can get your info put into the computer, shown to a room, prepped by a nurse/aid? so that then you can hang out in your comfy and warm paper gown until the doc arrives at 8, 8:02, 8:25 or whatever. . . but if the patient arrives at 8:05 s/he's up a creek. i could be wrong, just sayin.

                                          is this establishment a pizzeria, or is it a fine dining restaurant, or both somehow? if it's a pizzeria that's slammed busy i wouldn't expect my res to be honored without a phone call (and i would expect the unprofessional 'tude from the host & mgr if i threw a fit). if it's fine dining and slammed busy, or a place with limited seating, as appears to be the case, you bet i'd call. as some people like to say: "time is money," and fifteen whole minutes in a fine dining restaurant at a table for 6 is around $200, and if the restaurant is full of empty reserved tables and patrons standing around hungry, the restaurant not only is losing money, it's pissing off its patrons who are waiting and hungry, and *there,* not floating around in the city somewhere.

                                          independent restaurants are entitled to have whatever policies work for them. there is no "standard" grace period for lateness, ime most places will hold a res for around 10 minutes but if there are walk-ins waiting it is absolutely up to the mgmt's discretion and it's rude of customers to presume their table will be held. i personally would have called the op at the time of res, and if it went to voicemail i might feel justified in giving away the table, depending on other circumstances. sounds like they were sat reasonably promptly and had a nice time, so it brings us back to the staff's 'tude, which seems to be the main issue for the op-- yet the op also says they all collectively threw a fit, and even wanted to confront the patrons who were sat at "their" table? and do what, kick their butts?!? be able to shoot them dirty looks across the dining room? spit in their cocktail order? i feel like i'm not privy to a few details, but maybe it's enough to realize that restaurants don't always run like clockwork, they're full of people socializing and dining at their own pace. it sounds like the staff bent over backwards to seat a 6 top in a slammed restaurant within 20 mins, but that they didn't tell the op what s/he wanted to hear, the way s/he wanted to hear it. if i were the op i'd write it off, or i'd take my business elsewhere as i saw fit. if i were the restaurant mgr i'd make sure the res policy was clearly posted and stated on the phone to save the staff from unneeded stress. sounds like they already have enough/more than enough business than they can handle, so i don't think an angry letter will get much in the way of sympathy or compensation, if that's what the op's after.

                                          sounds like the op needs to do the ol' formula: awesomeness of food minus crappiness of service divided by size of own ego=whether or not to return

                                          40 Replies
                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            Thanks for the post to my comments. Your point, soupkitten, about the doctor's office is true but I wasn't instructed to show up to the restaurant 15 minutes early on making my reservation to fill out paperwork. My dining history, food allergies, medications, etc., aren't something that I expected to have to provide before being shown my table. And if a patient shows up late (as long as it is within 30 minutes) to our office, we don't make it a policy to matter of factly tell them essentially "tough sh-t" YOU'RE LATE! If they show up after 30 minutes without calling, we often ask them to reschedule. We may be irritated with them that they are late (and talk amongst ourselves that they have screwed our schedule up) but being the professionals that we are, we do the best we can to accomodate them. I have no idea how a cook not having health benefits has any relevance to anything.

                                            That gets to the gist of my whole argument. The end result (our table being shown to a table within 20 minutes) doesn't justify their attitude. If I hadn't asked to speak to the manager and voiced my frustrations, I saw no indication that they were going to seat us in any sort of timely fashion.

                                            As for why I wanted to be shown the table that was supposedly given away, was to expose the hostess as being a liar. I can't paint the picture to those that weren't there, but I feel fairly confident that there was no party of 6 that was just seated. I have no beef with the customers who were seated at that table.

                                            1. re: Bhutani

                                              Bhutani, with all due respect -- your need to "expose the hostess as being a liar" and the "collective fit" display of maturity are two reasons why your argument is pretty lame. This sort of behavior almost BEGS for an attitude from Management. (Oh, yes yes I know -- "They" started it.) I hope you enjoyed your meal and were generous with your gratuity to a server who was not involved in the seating process.

                                              1. re: Cheflambo

                                                If I was the manager, and a customer was attempting to "expose the hostess as a liar", and having a "fit" in my establishment, I would have told them to take their business elsewhere, and to lose our phone number.

                                                1. re: swsidejim

                                                  If you read my post, you would see that I "wished" that I had exposed the hostess (I didn't actually do anything besides argue that their regimented following of this policy of their's was utterly stupid).

                                                  A lot is being made of this "collective fit." This consisted of a fairly orderly but stern refusal to accept the rude and obnoxious treatment that we were receiving.

                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                      in this instance it does not sound like the hostess was lying. Customer was late, they gave the table away. Pretty cut and dry in this case.

                                                      I would not make a statement that would cover all scenarios with only one way of handeling them.

                                                2. re: Bhutani

                                                  Bhutani--
                                                  my doctor's office example was one i thought you'd understand because you said you were a doctor-- and i was trying to point out that even people who don't get to go to the doctor know the correct etiquette *about* going to the doctor (and are expected to know this). others, despite going out to eat regularly, i'd assume, seem to be unclear about the etiquette of properly keeping a reservation.

                                                  your attitude toward the "lying" hostess and "busboy with an attitude" mod unfortunately leads me to think that you don't feel these people or the jobs they do are important, compared to your own. you also stated you felt entitled to 15 full minutes of everyone's time at this busy establishment (that includes customers). if you had stated you were a minister i would have given an example about folks strolling into a service, maybe even an important one, like a wedding or funeral, 2-5 minutes in. it was obviously a completely vain attempt to get you to put yourself into other people's shoes on this issue.

                                                3. re: soupkitten

                                                  " "time is money," and fifteen whole minutes in a fine dining restaurant at a table for 6 is around $200,"

                                                  And if one extrapolates your numbers, TWO whole minutes in fine dining restaurant at a table for 6 would therefore be around $26. Is that what we are talking about here?

                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                    um, no, we're talking about the table sitting empty for 15 minutes, vs the six waiting walk-in customers who were sat at the table, since *nobody* from the op's party had shown up and called by the time of the res.

                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                      Fine. A question: what would YOU define as a reasonable time to have to wait to be seated at a restaurant if you've arrived on time for your reservation?

                                                      Thanks

                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                        jfood always calls if he might be late, or even cutting it close. He feels it is common courtesy. NEVER has the hostess said anything other than "thank you, your table will be ready when you get here." Without that call the customer is assuming there is a grace period when one might not be in the cards. If a customer shows up late w/o the call, caveat emptor. The customer is in COMPLETE control of arrival time. Yup, traffic or emergency may cause a delay, but just call and explain, but it is the customer in control.

                                                        To your question on "how long" for a table. That's not a fair comparison for the following reason. Someone else is probably sitting there. It is outside the control of the restaurant other than upsetting the arriving or departing customer. Damned if s/he does; damned if s/he doesn't. There is no win unless the restaurant informs early seaters that the table will need to be turned at X:00PM. Then the vitriol comes out with many people of "how dare they tell me to leave." People who book at the second/third seating implicitly agree that some people may linger, part of the gig unfortunately.

                                                        If someone thinks there is a 5 or 10 or 15 minute rule, then at some point they may find that is not the case 100% of the time. Then they will kick themselves all the way to McDonalds for not making the call, and will always call in the future.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          First point - Some have suggested that arriving literally at 9:01PM for a 9:00PM reservation should jeopardize one's reservation. Do you agree with that as well?
                                                          Second point - So if a restaurant is overbooked or if by some other miscalculation of theirs seatings are running 5-10 minutes later they don't then owe the customer a phone call? To answer my own question, no. I regularly wait some time before being seated and never complain about it (because I'm a reasonable person). Now if it's longer than that I may have a problem. But surely I don't need a phone call from the restaurant to tell me that I'll be seated at 9:05 rather than 9:00PM. Get it?

                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                            First Point Opinion/Answer - If you show up for a 9:01 flight that left at 9:00 should they have held it for you? If you arrive at the Front Desk at the Airport at 8:50 for that flight and still have to go through security should they hold the flight? You should be there in time for your reservation or flight. So if Mickey is pointing to 9 and 12 and the customer is not there and they have not called, the restaurant can give the table away. They are under no obligation to perform the "Ah let's give them 15 minutes." Long way to say yes not being there at 900 does jeopardize your being seated at the 900 reserved table.

                                                            Second Point Opinion/Answer - How would the MOD know? There is always that possibility that the people at the table will jump up at 859 and say "OMG, our time is up." And jfood will take the other side of that bet. And yup, everyone has waited past the time they reserved a table, a flight, a drs appointment, a manny/peddy. But as jfood stated in his last post, it is more likely the "self-entitled" people who have camped out at the table at fault, not the restaurant. Sorta like blaming and dinging the waiter for a kitchen mistake.

                                                            What's a reasonable person like you and jfood supposed to do? Gotta suck it up and wait. But in the grand scheme of things waiting 15 minutes for a good meal takes a lot less time than waiting 15 minutes for a delayed flight. Thank you Yoggi Berra.

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              I find this whole thing amazing. To your response to the first point I'll ask you straight out, would you as the owner and manager of a restaurant bump a guest's reservation for being literally one minute late?
                                                              For the second, you seem to be willing to make excuses for the restaurant (which is absolutely fine with me) but you then have zero tolerance for the guests being AT ALL late. Both the guests and the restaurant should be cut some miniscule slack.

                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                chinon since when does the world change to suit one person??? jfood uses a good example, if youre one minute late for a flight, they slam that door in your face. People should take the responsibility to be there on time and ready to rock if they expect the best treatment.

                                                                1. re: Pearl820

                                                                  I think that folks are refusing to see this terms of degrees but instead looking at it only in binary terms; as in, one is either "pro-late" or "pro-on-time". I am pro-reasonable. I therefore think that I should not have my reservation bumped if I'm in the restaurant lobby at my reservation time, check my coat and then get to the front desk at a minute after. Do you?

                                                                  1. re: Pearl820

                                                                    I hold restaurants to a higher standard of service than I maintain for my HMO and the airline industry.

                                                                    1. re: GilbyEast

                                                                      Taking your comment literally: that's pretty much the problem with the restaurant industry and both health care and the airline industry.

                                                                    2. re: Pearl820

                                                                      If you were making a reservation at a restaurant you had never been to, and the person taking those reservations told you, 'please be exactly on time or early. Like an airline, we WILL close the door on your reservation if you are even three minutes late"....umm....what sort of treatment would you call that? Would you cheerfully say, 'oh ok, I am always on time, so no problem'. or would you think to yourself..."hmm, do I detect a bit of attitude at this restaurant?"

                                                                    3. re: Chinon00

                                                                      C

                                                                      Jfood is actually giving everyone slack. If the customer calls and says they will be late they get a lot of slack to get there. If the resto has some squatters, they get slack to get the table turned.

                                                                      To the questions -

                                                                      No jfood would not bump a reservation. If the party is there on time they get the table. That's jfood definition of bumping. Since time is a continuum, when 900 shows up the MOD looks up and say "Chinon Party of 6" and noone answers, a line goes through the name. Then "Jfood party of 6" and jfood raises his paw and goes to the table. When MOD returns to lecturn, the Chinon Party is there. So the MOD did not bump someone for being one minute late he bumped the party for not being there. Sorry for the binary answer but either you are there or you are not. Jfood struggles with the in-between. Then when the late party arrives jfood thinks the MOD should try to seat them. Hence they are given slack even if tehy did not call.

                                                                      Jfood is not making excuses for the restaurant but in example two all the data is available on whether the party is there or not. There is another independent variable in the equation, i.e. the squatters. Jfood is actually giving the squatters the slack, not the restaurant.

                                                                      Hope that gets you a better answer. If not we can do the do-loop.

                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                        I hope that we can all appreciate the miniscule brackets of time we are discussing in the context of a busy weekend evening in a restaurant. Anyway, I think that we agree; if I arrive in the very near vicinity of my reservation there should be no worries about being seated very near my reservation time.

                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                          yes, jfood appreciates the brackets of time and hopefully people also understand that the MOD is not clairvoyant. The party is not there and has not called s/he needs to assume that it's a no-show. And when the delayed party does arrive s/he should try to seat the reserving party. but the timing should be described as "market priced", i.e. when a table opens. so in a perfect world being seated "very near" the reserved time, hopefully yes but "no waoories" not always the case.

                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            "hopefully yes but "no woories" not always the case."

                                                                            Yeah, I'm afraid that that's where we part company in this very specific circumstance. I expect not to be significantly inconvenienced for being literally "one minute" late to a restaurant (just me). And if the restaurant did have an issue with me arriving "one minute" late (or even brought it to my attention), I probably wouldn't desire to return to that type of restaurant anyway. But you should feel free to.

                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                              jfood would love for the no worries (or waoories as jfood's fat paws typed before coffee this morning) to be the standard, but if there is not a table to seat someone, what's a MOD to do, other than his best efforts. And jfood agrees that being one minute late should not lead to significant inconvenience, but again the MOD can only use best efforts. And thirdly jfood agrees that is someone is late and there are tables to be had, the MOD should never point it out, simply say good evening and your table is this way, have a nice dinner.

                                                                              Jfood thinks that sums up a pretty iterative discussion. C, enjoy your beers today in beautiful Mt. Airy and be careful out there, weather does stink.

                                                              2. re: Chinon00

                                                                i generally arrive 10 mins early for a res, just as i would if seeing the doctor, trying to "make a tee time," any other type of appointment or event, particularly if it's my first visit to the restaurant. i check in with the host, tell her/him i'm early for the res & that i'll be happy to hang out in the bar area until such time as the table is ready. the host is always happy to be ahead of the game, & the table is often available at that time, so i'm often sat at my table early-- instant gratification, and my party gets their app orders in before the rest of the 8:00 res-es.

                                                                i don't expect the table to be ready 10 mins beforehand, i plan on having a nice beverage and a chat with my party in the bar area and having there be an open-ended half hour window some time during which we'll be sat at the table. nobody gets bent out of shape, nobody throws a hissy, nobody's rushed. if there's a snafu and someone's lingering at "our" table, we've already got a rapport with the staff and they feel comfortable breaking it to us that it may be another 10 minutes for the table, so sorry ms. soupkitten, how about another round for your party on the house while you wait. of course i'd cut a high-flying place some slack when they seem extremely busy. interestingly, i can't recall ever waiting an "unreasonable" amount of time, so i wouldn't know how long that would be.

                                                                i also agree completely with jfood's post.

                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                  the jfood have an 8-some that go out every 2-3 weeks. They now meet at the resto 30 minutes early (if they have a separate bar area) or at another bar in the neighborhood 30 minutes early so everyone is there on time, in case of any unexpected delays. That way the huggy-thing gets taken care of away from the table where everyone has to get up bump the other tables give the air kisses and then sit back down. Plus those that drink can have a relaxing drink prior to the 2-hour clock starting at the table.

                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                    I was thinking the same thing, I mean don't most people get to a restaurant early for their reservation anyway? That's kinda common sense. For me if the res is at 9, I get there anywhere from 15 - 30 mins early depending on whether or not they have good drinks/nice bar area where I want to hang out.

                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                      "of course i'd cut a high-flying place some slack when they seem extremely busy."

                                                                      I won't ask what "high-flying" means but I'm glad that you've shown some tolerance for at least one party in this equation.

                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                        "so sorry ms. soupkitten, how about another round for your party on the house while you wait."

                                                                        I am literally laughing out loud, lately I seem to wait for 30-45 minutes for my reservations. I have yet to have anyone at the front offer to buy me a drink. That must be a midwest thing.
                                                                        And, I am always on time, or call in advance if running late.

                                                                    2. re: soupkitten

                                                                      i would be sorry to know that i, as a walk-in, was given the only available table in a restaurant when that table was reserved and the party was late by two minutes. given the choice, i would not take that table until at least 10 minutes had passed. i would also have my doubts about the hostess' suitability for her job, if she is that uncaring, as well as the MOD, if he is that inflexible. it's called the service industry for a reason. if a restaurant cannot afford to occasionally leave one or two tables empty for a few minutes, then they should not accept reservations.

                                                                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                        I suspect that if the restaurant knew at the time that the two-minute-late party was running two (or even ten or fifteen) minutes late, they wouldn't be offering up the table to walk-ins.

                                                                        The whole point is that they offer up the table when they *don't* know.

                                                                        1. re: tubman

                                                                          I didn't include this point in my OP because I didn't forsee it being relevant to the immediate question, but one of us in the party did call that afternoon (well in advance of the actual reservation) to confirm the time. That person wasn't sure about exactly when the reservation was set for. Any decent restaurant should take that call to imply that these people may be more likely to show up given the fact that they called the day of the reservation to confirm the time. So should they really offer up the table so quickly when they *should* know?

                                                                          1. re: Bhutani

                                                                            Actually Bhutani, that could have unfortunately had the opposite effect. Confirming the reservation earlier in the day reinforced the fact that you did indeed know the time, which could have led them to believe you were not going to show when you weren't there at the appointed hour.

                                                                            1. re: Suzy Q

                                                                              With that sort of twisted logic, you would be a perfect candidate to head up the management team at Dolce Vita.

                                                                              1. re: Bhutani

                                                                                Well you yourself said the restaurant "should" know. Doesnt that mean that the diner "should" know too?

                                                                            2. re: Bhutani

                                                                              i have one question--okay 2. did you leave a mobile phone # when you made your res??? and did the restaurant call you-- or attempt to call you--prior to the res time?

                                                                              "any decent restaurant"? you've already said that this establishment is much more than "any decent restaurant." you stated that you were a huge fan and that they had perhaps the best pizzas in ALL of the lone star state-- see your op. . . so now they are a bunch of foisting charlatans with a poor product? i'm confused-- it sounds like they are busy, just like any small place with a truly great product becomes *very* quickly, and when there is a high demand for a high quality product in nice surroundings-- then-- er, it gets hard to get a table there. and they have people waiting. and if someone's late for a res, there's quite a chance they'll lose that table. last time i checked.

                                                                              1. re: Bhutani

                                                                                B

                                                                                Just to play devil's adovocate. Do you really think the person who answered the phone earlier in the day then picked up a pen and wrote on the reservations list, "these people called to ask what time they had a reservation so they are definitely coming."

                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                  Of course they didn't write anything down. But my response was to another's comment that if they knew I was going to "honor" my reservation, then they would have given me a grace period. As I have stated previously, I was under the impression when I got there that I was on time so I didn't think that I needed to call to inform them.

                                                                                  To your point SK just because they serve a good product, which I have been consistent in stating that they do; doesn't mean that they hostess and manager that night weren't shisters. Good food and good service can be mutually exclusive.

                                                                                  1. re: Bhutani

                                                                                    Okeedokee, if Tony the day manager did not write anything down, how would Tina, the night manager know that the B party called? Now they are "shisters (sic)"? Jfood can give you not stenographers, but can not get there on shysters.

                                                                                    It appears to jfood that a party was not there when called, they arrived, bad information was conveyed, the party was seated within 20 minutes, and the food was really good.

                                                                                    If you think you were right and they were wrong, that's cool, but jfood probably agrees with swsidejim. sorry.

                                                                                2. re: Bhutani

                                                                                  I agree. It showed your intention to be there.
                                                                                  In the end, Bhutani, we can all argue the many issues that your experience touches on, and some of us can take a strict interpretation of table times and others can take a more flexible interpretation of them... aside from all of this, and whether or not the restaurant has a right to do what they did, the fact remains that they are not an establishment that tries to give their patrons the benefit of the doubt, nor are they gracious when it comes to dealing with minor timing issues or misunderstandings. If you are looking for true hospitality from a service-minded establishment, I suggest you dine elsewhere. I know I would, if that ever happened to me.

                                                                      2. A reservation is a courtesy extended by a restaurant that many really desire, jfood being one of those. The customer has a responsibility to be there at the appropriate time, or to call to say they will be late . The restaurant normally holds the table for 0-15 minutes, but if the time comes and noone is there they can absolutely give it to the next party. There are no grace periods, per se. If the people arrive and the table was given away as yours was, the question that should be asked by the customer, after an apology for being late is "how long might it be for another table."

                                                                        It appears that this could have been handled better. Given your opening excitement of snagging a reservation, jfood can only assume this is a restaurant with a tough time getting in. In other words it is busy. A reservation was made and noone in a party of 6 arrived on time. The restaurant gave away the table that no one was there for. But it appears that the wheels fell off the car when you received a less than responsive reply from the hostess. Then it esclated since you got upset, MOD did not help, you got more upset, discussion escalated, feelings hurt, finally table granted. There are so many process errors to fix in that scenario, jfood is amazed that (a) you stayed and (b) you had a good time. Kudos to you.

                                                                        For argument's sake, let's assume you arrived within your 15 minute grace window (say 14 minutes late) and the MOD would have said, "I will have a table for you in 5 minutes, since you were delayed" that probably would have been acceptable to you. So in the end, even after all the process errors, the MOD and you came up with a win-win solution, and you had a good meal with friends.

                                                                        Would the above cause the restaurant to hit jfood's DNR list, if the food was good, he would definitely go back.

                                                                        1. I think the restaurant was a bit harsh as there could have been discrepancies between clocks. Believe me, I've worked in enough places where the clocks were pushed ahead because people wanted to get out earlier.

                                                                          However, I think that this situation could have been averted with a phone call.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                            yes, just a simple phone call--to say you were running late--thank you to the 3 or 4 above posters- esp soupkitten, couldnt have said it btter myself- didnt have time to reply back while commuting home!

                                                                          2. You said: "Instead of thinking on our feet and asking to be shown where and to whom this make believe table was given was away in the past 90 seconds, we all threw a collective fit and asked to speak to the manager."

                                                                            You were late, and then pitched a hissyfit. And were still seated within a very reasonable amount of time. I don't see where you have any right to be indignant. As others have said, a simple phone call would've been appropriate - your reaction, however, was not.

                                                                            1. dunno, while i don't agree that a hissy fit fixes much....i agree with the OP's suspicions about this "policy". Assuming the OP was in fact accurate with the 2-3 minute window (which i don't see as "late") and found the table had been given away. Seriously, had the hostess REALLY seated a table of six THAT fast that they would have been already tucked away within that short time period?

                                                                              Sounds to me like the table in question was probably given away long before the OP even showed up.

                                                                              1. To flip the situation would I be a reasonable guest at a restaurant if I had a 9PM reservation, wasn't seated until 9:05PM and through a fit over it?

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                  well...hmmm.....if the restaurant insists that guests not even be a minute or three late, perhaps it IS reasonable for the guest to insist that they be seated right on time?

                                                                                  I understand that restaurants need to be protect themselves against no-shows, but I think that a restaurant that is not going to cut a few minutes slack shouldn't expect to be cut a few minutes slack either....

                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                    I wouldn't say that you're EVER a "reasonable" guest when you throw a fit in a restaurant. That automatically equates you to a petulant five year old.

                                                                                    The bottom line is that if you don't like the resto's policies, you have the very simple choice of either adapting to them, or not dining there.

                                                                                    1. re: Suzy Q

                                                                                      That is not my point. My question was a rhetorical one. Sure, a restaurant and an individual have the right to their own policies. But having a ZERO late time policy for either is unreasonable IMHO. Theoretically I could be in the restaurant parking lot at my reservation time and proceed to walk inside and then be told that I've LOST MY RESERVATION?! Surely this isn't what you are espousing?

                                                                                  2. If I am cutting it close and might be late to meet my friends, even by two minutes, I will call. The restaurant and its other patrons deserve the same respect. Unless you call, they have no way of knowing that you are not just one of many no-shows, and they have the right to seat that table at the appointed time.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                      Seriously, unless you are a complete Poindexter, you can’t inform your friends and/or the restaurant that you will be 2 MINUTES LATE at any SIGNIFICANT time BEFORE the actual reservation. You may know that you will be 2 MINUTES LATE getting out of the cab or when parking outside the restaurant. And to call the restaurant at your reservation time to say “we’re in the parking lot and we’ll be inside in 00:45” is not necessary IMHO. Chill out.

                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                        In my post above, I said I call if I will be even a few minutes late. Would like to also reiterate as I said that I may be somewhat obsessive about it.(certainly, hubby thinks I am). I would also like to reiterate that my obsessiveness is NOT based primarily on concern for the restaurant, rather, it is a partly (or perhaps not) irrational fear that I will be 'punished' somehow if I am just a few minutes late....(ie by having to wait in the bar, not getting a good table, having my table taken away....)

                                                                                        Indeed, the last time I was late to a restaurant it was because we pulled up to the 'valet' sign at the restaurant, waited about five minutes for the valet, valet never came, so I eventually had hubby sit there while I went inside the restaurant to ask where the heck valet was...only to be told they weren't offering valet that day (but had somehow forgotten to take down the sign!).

                                                                                        And yes, I threw a bit of a 'tizzy' fit, if by a 'tizzy fit' one means sternly saying to the hostess: 'so WHY the heck do you have a valet sign as usual if you don't have valet service as usual?'. And yes, my obsessiveness probably means I wasn't quite as nice about it as I could have been....(I didn't yell or anything like that, but I made it clear that I was not pleased. to their credit, they were very apologetic, and even bought us a free dessert, which was completely unexpected and not necessary...though I was amazed I was apparently the first person to complain...).

                                                                                        and no, they hadn't given our table away (as far as I know, it was four of us and the place wasn't full)...but the point is: had I been OP: they WOULD HAVE given our table away! Should I have been expected to phone them at 6:59 and say: 'it is now a minute to seven and we are out here at the valet; where the heck are you?'

                                                                                        So, yes, while I do call, it is primarily for self-protection. It doesn't mean I think I should be expected to call if I will be less than five minutes late. I agree with you and feel that I shouldn't have to call if I am going to arrive within five minutes of my reservation. I also feel that if the grace period is going to be less than ten minutes, I should be told in advance (in which case I will probably end up being half an hour early :-)). The reason I should be told in advance (IMO) is that people think ten minutes is the standard. Indeed, whenever we are driving to the restaurant and I am telling hubby to drive a bit faster, he always says..'chill...they will hold the table for ten minutes after the reservation time...'.

                                                                                        Come to think of it, clarifying the standard in advance might make me safer on the road....

                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                          you make a good point susancinsf..... I regularly travel to restaurants an hour away (not much around here)....i'd rather my attention be on the road, than clock watching. I guess that means i should be a better planner, but who hasn't had an "oh shit" moment, after travelling along behind a slowpoke driver or maybe having had to slow down due to road conditions. It might be splitting hairs, but i'm enough of a leadfoot as it is, don't need extra encouragement. Plus i don't blue tooth, nor do i carry a phone book in my car, so i'd be fishing around for my cell phone trying to dial and drive. I'd have to either pull over on the highway and call 411 or into a gas station. ...like that wouldn't make me late.

                                                                                    2. The restaurant is in *the hospitality business*. Their behavior was not hospitable in 1) not explaining their policy clearly at the time the reservation was made 2) not giving a short grace period 3) how the hostess & mod dealt with it. If they had phrased things differently the OP & guests would probably have been fine. If the OP had held the door open for an exiting patron with a walker, that could have caused a 2 min. delay! Waiting 5 - 10 min. or trying to call the OP would have been hospitable & and good customer relations. Who hasn't ever been delayed a few minutes by things outside of your control & who hasn't ever been on time or early and had to wait regardless of a reservation? It's a two way street & a good MOD would realize that & phrase/handle things better. Obviously they don't really care & are content to annoy 6 customers. Poor customer service can put such a bad taste in your mouth that it can over ride the taste of good food!

                                                                                      1. Its quite severe and not very good in terms of customer service - but honestly, I wish more places would do this sort of thing. As someone who is a real fuddy duddy and constantly annoyed about how 90% of people are 5-15 minutes late for everything, a little tough love here and there would fix 'em right up.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                                          I don't think any of us came away from this experience learning anything but the fact none of us would be returning to this establishment no matter how good the food. The restaurant's management has issues and made a mistake in implementing their policy. I have no problem with the policy but it needs to be left in the hands of people with some common sense. Tough love from people you respect can teach someone a lesson. This kind of treatment from people you have never met before usually only breeds anger and frustration.

                                                                                          1. re: Bhutani

                                                                                            As I said, not very good in terms of customer service - but as others have pointed out in this thread, there are all sorts of examples in our lives where being late is not tolerated. IMO, being late shouldn't ever really be tolerated (sans consequence) and I don't really see why people think they're deserving special treatment for being late.

                                                                                            1. re: Bhutani

                                                                                              Bhutani,

                                                                                              If at the very least you have not learned it may be a good idea to call the restaurant fifteen minutes before your reserved time for reservation and affirm you are near, if you are not inside the restaurant physically already........you will for sure experience this problem again. With all the comments presented thus far, you simply cannot see the other side and your position is from entitlement, as in, How dare they do this to me.

                                                                                              I have refrained from entering this discussion earlier, to see the direction where this was going. The comments responding in opposition to your view, you will not accept, and there in lies the problem. You only want comments to agree with you and you do not hear or comprehend what others are saying. I can only surmise the same holds true for your experience at the restaurant. You make negative comments about the staff and your condescending words about the Manager/Busboy proves to me you have an ax to grind.

                                                                                              Tough love apparently does not apply to you because it's apparent you do not respect others at the restaurant or anyone having an opposing view from yours.

                                                                                              1. re: subhut

                                                                                                Some people have a very strong distaste for lateness. While others in this current “celebrated” or “celebrity” restaurant culture wish to sort of vicariously associate themselves with places almost like it were some exclusive club or clique. And like all hyper-conformists they will do ANYTHING to stay in the good graces of particularly celebrated restaurants because in maintaining this “relationship” they assume that they will, among other things, gain the approval of their peers. The rest of us know where to draw a limit; namely, if we catch flack from a restaurant for being one minute late. I like maintaining some of my dignity.

                                                                                          2. I find this discussion fascinating. While in no way feeling entitled, I have always assumed that my table reservation (and I don't make reservations at chain restos, so there's no corporate policy involved) would be held for 15 minutes, though I would say that's the acceptable limit. If I realize I will be later than 10 minutes, I generally call and let them know. In most places, people will say 'no problem, don't worry.'

                                                                                            I do understand that the dining/restaurant culture in the US is much more geared toward turning over tables, whereas you can expect most restos in Germany to not only save your table *cum tempore*, but letting you linger as long as you want to. And yet they obviously manage to make a profit. Go figure.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                              I also feel it is fascinating. I now know three things:

                                                                                              1) Always confirm that a restaurant will hold my table for 15 minutes

                                                                                              2) Give my cell phone number, and program their number into my cell

                                                                                              3) Do not eat at Dolce Vita in Houston (I have relatives there)

                                                                                            2. Some people are apparently VERY hung up on punctuality. But this "zero tolerance" policy is simply not reflected in restaurant culture to any significant level (except for apparently a pizzeria in Houston). I can live with that.

                                                                                              1. Far be it from me to cite Michael Bauer (critic for the SF Chron) as an expert on this (he doesn't get a lot of love on the SF Board, including from me)....but I was reading something else in his blog and noticed he had proposed a "Restaurant Bill of Rights". Ok, one could argue that calling it a Bill of Rights is sort of a ridiculous concept, I suppose, but it is interesting to me that as of when I am writing this only one reader even commented on his first of several proposed 'rules for being a good diner', ie that:.

                                                                                                '1. Restaurants have the right to seat someone else at your table if you're more than 15 minutes late, and haven't called to let them know.'

                                                                                                And that person who did comment was upset about an experience where he HAD called but the table was still given away anyway....

                                                                                                In other words, I do find it interesting that among those who read his column, the fifteen minutes was apparently considered a reasonable standard, not something to comment on...

                                                                                                Edited: re-read the blog and there were two others I missed the first time who commented that they thought it was rude to be late, but weren't really specifically commenting on that rule number one...oner person did say he called if he was going to be more than five minutes late, which is something I also do.

                                                                                                See:

                                                                                                http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/s...

                                                                                                It may be an indication that in a certain subgroup in SF at least, fifteen minutes is seen as a reasonable standard. Moreover, I think common sense backs up a standard somewhat longer than three minutes, because, as I mentioned before, I think if they are honest with themselves most readers of this thread would admit to being a bit turned off if while making the reservation they were told, 'please note, if you are even three minutes late, we will give your table away and treat you as a walk-in'.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                  This standard is very much the norm here in the NY area, as well. In fact, while following this thread, there have been several times when I have thought to myself: ' Wow, this conversation would not even be taking place on the Manhattan board. ' I bet that 99% of responses would be horrified by this kind of policy, which to me, smacks of arrogance and bad service.

                                                                                                2. lots of people are crying foul on the "2 minutes." i would agree that 2 minutes is an incremental amount of time. but would the response be different if the op was in *fact* more than 2 minutes late? if the op was only 2 minutes late, wouldn't the other tables from the 7:00 res block, or whatever, still be in the process of being sat at the time the op's party walked in?? the fact that they weren't points to a far more likely series of events. what if this is what really happened:

                                                                                                  6:50-7:02 seating for the 7:00 res block occurs at the pizzeria. patrons who were *actually* on time are seated.

                                                                                                  7:02 host & mod check the book. one 7:00 res for a 6 top remains with nobody present from the party, no phone call. the restaurant is full and there are hungry patrons patiently waiting. they've been told it will be 20-45 mins to get a table. at the front of the list are couple x, couple y, & couple z.

                                                                                                  7:03 mod asks the host to give the phone # on the 6-top res a call while he seats another table.

                                                                                                  7:05 host: "it went to voicemail." from experience, the mod has learned that a late-show is 9/10 times a no-show. he makes a judgement call. he tells the host he's going to break up the 6-top into 3 deuces for the three waiting couples & inform the waitstaff of the change and that someone will have to pick up a deuce not in their regular section, that if anyone from the 6 top shows up or calls back to run and find him, hold the show, the res showed up. this process might take-- what: 4-5 minutes if they're on their game? less? this place sounds very busy, they must be pretty efficient, right?

                                                                                                  7:08-7:12 couple x, couple y and couple z are shown to their tables. they are ecstatic to have had their wait shortened. the whole house is now full and waitstaff and kitchen are scrambling but keeping up.

                                                                                                  sometime after this the op shows up. "oh no," the host says, dismayed and with no sense of guile: "we gave your table away." op's party gets upset. whether they "collectively threw a fit" or not, and whether they actually called the host a liar to her face or only behind her back, the mod and host have a huddle and decide to do whatever they can to accommodate the late-show, who adamantly claim to be only 2 minutes late and that they are entitled to a 15 minute grace period anyway (that's how it is at applebee's on a wednesday). the mod and host cobble together a 6-top somehow. who cares how, not the op, not us.

                                                                                                  7:20-7:30 op's party is seated and served. they have a nice time. it should be "all's well that ends well" for everyone.

                                                                                                  from the op: note that this pizzeria only takes reservations for parties of 6 or more, smaller parties are seated as quickly as the tables turn-- this place is popular and busy, & reservations are hard to come by. i've never been to houston, but these policies sound like busy, busy, busy to me. and the op was not a first-timer. knew the place got packed with a waiting list of 2 & 4 top walk-ins (they *can't* make a res, they wait patiently for a table to open). knew that this is how the place runs. still did not call to inform them that they would be running late, hold the table.

                                                                                                  to still want something else intangible from this restaurant that did everything possible to accommodate a largish-size late-show (along with everyone else) on a packed night seems downright petty to me.

                                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                    There is are so many hypotheticals in your post that make your argument less than credible. There was no phone call to us from the hostess or mod to the reserving party. You and many others have argued that there was likely no sense of guile or ill-will on the part of the hostess or manager. I was there and that is completely not the case. I willingly admit that our table was sat within 20-25 minutes and that the food was good. I did not need to offer these factors if I had some outlandish/unreasonable axe to grind.

                                                                                                    A number of posters continue to argue that b/c we were sat in a reasonable amount of time that I have no reason to be upset. Lets forget when we were shown to the table. It is and should be irrelevant to the argument. We could have been sat within 5 minutes of showing up; but I, as well as my party, would have left unsatisfied. We were treated callously by both the hostess and mod from the onset. That is a fact that will not change no matter how many hypotheticals any want to throw out there (i.e. that we habitually tardy people who feel entitled).

                                                                                                    1. re: Bhutani

                                                                                                      B

                                                                                                      If you could help us with the persistent description of the way you were treated by the hostess and mod as callous and rude when in your OP you stated:

                                                                                                      "I was told by the hostess that since we were late that they had given our table away. When I stared at my watch and then back at her, she shrugged her shoulders and explained that if the party isn't available when the table is ready the table is given away" and "The manager...again conveyed to us the restaurant's ridiculous reservation policy"

                                                                                                      An explanation of the policy and a shrug is not really either of these. Jfood like many believe they bent over backwards from the description of the events as related by you. You showed up after the reserved time, (albeit by your description 1-2 minutes but that is neither here nor there) and everything that the FOH did was not acceptable.

                                                                                                      This appears to be a no good deed goes unpunished ending and hopefully you find other restaurants that meet your standards.

                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                        A 1-2 minute "late you lose" policy at a restaurant that purportedly accepts reservations IS the heart of this issue, (certainly both here, there and anywhere).

                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                          S

                                                                                                          Jfood understands and has explained above what he feels is appropriate from the viewpoint of both the resto and the custo.

                                                                                                          But jfood thinks the more over-arching question is how does the MOD know? How does the MOD know that the "clock will stop" at 2 minutes when he calls the name and noone shows up at the station versus a complete no-show. Are you suggesting that every 800 reso needs to be an empty table until 815?

                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                            I have never seen a restaurant that is waiting for a party with a reservation to check in call out the name of that party to see if they have arrived, (but for some odd reason decided not to check in with the host / hostess when they arrived). The restaurant host / hostess waits for someone from the reserving party to come up to the check in desk and tell them that they have arrived.

                                                                                                            No restaurant that takes reservations gives away your table after 2 minutes. If they do they have no business saying that they take reservations, because they have effectively negated that aspect of their business. Zero to 7 minutes your table is held without question. 7 to 15 minutes you should have called to let them know you were on your way and to give them your ETA. If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late you throw yourself on the mercy of the court and take your punishment like a good soldier.

                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                              S

                                                                                                              The jfoods primarilly go to restaurants that are reservations only on weekends so everybody does check in at the desk upon arrival and the hostess usually either seats them or asks them to wait in the bar area while the table is being readied. Then the hostess finds them and tells them the table is ready. More likely than not the hostess is soooo busy seating others at about the same time that your 0-7 minute timeframe is just a result of being busy listening to names, having someone seated, etc. So if noone has checked in for the party it is a no-show until someone does show.
                                                                                                              But in a place like this pizzeria, they only take reservations for parties of 6. And therefore there is "the list" to deal with. so jfood would think that the name-calling would occur (smith party of 3), or those silly little beepers would start flashing in someone's hand.

                                                                                                              So although jfood would "expect" the reservation to be held for a few minutes, if you don;t show when they call your name, a fast paced pizza joint is going to the next name on the list or in this case break the table or seat a walk-in party of 6.

                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                One thing to keep in mind - people keep using the 2 minute comment from the OP as gospel. Even if it actually *was* 2 mins according to the OP's watch, that doesn't mean that the disparity between when the restaurant's clock said their reservation was and his "2 mins late" was actually a 2 min difference.

                                                                                                                Heck, I get into it with some of my friends because their watches are never exactly the same and they end up being 5-10 mins late quite frequently. "Well, my watch says I'm on time!". Sorry, my phone which synchs to the atomic clocks a couple of times a day says you're 5-10 mins late.

                                                                                                                It is entirely possible that the restaurant thought the OP was ~10 mins late and he thought he was ~2 mins late, for instance.

                                                                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                  As I previously mentioned, I got the 2 minutes (or 8:02) late from my cell, not my watch. I assume, as you do, that the cell company updates the time regularly.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Bhutani

                                                                                                                    My cell phone is consistently about 8 minutes fast (as compared to the atomic clock my Dad gave me). I don't think that has anything to do with anything, but that makes it a lot like this thread at this point, so I felt it fit in.

                                                                                                              2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                No, I am not suggeting that the table be free and waiting when I enter the door. As Servong states, I would appreciate not having this "late you lose" attitude thrown at me when the customer is essentially on time. The hostess could have just as easily explained that they didn't have our table ready as of yet but would get as seated as soon as they could. As long as the offense isn't egregious (i.e. being 2 minutes late to your reservation), why need to call the customer out?

                                                                                                                Also, as mentioned earlier, names aren't generally "called out" when there is a reservation. The customer checks in with the hostess.

                                                                                                                1. re: Bhutani

                                                                                                                  jfood does not think either of us are going to change positions.

                                                                                                                  If you are upset and do not want to go back and have another good pizza, your choice. But jfood NEVER places a restaurant on his DNR list after one visit because of bad service/good food.

                                                                                                                  And what is described here on Jfood's Bad Service scale is at best a 2.

                                                                                                          2. re: Bhutani

                                                                                                            i was merely offering a possible alternate sequence of events, one that would make more sense than your original post that your table was "instantly" gone in a mere 2 minutes. it does take time to rearrange tables and staffing for different sizes of parties. perhaps you were mistaken about the time you arrived. but you can surely appreciate that this restaurant's business depends on the smaller parties of 2 and 4 who are walk-ins (they can't res) and that if a larger party doesn't show up that it is the mod's prerogative to break the table up to seat these patrons quickly.

                                                                                                            at a no-res-for-smaller-parties establishment that's in high demand, the tables will turn just as fast as they can to accommodate the hungry diners on the wait list, and the mod and host will expedite this as fast as they can fill demand. what you've described sounds like nothing more or less than this very common situation. since you stated that you'd eaten at this establishment before and were a fan, and were aware that it was difficult to get a reservation, and that they weren't available for parties of less than 6, surely you had a good handle on how things run at this restaurant. presumably, you'd arrived with a smaller party on previous occasions and put your name on the wait list as well, and were grateful to be shown to a table quickly. that's why it doesn't make sense to myself and others about why you thought your party was entitled to a fifteen minute grace time, or why you weren't prompt/didn't call when late for fear of losing your res in the first place.

                                                                                                            i wasn't there and can't speak to the comportment of staff, but it doesn't sound like they were terribly rude--after all if they had been, you'd have walked and gone to another dining establishment. instead you waited 15 minutes while they did everything possible to accommodate your party. you were seated, served, dined, had a "nice meal" and left. i will say that the demeanor of terribly busy people when faced with an unexpected problem that makes more work for themselves could appear "callous" to the extremely sensitive observer. aside from this, i've always cut slack for staff members of any establishment with the word "pizzeria" in the name. apparently in houston and other environs this rule may not apply.

                                                                                                            i don't know what to make of your going from the restaurant policy being the problem to now the foh staff being the problem.

                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                              This isn't your standard neighborhood pizzeria. Even if it was, why would you cut more slack to them then others? This restaurant is of the Mozza (LA), Osteria (Philly) ilk. It was opened by a a chef of a 3 star Italian restaurant serving high end pizza, antipasti and the like.

                                                                                                              1. re: Bhutani

                                                                                                                why would i cut the folks slinging pizzas slack? same reason you cut the lady in labor some slack! they're the ones really working!

                                                                                                                when dining out, cutting the people serving us some slack can encourage better digestion, lower blood pressure, a better time is had by all. showing up a few minutes early and sipping a beer beats standing by the door looking at your watch every two minutes and cursing the lying conniving dastardly hostess and the callous shifty-eyed two inches too short mod under your breath. you know, those people who accommodated you, the ones who served your party, the ones who fed you. imo dining out should be about enjoyment, good food and good company. if the company and the food are great, i can get over a couple of personality bumps with the staff. i find that just being nice to people comes back to me a thousandfold-- i get wonderful, cheerful, friendly service wherever i go, people remember me on my second visit, all sorts of swell treatment and nice perks follow, and it just gets easier and easier all the time.

                                                                                                                i think that this makes a case that even people who are not naturally kind or compassionate could try being nice in restaurants more-- they'll get stuff from it. like the chef's home-cured 3 year old ham instead of that other stuff. a sample of the good olives, for free. a genuine smile from one's server. being a good customer involves returning the ball occasionally when it's bounced to you, Bhutani. who the heck hasn't been late before? yet they were only doing their jobs following the house policy, because there was no way for them to know you were coming. so apologize for inadvertently breaking an appointment or agreement and work *with* the staff, not against them! if you absolutely can't deal with this restaurant's policy you shouldn't go back. many other posters would say that that is all there is to this issue, shut up already soupkitten, but hey can't we discuss this as a community: what does it mean when a really great chef opens up a little place with a really great product that blows up and gets hugely popular & packed all the time, overwhelming the staff and space. . . and there is a transition period when it really is difficult to get perfect service there, despite the food being wonderful? does this chef and this pizzeria deserve to be punished for having the growing pains associated with being successful? or does this chef and this pizzeria deserve to be punished for implementing their own individual house policies, described by the op as "ridiculous?" do they deserve to lose all their customers, perhaps leading to closure, perhaps leading to a sad hole in the vibrant dining culture of houston?

                                                                                                                am i the only one who goes into these little places, and feels an intense feeling of pride that my community is supporting a great restaurant and a great chef with a great product, no matter how long i may have to wait for a table? it makes me happy to think that despite this country's economy and the barriers and challenges facing those who open little restaurants, somewhere in houston is a thriving pizzeria that serves a great product, and people are appreciating it. do we really want to be so quick to take our business away from the very littlest places with the very best products? wouldn't that mean that like the rest of the country, we're striving for mediocrity in our foodstuff, cutting out anyone who would dare to do their own thing, their own way?

                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                  This post made me purr <g> Wonderful perspective soupkitten.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                    thanks for the support Janet. i promise to everyone i really and truly will shut up after this. i just wanted to note that marco wiles, said pizzeria chef, appears to be on the preliminary (long) ballot for the 2008 james beard awards, best chef southwest, along with just one other chef from houston. i for one sincerely wish chef wiles the best of luck in the awards.

                                                                                                        2. I had to apply a little probability theory to take a stab at this from the restaurant's point-of-view, so here goes.

                                                                                                          First example: Reservation for a party of two. Most likely they're arriving together, in one car. Not there after two minutes? No big deal regardless of whether they're running late or have decided to pull a no-show. It's a two-top, there's a lot of flexibility, skip over their name, give the table to someone there early for their reservation or a walk-in, and it shouldn't be too hard to accomodate the reserving couple if and when they show up.

                                                                                                          Now let's take a reservation for a party of six--not necessarily the Bhutanis. If I were a betting man--and a lot of this is the restaurant management playing the percentages--that most likely means at least two groups meeting up at the restaurant, more likely three couples driving separately (as opposed to six people driving together in one car). In the extreme, it's six singles, each driving solo.

                                                                                                          It's five minutes after reservation time, and nobody from what's likely TWO OR THREE subgroups comprising the party of six are there on time to claim a reservation. One absent group (the party of two) is one thing, two or three absent subgroups (the party of six) is more likely a no-show than just being late. Give the table away.

                                                                                                          Maybe the Bhutanis were all in one car--who knows? It's all about restaurant management playing the percentages from experience, and they are bound to get it wrong sometimes. The larger the group, the better the chance they're driving separately. More subgroups driving separately means a better chance that SOMEBODY from the group should be there on time to claim the reservation, if the group is truly coming at all.

                                                                                                          To take this to the extreme...if you accepted a reservation for a party of 200 people, and none of them were there to claim the reservation two minutes BEFORE the reserved time...would you think they're still coming? Scale it down, and you've got the same theory for the party of 6 not showing up on time.

                                                                                                          1. Wow... This is a great soap opera. How about just never going back to that resturant? Does this type of situation happen a lot at US resturants? Just curious for future reference.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: sleepycat

                                                                                                              Probably the only time this has happened in the history of reservation taking restaurants here in the US of A. Hence the controversy and spirited give and take by we (non Westminster) Hounds.

                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                Indeed .... it is a "soup" opera! I've never seen such a fuss. I think the OP wanted us to back him up, and very few have done that. He keeps interjecting here, and still not finding many who will take his side. Im sorry he feels he was lied to..... and mgmt. could have handled it better. But gee whiz..... he got a table quickly enough, Its not like they threw him and his "hissy fit" party out the door. Get over it and learn to call ahead next time.