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Customers who Split Entrees - Do they Deserve a Table?

  • jfood Feb 17, 2008 01:31 PM
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Another thread had an interesting sub-thread on whether a customer who orders two appetizers or customers who split an entree deserve a table or should eat at the bar. Likewise another thread described how a threesome seated at a 4-top felt they needed to over-order to make up for the empty seat.

Jfood believes in neither, that he deserves a table, is there to order what he would like and others in his party should as well. While others have stated that there should be consideration for the servers' earnings in both cases.

Just curious what others may think of this interesting splitting of views.

  1. How do you feel about just ordering dessert and coffee/tea in a restaurant? I sometimes do, but always ask first if that's OK. These are the responses we get:

    1. Of course, no problem.
    2. You can have dessert/tea by the bar.
    3. I'm sorry, we're only serving dinner.

    So I'm in the camp of if you're not ordering an entree (or the equivalent of), you should probably ask the waitstaff.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Miss Needle

      I think just dessert is slightly different than ordering and splitting an entree and I could see why you might ask in that case. It doesn't bother me in the least when people split/share entrees and or appetizers, you could just as easily order the cheapest things on the menu and have it come out the same. It does bother me a bit when people only order a couple of things and then sit for three hours during dinner rush, but that is an entirely different issue.

      1. re: Miss Needle

        what if i'm eating with a Gf and she wants desert and I want an entre cuz I actually missed my dinnertime and am having a late dinner? Do I get the table or do I have to perch on a bar stool?

        1. re: sleepycat

          table

        2. re: Miss Needle

          I think dessert-only is dependent on time frame/busyness--8pm on a Sat, please sit at the bar. 8pm with plenty of open tables, you're welcome to one.

        3. I have worked on and off as a server to help pay for school (this semester my research is keeping me far too busy for that even!) Here is my experience from both sides of the table:
          Never once have I seated a three-top and expected them to order for four. I have no problem with mixing and matching combinations of entrees/apps/desserts to suit your appetite (who am I to judge what sounds good to you and how hungry you are). I will add to this that I also don't think its *wrong* if you don't order wine with your meal - what you drink is up to you. Yes, if it's the dinner hour and you want a cup of coffee I might steer you towards the bar, but I won't deny you a table. Of course the larger the bill the larger potential tip, but over time everything really does seem to balance out (the analogy of a portfolio of tables is perfect).
          As a customer I want to order what sounds good to me -period. I have been the recipient of a glare/scoff when I decline the suggested glass of wine or whe I order a feww small apps for my meal (often because this is my only meatless option) and it is the most uncomfortable feeling, and in my opinion rude and unprofessional.

          1. Do they DESERVE a table? Of course they deserve a table. How is one to know whether 1. One doesn't feel good and doesn't feel like eating much, 2. They are on diets, 3. They can't afford to eat out much and this in itself is a treat for them. You never know. Customers are customers. Whether they 'deserve' a table should have nothing to do with that.

            1. Some thoughts:

              Of course a paying customer "deserves" a table. Just as I deserve whatever moving square-footage I take up in my co-op or in Target. I am a retail customer, and retail needs to understand that very customer is not valuable just for the dollar signs floating above his or her head. In merchandise retail, I can be treated equally whether I am buying a$3.00 bottle of aspirin (for the headaches these attitudes create) or a $300.00 electronic gadget. I realize that Target does't seat their customers, but hey - they treat us all the same, despite our final tab. I think retail in the restaurant biz should do the same. REGARDLESS of what one orders. I believe the entree-splitting v. server income has been discussed ad infinitum on these boards.

              Three at a four top feeling guilty? Nonsense. My remaining at-home household is three. If we go out to dine, there's no way I will feel guilty about that head count. Unless perhaps the restaurant has triangular tables for just such a situation yet we inexplicably insist on a square table. <g>

              Eating at the bar is often enjoyable, and I will sometimes opt for that. however, there are as many times that I want to sit face to face with my dinner partner. The fact that we may split apps and an entree shouldnt trump the enjoyment of our restaurant experience. If it does, that restaurant has lost a patron. And without patrons, um, there's no business.

              I loathe and detest rude, boorish, ego-centric, demanding and disruptive patrons, any of which can, do and have exploited the need of a restaurant (or other retail) for patrons and will argue for their-way-or-the-highway. Not what I have in mind. I just think those of us who like to go out to eat should not have to weigh all these little idiosynchratic issues.

              Jeez, I think I am feeling cranky this evening!

              Cay

              3 Replies
              1. re: cayjohan

                Cay,
                I think I love you, cranky and all!
                I don't understand some of these threads I read...people over-tipping because they split an app, don't order dessert, or don't fill a 6 or 8 top! This makes no sense to me. My mother and I often share an app, we're big on sharing so we can try a little of everything. We rarely eat dessert, but my father will more than make up for any missed income with the wine bill. I'm a great believer in it all working out in the end. The people drinking may take up a table longer, but, you're making the most $ on alcohol. Our favorite rest. is one in Stamford where I order the salad, mom orders the soup, but they know we share and they split everything for us. Do I expect every place to do that? no ! Do I tip well because they do? absolutely! Should I feel "guilty" if I don't order an espresso and profiteroles and therefore tip extra? Absolutely not!
                I think some those threads get a little crazy sometimes!

                1. re: SweetPea914

                  Thanks SP914 - and my crankiness salutes you. ;-)

                  Cay

                2. re: cayjohan

                  LOL at the idea of triangular 3 top tables! that might actually be cute, it would revolutionize seating layouts as we know them! Cay i know you are local to me and i was amazed to go to one of our local italian-american mom & pops and see a table that could only be described as a very elaborate 1-top!!--that or a throne. . . a booth-style seat, generous size for one diner, too small for 2, with a small-ish, semicircular table set before it, place setting for one, facing the rest of the room. not a stretch at all to imagine junior soprano presiding over the small dining area, greeting well-wishers from time to time over courses of antipasti and tumblers of chianti. . . :)

                  to the question at hand (& assuming they can be accommodated), the customer always deserves a table-- the tables are waiting for the customer's use, that's why they exist! splitting apps/mains, whatever, doesn't matter. if the place is packed & the customer's party just wants apps or just wants desserts & coffee, the staff may try to steer them towards the bar/lounge, (& this is in order to improve service to themselves & all customers) & i'd generally follow that suggestion, or wait until after the rush for a table, myself-- in most cases where the place is not packed it is hopefully a non-issue.

                3. "Customers who Split Entrees - Do they Deserve a Table?"

                  Of course they do. Any other answer to that question is ridiculous.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Suzy Q

                    Of course they deserve a table. Of course paying for four people at a three person table is silly, unless one is an invisible rabbit.

                    I've never had a problem ordering appetizers for both entree and before. It's a routine I've settled on and it works best for me. So do I deserve a table or should I sit at the bar?

                  2. if they want a table they should be given one.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nc213

                      Unless I missed it above no one has pointed out that some restaurants solve the question by charging a supplement for split orders. Of course this practice attracted a lot of controversy in earlier threads.

                      1. re: mexivilla

                        many places charge a buck to split an order thats cool with the xtra plate and silverware

                    2. I'm the one who started this discussion on the other board, so here are my two cents.

                      I don't think this is a question of "deserving" a table. I simply know that when I go out with friends, husband, etc and we're not very hungry and just want appetizers, we sit in the lounge area, not the main, more formal dining room (we were talking about nice restaurants, where the two are separate).

                      If we're at a local neighborhood joint, it's not a big deal, but if I'm at Gary Danko/Per Se/F.L./nice place, I'm taking it to the lounge. I don't get the big deal.

                      1. Sure they deserve a table.

                        Would I ever split an entree? Nope, when I go out to eat, I go out to eat, I dont count calories, and I dont share an entree.

                        1. I think a lot to do with it is the fact that I've only worked at very high-end places, where your tables are at a premium. It's not only prime real estate, but being high end, the tables don't turn quickly, if at all. So to have a table only eating appetizers really, really hurts financially. The restaurant turns away a table because your table is lingering over appetizers and dessert.

                          And yes, I know not every table's going to be great, but aren't waiters/restaurants allowed to be annoyed by cheaper guests, as long as it's done out of the guest's sight?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                            Annoyed, yes. Hate, no. I know, it's just a semantic game, but I find it pretty easy to hide annnoyance and much harder to hide hate. And really, all that matters is that that table never, ever picks up on whatever seethes inside their server. It's not something the customer needs to worry about; all the customer should worry about -- or at least consider -- is whether they're taking up too much space for too much time.

                            1. re: ctscorp

                              "As long as... guest's sight". Obviously, the server must be discreet.

                              I just don't get why customers wouldn't have their appetizers in the bar/lounge area. That's exactly why that area exists: for diners not looking for the whole formal dining experience, but still want to enjoy something.

                            2. re: invinotheresverde

                              In another thread you're saying it's rude and obnoxious. You're saying the server hates their customer. These are pretty strong words. I would say whether or not the resturant is a "very high end", "nice," "nicer" whatever the case may be I just want to go and have a good time with my significant other. Whatever's annoying the waiter can be reflected back to the customer and their evening out.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                Obnoxious or rude guests, sure. Low-tippers, perhaps. But annoyed at guests who order lower-priced items... that is UNACCEPTABLE, IMHO.

                                Your job as a server is to ensure I, as a customer, enjoy my time at the restaurant, not to wince/grin inside if a cheap/expensive menu item is ordered.

                                What if I am there with 3 friends for foie gras with Yquem, followed by a cheese plate with a very old vintage port? Surely, our tab will meet or exceed many full meal entrees, so would you turn us away?

                                Based on your logic, all guests should order as they walk in the door and be given table priority, based on the total costs.

                                Here's another point, try this one on for size. Let's say the price of entrees ranges from $22 for risotto, up to $45 for bison ribeye. I decide to order the ribeye, my friend orders the risotto. We have separate checks. Based on a 20% gratuity, please explain to me why I should be expected give you $9 versus my friend's $4.40 when you did no more work for me?

                              2. I don't get the big deal about this. Doesn't it all work out in the end? For every table that only orders appetizers and dessert, or splits an entree, or sits with three people at a four top, isn't there another table that orders the most expensive wine, or the most expensive entree, or salad + appetizer+entree+dessert+cheese+coffee+ after dinner drink? I remember being a waitress. Sure I was dissappointed when I got a table that ordered light, but just as often I was pleasantly surprised by a table that ordered everything but the kitchen sink. I figured if I gave them all good service ("good" being relative here, I realized early on that I was a really crappy waitress and I got out as soon as I could), then karma would take care of me in the end.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                  No, it doesn't all work out in the end (of the night, at least). At the end of the week/month/year, yes, but that doesn't mean the waiter can't be pissed about a bad table.

                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                    My comment wasn't that a server "can't be pissed." Like I said, I remember being dissappointed. But as a diner, I don't bother changing where I sit or how much I order because I go with the mentality that it all works out in the end for the server. Sure, the balance might come that evening, the next one, or a week later, but it comes. As a diner, sometimes I'm the one ordering soup and salad, other times I'm the one going for five courses with wine. As a waiter, sometimes you get the small orders, sometimes you get the large orders. Such is life.

                                    Besides, as also remember from being a server, how much food someone orders is not always indicative of what the tip will be. A large ordering table might be full of cheapskates, in which case it might not be a pay off to devote all your time and energy to them, while a light ordering table might be filled with an wealthy and ultra generous former server who tips over 100% (yes, this happened to me).

                                    1. re: charmedgirl

                                      Yes, that scenario COULD happen, but it's not the norm.

                                      Again, why not just sit in the lounge if all you're having are appetizers?

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        Because I don't want to sit in the lounge, no one can make me sit in the lounge, and I'm not going to ever sit in the lounge if I don't choose to.

                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                          Because my companion is having an entree? Because I didn't realize I only wanted an appetizer until I sat down and was handed that evening's menu? Because it's uncomfortable to eat food while sitting on a low couch with the plate on a low table in front of you? I dunno, because I'm usually the cook so anytime I'm *not* the cook I want to feel waited on?

                                          Your question is still skirting my main comment: I'm curious, do you disagree with my general statement that, in the end, the tables that put in large orders and the tables that put in small orders even out for the server?

                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                            And what if I go out with a friend and we decide to order four $10 appetizers and a $20 bottle of wine, where a table in the dining room has ordered two $15 entrees and are drinking water?

                                            If you, as a server, feel like you're getting stiffed by a light table, that's your issue. But don't even think of telling me that I can't have a table in the dining room unless you get to dictate what I order.

                                        2. re: invinotheresverde

                                          Of course they deserve a table!!!

                                          To me, the lounge/bar area is for drinking cocktails. If I'm ordering food, I want to be seated at a table. If the owner is concerned with the bottom line, then they should clearly post that tables are only for those ordering a "full meal"

                                          My reasons for ordering appetizers as an entree:
                                          ~Smaller portions = smaller clothing size. There's a reason there's an obesity epidemic in North America! I don't want a doggie bag because restaurant food just isn't as good reheated at home.
                                          ~Appetizers usually look more appealing to me.
                                          ~I can get two different things instead of one large one.

                                          If a restaurant expects me to order appetizer, entree, wine, dessert, I won't go there, and you can bet my friends and family won't either.

                                          Also, IMO, a "bad table" = people who are condescending, messy, drunk, don't tip, etc. If a table is friendly and tip 15% or more, you have no right to be "pissed." If the server thinks they have a "right to be pissed" they should find a job w/ minimal human interaction, or check their "entitlement" at the door.

                                          This applies to all restaurants, and in "fine dining" establishments, they especially should be courteous to all diners, regardless of check size.

                                          1. re: QSheba

                                            So you're saying the lounge area of Citronelle/No.9 Park/Gramercy Tavern is just for cocktails? Also, aren't there dining tables in the lounge?

                                            A bad table is also one with a small check. I don't make the rules.

                                            Again, the waiter/restaurant must always be friendly to the diner, regardless. Behind the scenes is another story completely.

                                            1. re: QSheba

                                              ITA w/your reasons for ordering apps. Mr OCAnn usually will order an entree and I will order an app or two, taking a few bites from his plate, and he from mine.

                                              Also, when we're visiting another city, we might have two dinners or two lunches. We'll order a couple appetizers and drinks from one restaurant...and then head off to another restaurant and order a couple apps from there. We sit in the main dining area almost always; we'll only sit in the bar area/lounge if the waiting for a regular table is ridiculous (more than 15-20 min).

                                              1. re: dolores

                                                You guys (dolores, invino & xana) are funny. I agree with dolores that a diner can choose to sit at either the dining area or the lounge, given that consideration and etiquette (as both xana & dolores point out) are given to factors such as how busy it is, the type of restaurant, etc.

                                                invino, I don't know where you work (city or restaurant), but you're pretty adamant regarding where diners sit. Perhaps you've had bad experiences...or your management requires you to sell a certain amount per evening. I don't know the whole story, but as long as diners aren't rudely inconveniencing anyone, they should be able to sit at tables that would otherwise remain empty.

                                        3. They deserve a table. They don't deserve a bad attitude from their server.

                                          Mr CF and I frequently split appetizers, occasionally split the entree (really big steak), sometimes Mr CF orders 2 appetizers for his entree, we almost always order wine and sometimes coffee and dessert. We also, on occasion, eat in the bar when we just want a more casual dinner.

                                          We've never picked up on a crabby attitude from our server for doing this in any of the variations.

                                          "Jfood believes in neither, that he deserves a table, is there to order what he would like and others in his party should as well."
                                          I completely agree.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Cookiefiend

                                            This question brings a certain scenario to mind. The hostess would ask not only "how many in your party?" but also "and what will you be ordering tonight?" Then SHE decides where the group will sit, based on potential revenue and gratuity. The server that she hates will get the 3-some at a 4 top, or the party of 9 with squirming children.

                                            1. re: Cheflambo

                                              Cheflambo, I consider myself fortunate, just about all of the servers I have met are wonderful.

                                          2. I think its a basic question with a basic answer. When I go out to eat, I will be spending money at a restaurant, whcih is a service industry to provide food for a paying customer. I, as the customer, should not have to have a neuroses as to whether the restaurant/server can survive or if i "deserve" a table, if I "only" order certain things to suit my appetitite or not order wine because I don't want to drink. I don't think I owe the server anything more than a generous tip on the total amount, but no more or less than I would usually tip. If the restaurant and server are gracious, I will return as a regular customer and have many nights where I will order everything, because that's what I want to do on that night. Therefore, the server will benefit in the end. Certainly, I am mindful that server's need to make a living. And I will tip accordingly. But certainly, servers realize every table is different and just like every table won't order the highest priced wines, not every table will split entrees and order no wine. It should balance out in the end and I should be able to enjoy my table, if I want one.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: jdf

                                              Well said

                                              1. re: jdf

                                                Agreed and there will be good days and bad, good tables and bad. This is the nature of the business. Any waiter that thinks otherwise should be doing something else. This is a service industry. I am just amazed at some of the comments here that put the staff above the customer. If it weren't for the customers you would have no business.

                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                  >>This is a service industry.

                                                  >>If it weren't for the customers you would have no business.

                                                  scubadoo97, I would THINK this would be a 'no brainer'. I am amazed, being in a service career, that ANYone in the restaurant business would not see the utter brilliance of these observations.

                                                  Oh well.

                                              2. It's inconsiderate to sit and linger when there is a waiting room full of people. When you only ordered dessert and coffee, it's especially painful to the server because you're costing them a lot of money. It is entirely different when it's a large party and they are lingering. Usually the tip is higher and you expect large parties to stay a longer time. So, usually a restaurant will give a server with large tables, a small table or two to offset the chances of turning the tables. As a server, I really don't mind if you have just dessert and coffee. If we are busy, I'd hope that you'd leave soon after you enjoyed your "meal" at your normal pace. If we aren't busy, sit as long as you'd like.
                                                It really doesn't all even out at the end of the night. There's no guarantee that your other tables are any good. Everyone has bad nights and good nights, and I really don't think that should be your main concern when you're the patron. But, it isn't Starbucks. We all know how hard it is to wait for a table when you're hungry.

                                                1. It's not a matter of "deserving" a table, of course you do.

                                                  However, as far as I can tell, places that have both dining room and lounge have a lower server to seat ratio in the lounge than the dining room, and a lounge level spender in the dining room will have an impact on the dining room server's sales and therefore an impact on their income. Will a good dining room server telegraph the disappointment to the customer? Never. Will he/she be disappointed? Probably. but no less so than with people having 2 entrees and nothing else if they're sitting for the same length of time.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hsk

                                                    Thank you, hsk! I was about to write the same thing.

                                                    And the server issue bears restating: Will a good server let you know what they're thinking? No. A good server will make you feel liked, appreciated, and cared for, but that doesn't mean that underneath they are not annoyed, disappointed, or even possibly not liking you that much. At the same time, this doesn't mean that the server is always annoyed, (Did that sentence make sense?)

                                                  2. I must say, reading all these threads about how the patron inconveniences the restaurant and server by walking in and eating what and how he wants to makes me think that eating out is far too complicated and stressful to bother with.

                                                    It'd never occur to me to question whether or not I "deserve" a table when I walk into a restaurant or whether or not I'm going to spend enough money to please the server. Going to restaurants is supposed to be a relaxed and enjoyable experience, not one where you have to fret about how what your order affects the bottom line for the restaurant and its workers. I guess it's a good thing that I rarely eat out as I guess my considering my needs before those of the server would make me a bad customer.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Orchid64

                                                      Word to all you wrote, Orchid64.

                                                      While some of these posts are no doubt done for the sheer pleasure of the controversy they are generating, I don't doubt there are servers out there who should NOT be in their chosen jobs, and really DO hate the patrons who inconvenience them by daring to come to their restaurants and by not jacking up the bills so their tips are through the roof.

                                                      As noted, I have not yet met any such servers, with only one exception. Thankfully. If I did, I wouldn't care what they thought, since they wouldn't be 'good' servers in my estimation, and I wouldn't return to the restaurant.

                                                      Dining out is entertainment to me. I dine out once a week, after 6 days of cooking and cooking some more and leftovers and a full day at work. I EXPECT the attention and attitude and consideration and grace and customer service that I give MY customers all week long. If I don't GET it, well then I'm outta wherever I had gone, never to return and probably to complain about wherever I find the opportunity.

                                                      IF I love the place and the food and the server, well then I'm happy and will tip accordingly and will return to the restaurant.

                                                    2. I enjoy eating at the bar. That's where we sit most of the time we go out to eat. However, if we want to have privacy and maybe some romance, we will ask for a table. What we are eating that night never comes into that decision-making process.

                                                      For some people, having an appetizer is not just "snacking." Whether they have a small appetite, dietary restriction, etc., an appetizer can often be a main course. The fact that someone is vegetarian and the only tempting items on the menu are listed under appetizers doesn't mean they can't have a "formal dining experience" while eating appetizers. And there is a big difference between a couple having apps as main dishes and joe shmo making lemonade out of his ice water and eating only the free bread. If the aforementioned couple is gracious, I would be happy to wait on them.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: mojoeater

                                                        >>And there is a big difference between a couple having apps as main dishes and joe shmo making lemonade out of his ice water and eating only the free bread. If the aforementioned couple is gracious, I would be happy to wait on them.

                                                        Well, put, mojoeater. If you are a server, I salute you. If I were a server, I would be a server just as you describe.

                                                        When I dine out, I am half of the gracious couple (I treat servers as I want to be treated) who eats only appetizers and dessert and coffee. If out with friends, we eat the same way, usually. The servers I have met, thankfully, have been wonderful. If they weren't, they would hear about it, and I wouldn't go back to their restaurant.

                                                      2. We often will split apps and dessert. Sometimes we'll split an entree but when we do this we usually are dining off hours and somewhere casual anyhow so it really doesn't disrupt or bother anyone.

                                                        we've only once had bad service/attitude for splitting something. Middle of a weekday afternoon in Las Vegas and we stopped somewhere to grab a bite of ,late lunch before an appt. We explained ot the hostess we were a bit rushed and also we weren't that hungry but did want to grab something small to eat...could they accomodate us. We were assured it was no problem and as we prefer to sit down and eat then order at a counter we decided to go ahead. The server disappeared after we ordered (two non alchoholic drinks, a split sandwich and a split salad) never to be seen again. Food was dropped by a runner and that was it. Getting a bill was a nightmare. . Admittedly not a big bill but the restaurant was empty, it was off hours and we did explain coming in our intention. we also generally tip large when we order like this. Didn't happen this time...

                                                        Again this is the only time we've had any issue doing this. We've eaten at very high end restaurants and split the first two courses and dessert while ordering our own entrees and never had an issue. It's the only way we can make it through a meal that large. I have no issue paying a split charge either as we do it not to save money but because we can only eat a certain amount of food at any given meal.

                                                        The one thing we DO constantly get bad attitude about is wine service. My husband is a non-drinker. I enjoy a glass of wine but cannot finish an entire bottle by itself. I cannot even begin to count the number of sighs, rolled eyes, comments, nonverbal cues we've had from servers over the years because of this. This underlying of attitude of "how dare you not order a bottle of wine" and the resulting difference in the check from servers really pisses me off. Servers take note: some people can't or don't choose to drink wine or other expensive beverages. They still make fine customers and can often be quite generous tippers. Don't shoot yourself in the foot and lose a possible much larger than expected tip with a subtle message that usually doesn't get by your customer.

                                                        Same would go for customers ordering smaller amounts of food.

                                                        Also, as basically non-drinking customers we generally prefer not to sit in the bar. Not going to apologize for that either.

                                                        1. there are a couple of unfortunate things going on with this thread-- i think people are hung up on the word "deserve"-- most of us would agree that the establishment exists to serve the customer and that any customer should "deserve" a table and the service of the restaurant. apart from that, most reasonable people would agree that the restaurant needs to accommodate all patrons according to some common-sense rules and the needs of the party. the restaurant prefers to seat its reservations before walk-ins, parties of 4 people at a 4-top rather than an 8-top, special-needs patrons at accessible tables, etc.

                                                          the lounge area of a restaurant has a different staffing construction than the main dining room, which makes it a good overflow area for diners who only want small plates or desserts. diners in the lounge area may be served by a team effort of a server, one or more bartenders, and a manager rather than the more formal arrangement of one primary server/table, maybe supplemented by a server-assistant. the staffing makes the lounge area more suited toward beverage service and simple food service, and the dining room more suited for multi-course, long meals. this doesn't mean that a solo diner shouldn't order dinner at the bar, or expect great service, or that diners in the main room shouldn't just order dessert & coffee if that is what they are after. but for the service of every patron overall, the restaurant may try to steer a big party in the lounge who wants dinner toward the main room, or a party who just want a couple of apps to the lounge, for example.

                                                          the phrase "your server hates you" or whatever is kind of an unfortunate choice of words, because it just sets off the "all servers are greedy lazy hacks" people-- okay. . . in a typical fine-dining restaurant the main room servers are senior to the lounge server(s). the lounge servers are primarily cocktail waitstaff & make their income on volume and a faster turnover of tables than the main room; the main room servers have more experience with the menu and generally can offer superior service over multi courses, they make their income from smaller volume, more attentive service, with (generally) higher final tab amts.

                                                          if the restaurant mgmt were to royally screw up the seating the cocktail server would find her/himself overwhelmed with multi-course dinners, which they're not set up for, and the main room servers would have 6-8 coffee and dessert tables over the course of an evening, would make very little money for their time, and might be ticked that their junior servers got the big-tickets. this is obviously an extreme example--in the real world, hopefully a server gets a nice mix of tables, everybody gets great service, everybody makes enough money, everybody's happy.

                                                          as i've stated, imo diners should not be worried too much about their server-- if you feel terribly guilty about taking up a table, leaving your server a generous tip alleviates guilt and hard feelings all around, right? :-D

                                                          choosing to sit in the lounge for small plates or dessert might be courteous toward your fellow diners though. i know i'd feel bad if i lingered over just coffees and a split dessert at a big table in the main room while hungry people waited for a table. if i was in a party of 2 & we just wanted a few small plates before a theater show, i'd sit in the lounge & get quick, fine service without taking up a table another party might need for a multi-course meal. if i was with a large party for dinner, of 10 say, and at the end of the gathering everyone left except me and an old friend, and we wanted to catch up over a cocktail or 2, i'd let the staff steer us to a smaller table in the lounge. this is just courtesy toward other diners, imo a no-brainer.

                                                          then there are all sorts of reasons the patron may want to sit in the main room rather than the lounge. noise level, accessibility. . . of course it's fine to say you prefer a dining room table, regardless of what courses you're having. i would choose to have coffee and dessert in the main dining room with an elderly, tee-totaler relative, for example (and personally would tip generously for the extra-attentive professional service we received). servers understand these issues, they have elderly relatives too.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                            >>as i've stated, imo diners should not be worried too much about their server-- if you feel terribly guilty about taking up a table, leaving your server a generous tip alleviates guilt and hard feelings all around, right? :-D

                                                            I'm not worried about my servers, all of the servers with whom I've dealt have been wonderful. I don't feel guilty about having a table for my appetizers, coffee and dessert, never have and never will. If I see there are people waiting for tables, I will act accordingly. Those with phones in their ears should be so mannerful.

                                                            I leave my servers really nice tips, thanks so very much. I will therefore continue to eat my appetizers, coffee and dessert forever onward. I have no guilt and the very nice servers with whom I deal have no hard feelings.

                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                              Dolores, my remarks about server-related guilt were to the op:

                                                              <<Another thread had an interesting sub-thread on whether a customer who orders two appetizers or customers who split an entree deserve a table or should eat at the bar. Likewise another thread described how a threesome seated at a 4-top felt they needed to over-order to make up for the empty seat.

                                                              Jfood believes in neither, that he deserves a table, is there to order what he would like and others in his party should as well. While others have stated that there should be consideration for the servers' earnings in both cases.>>

                                                              my point is that diners *shouldn't* worry about their servers, or if they are wracked with guilt, to tip generously and dispel that. it was meant to be a light-hearted comment, not an attack on anyone. diners should feel free to order whatever they'd like, wherever they'd like, as i clearly stated in my post. i was just trying to explain how the restaurant is set up for multi-course in one area and more limited service in another.

                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                >>diners should feel free to order whatever they'd like, wherever they'd like, as i clearly stated in my post.

                                                                Exactly.

                                                                Then we agree. I will eat what I want and sit where I want.

                                                                How perfectly easy.

                                                                1. re: dolores

                                                                  LOL-- except that we wouldn't have all these service threads if it was so "easy" to serve every customer. people are all very different, yet the same-- which makes a server who can truly please *everyone* an interpersonal genius!!!

                                                                  it looks like i stepped into a minefield, when i was just trying to smooth things over. did i miss the original thread Jfood was referring to in the op? sounds like a doozy :)

                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                    It was the "splitting in a nice restaurant" thread - I think it's still out there.

                                                                    1. re: Suzy Q

                                                                      oh okay i'll read it, thanks. . .
                                                                      *whew* i'm all caught up with the rest of you now, i think. i'm not weighing in on the splitting issue, you understand, just on seating main room vs. lounge. i still think my post makes good sense & stand by it in this context. the vitriol is getting depressing, though.

                                                            2. re: soupkitten

                                                              Before this thread gets locked, I'd like to thank you for making my point (much more eloquently). It's a common courtesy thing.

                                                            3. This is one of the many reasons I like to eat in Japanese restaurants. Two of us can just order how much we want to eat and split it "family style".

                                                              1. Common courtesy dictates that any party, no matter the size/total sale of their order, will not linger unnecessarily in a restaurant on an extremely busy night. I don't think common courtesy has any bearing on WHERE I sit, though, as long as I am a paying customer. My money should be just as good as anyone else's.

                                                                1. Folks, we think this thread has about run its course, and we've had to remove a number of unfriendly replies. We're going to lock it now, so everyone can get back to talking about whether their dinners were delicious -- regardless of whether they ordered appetizers or entrees.