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Service Faux Pas at Vee Vee?

Walked into Vee Vee last night at 8:30 with my parents - all tables were full and a party of three was waiting for a table. We were greeted by the host who said there would be a 20-30 minute wait. Noticing that 4 of the 6 bar stools were open we asked if we could eat at the bar. In order to accommodate us they would have needed to ask the 2 people having their dinner at the bar to move over one seat. The host went back to the bar manager to inquire – after watching them whisper and debate for a minute the host came back and informed us that the couple was eating their dinner and they would not ask them to move and that the wait would be 20-30 minutes. Unfortunately, this was a very awkward exchange and I was disappointed they were not willing to accommodate.

When I sit at a bar – even if I’m in the middle of my dinner I would have no problem moving to accommodate another party. I did that at Grammercy Tavern in NYC only a few weeks ago and I was certainly not offended when the bartender politely asked me to move over one seat so he could seat another party. I have to ask my fellow Chowhounders – was this completely unprofessional of the host?

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  1. Did you consider asking the couple yourself if they wouldn't mind moving over a seat? Typically I never get anyone at the restaurant involved in those types of situations.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Yes - we debated if we should ask. We even said to the host that we would ask the party to move over. Noticing how uncomfortable he was with that prospect we refrained. As a service industry vet I do expect that the bar manager, host etc. would have "helped" the situation. I certainly would never go up to a table of seated people and ask them to move however, IMO when sitting at the bar you are somewhat in the bartenders territory - its their responsibility to manage the dynamic of the bar.

      1. re: southendchow

        Right. Asking a party seated at a table if they would mind moving without getting someone at the restaurant involved would be, hmm what's that word I'm looking for - oh yeah, "crazy". But the bar is a "free agency / DMZ" situation, and when this has happened in the past I've never thought about asking the bartender to intervene in making the request.

        Did you ask the couple afterwards yourself just to see what would happen?

    2. I have never gotten staff involved in these types of situations. If the people I'd like to move down are just having drinks, I'll sometimes ask if they mind moving down a spot, but I would not do it if they were having their dinner at the bar. OTOH, if I see a party who could sit as a group if we'd just scoot down, I will offer to scoot down before asked if possible.

      1. No. My feeling is that you have to bite the bullet and either wait until your table opens up, or the couple at the bar are done eating dinner. The nit to pick here: does the couple at the bar have to be inconvenienced in the middle of their dinner to accommodate you? I think not and believe the staff response was appropriate.

        8 Replies
        1. re: scoopG

          Actually scoop, I equate your response to the situation like a movie theater. You and others at a movie which is already in progress, theater is pretty full, but there are seats available in the middle of the row. To make it work, you would need to ask a couple to get their belongings, move themselves, food, belongings, etc down a seat or 2. No other seats are empty in theatre. I have a feeling you would ask them or get an usher to help. Very little difference between 2 scenarios. It's called kindness to others, thoughtfulness, and in most cases the people will move over/down. As a GM of a restaurant..I think it was handled poorly by staff, and should in that case been handled by the guest. Bar areas are a different beast, when you slide into a bar, you should fully expect people to move down to accomodate, as they should expect the same from myself.

          1. re: Rob83

            Rob, don't know if you're familiar with Vee Vee, but it's not exactly a low end dive, and the bar is quite nice. It's quite possible the couple already at the bar were having an upscale, possibly expensive, dinner. Sliding over dishes, utensils, water glasses, wine glasses, etc. would be pretty inconvenient. Again, if I was just drinking, I'd have no problem. I'm the kind of person who notices things like that, and I enjoy being helpful, as I like receiving kindness in return. Hell, I always buy someone a drink for volunteering to move over. But I'd be angry if I was bothered during my dinner for such a reason.

            I know you're a GM at a quick-serve joint, where perhaps asking someone to move is a bit more feasible, but in this situation, it'd be downright rude.

            Your movie theater example doesn't work, either. If there are only a few seats left and you're late, you take what you can get. I'd never even dream of asking someone else to be bothered for my tardiness.

            I think the host handled the situation well. Guests can't expect everything to stop the minute they walk in the door. They were told they'd have a 20-30 minute wait. Is that really too big of a deal?

            1. re: invinotheresverde

              I agree in some respects, and believe me, my restaurant I would not use as an example...it doesn't fit here. But 2 other restaurants I have run sound very similar. Here's the thing no matter what the expense is for your dinner---because believe me it's not 5 star if you are actually eating at the bar---even if your over a benjamin for dinner and some wine, you lose a little of the ambience of a "wonderful, 3 course meal" by sitting on barstools and eating. Again it's all a matter of who wants to be kind and who does not.....

              1. re: Rob83

                Some people, myself included, prefer to eat at the bar. My husband and I have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the country...at the bar. Don't assume that people do not dine very, very well (spending WELL "over a benjamin") at the bar. Just because YOU don't...

                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  If I want to actually have a conversation with my spouse, then no, we don't go to the bar. Even your best restaurants, the bar is noisy to an extent. Maybe a different approach would have been to designate which 3 people in the group would take the 3 seats together while the 4th stood in between his/her group and the couple already dining...to see if they would offer to move. That can be intrusive.

                  1. re: Rob83

                    Rob, there are those of us in the world who believe that doing the small act of kindness of sliding over a seat at the bar is no big deal and there is the group that is going to defend their "turf" from all interlopers. Neither one is going to change the mind of the other. But you can be sure that if you ask me to slide down you will always get a friendly "no worries".

                    1. re: Servorg

                      It is refreshing to read a post such as yours, amongst some of these , "It's my spot, go get your own" attitude of some. Curious though, if some of these people were on a date, how they would look to their date when they refused to move down. AND how that changes when we are dealing with spouses.....oh well for another forum and thread I suppose.

                      1. re: Rob83

                        My first job was at a movie theatre, and there is now way that a theatre manager would support asking someone to move once the film has started. In fact, they hesitated to do this as soon as trailers started. It's usually your fault if you're late for a movie. In cases where it was the theatre's fault (i.e. computer issues), everyone would be delayed, and the films would be started later to accomodate the problem. So even if you asked an usher for help, they'd probably be telling you the next showtime.

                        However, if I'm at a bar in a restaurant, I would sit at an end, if possible. If another party left, I would likely just move down to the end myself, before any situtation like this could occur. Though maybe not if I was mid-main course. But any other course, I would just move.

        2. i think your hands were tied once you asked the restaurant to intervene & the staff chose not to do so.

          i'm with some of the others above in that, rather than ask the staff, i would have taken it upon myself to ask the bar diners to slide down. when i do this, it's phrased graciously & generally accompanied by an offer to buy a round or dessert; never been refused, and the offer is rarely accepted.

          1. I can see how the restaurant wouldn't want to be the ones to ask them to move over. They probably didn't want to be the ones to blame if the patrons were peeved by the request. I doubt they would be, but you never know. Some people freak out over very little things.

            1. I have never known anyone to mind moving over a bar stool or two to permit others to sit down. I do not understand why the hostess didn't ask them and when she didn't then you could have. No restaurant wants to lose the business because customers were spread out along the bar.

              1. jfood may be in the minority here but he agrees with the MOD not to ask others to move while eating, even at the bar. Once this starts a slippery slope can occur. Do the bar-eaters have the right to say, "no thank you we are in the middle of our dinner." Then we'll have a thread on how dare the MOD asked me to move. This is no different than 2 people who were seated at a 4-top because that was the only table available, then a 2-top opens and a party of four arrives. Should the MOD ask them to move to another table. It might be easier to "slide" down a few seats than switch a table some might argue, but neither is fun if you are on the receiving end and it is an interuption to the evening.

                Personally if jfood were at the bar just waiting for the food it would be less of an issue as long as the "next seat over" was not next to the service station or less of a view of the ballgame. If he was already eating at the bar he might move (no guarantees) but would be upset about it (hey he is being honest, he's eating, watching the game or reading a book, he just wants some down time).

                And if the bar-couple slid down would the MOD ask the people in front of the OP if they would like the bar seats instead. Then the discussion would follow as to whether the OP or the other threesome should get the bar seats. Slippery slope again.

                If the OP wanted to ask the bar-couple themselves, can't really stop them, but the MOD should not intervene. And when the host came back and mentioned the MOD would not ask, the only thing that should have been said to him was "thank you for trying."

                12 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  I completely agree. Moreover, not only is it a slippery slope, but in my opinion it is basically interupting their personal space and dinner....perhaps they don't wish to be disturbed by even briefly talking to other patrons while they are eating...

                  for similar reasons, if a patron on a plane asks me (on the aisle as always so I can stretch my knee a bit) if I can move over my airline seat so they can sit together, I say no. I always get my boarding pass and/or seat assignments early just so I can get the particular seat I want, and I shouldn't have to change that to accomodate anyone for the sake of mere convienence (as opposed to anyone with a disability that goes beyond my moderate arthritis). And if the flight attendant asks me, my answer is, "of course, if you re-seat me in first (or business, or economy plus or whatever is a step up) class".

                  Similarly, if the request came from the restaurant (which I would prefer to a patron) I would expect the request to be accompanied by an offer of something very nice in recognition of the fact that I am doing the restaurant a favor and the new location isn't as nice to me or I probably would have chosen it in the first place. The seats further down the bar might be next to a smoker in some states, or next to the cash register, or next to where table servers have to come in to get drinks, or closer to the bathroom, or closer to the speakers for a loud stereo, or not as desirable for any number of reasons that might matter to some folks even if they don't matter to OP. (and just as I need to have the aisle to be comfortable because I can't keep my knee bent constantly, it may not be obvious to the incoming patrons since it may not matter to them, so while some call it getting 'peeved over something little' I say being closer to that loud speaker is hardly a little thing at all.....)

                  I do sympathize with hating to wait for a table. that is why I prefer to come armed with reservations....I assume that OP didn't have them....

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    I agree. I wouldn't mind too much being asked to move if I was just having a cocktail, often offer to move so people can sit together at a bar, but I would not appreciate being asked to move mid meal.

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      I agree. I have been asked by latre arriving movie patrons to move down two, three or ven four seats in a movie theatre and I have politely said no. The funny thing is, the asking patrons are shocked by my refusal. If I get myself to the movie theatre in plenty of time to get the seat that works for me, why should I move to accomodate patrons who slide in 2 minutes before the movie begins. My husband is unhappy with me about this but I really feel strongly about this; I am short and I pick my seat to meet my needs.

                      1. re: anndillman

                        Agree here. I also am one of those people who arrive early enough at a movie to be able to pick a favorite seat. I always prefer the end of the row. I have had late comers show up and ask me to move down, and I won't. I picked my spot for my convenience, and why should I be forced to move because someone else didn't show up on time.
                        Same thing in the restaurant. Those folks at the bar were there first; they should have the right to eat their meal in their chosen spot, without being asked to move.

                        1. re: anndillman

                          So what if there are no other seats? Too bad, the family doesn't get to sit together? Moving down 1 or 2 seats as long as your view is not obstructed, is going to alter your life someway. Anyone ever heard of KARMA? For some of you, it seems that it is coming soon......

                      2. re: jfood

                        I agree with what jfood says. I wouldn't ask to have the couple moved . They had picked their spot, and were enjoying their dinner. A 20 - 30 minute wait isn't terrible. I probably would have gotten a drink at the bar, and just waited it out.

                        1. re: jfood

                          iAnd J...that is why when situation is reversed for you, you'll continue to stand. You really can't use analogy of a dining room. 'cause depending on size of dining room, how fast your table turns are, if you have 8 top tables that can split into smaller tables...too many factors. And being honest, you can be upset if someone asks you to move down a seat, cause if you don't then rob might just bring the other stools over and slip them in anyway, or have 1 or 2 people in my group just stand next to you so we can all be together. Tell Jfood thanks for the kindness in advance!

                          1. re: Rob83

                            R

                            You are correct. Jfood will continue to stand because that is the proper thing to do. Jfood would NEVER consider asking people in the middle of dinner to slide down or pack up or shimmy their butts to another table or move on down the bar little doggy. They are in the middle of their down time and that is precious to them. Jfood would NEVER place his 20 minute wait ahead of other people enjoying the pleasantness of their special time together.

                            If others who arrive late feel their entitlement to have averyone at their disposal so they are not inconvienced, sorry but they can wait like everyone else and if they get to a movie theatre and can;t sit together they can either plan better, sit apart or come back for a later show.

                            Jfood respects others and he thinks others will do as well. That's good Karma, respesct, not entitlement.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Jfood, one hopes you will not tire of hearing that someone appreciates your post because I want to say thanks for saying what i was about to:

                              Everyone who cries 'Karma!' when people at bars will not move, or when people in cinemas will not move (even more horrific in my case where my cinephilia outweighs my chowhoundery) does not think that perhaps the late comer who demands others accommodate his needs may be more in need of thinking about karma than the person who came and is enjoying life, food, and film, according to the rules set.

                              And I must say to Rob re film: really? You think interrupting my viewing pleasure (which includes trailers) and asking me to move from my carefully selected seat (third row centre as is the wont of the cinephile) is somehow karma free while my annoyance signals impropriety on a universal scale? The fact that you see no problem with this tells me you don't love film in the way I do, and for that reason are even less likely to be part of this karmic equation.

                              I'm not saying I wouldn't do mitzvahs for people, but I am troubled by the kind of pressure being applied when asking for what really amounts to a favour-- not an obligation.

                              1. re: Lizard

                                Well, my opinion, (obviously we all have them...like other things.) is your wrong on 2 counts. First, I am an avid movie buff, both classic and contemporary, and in my mind a true "cinephile' would want others to enjoy a movie as much as myself. So what you are saying is, that moving 12-16 inches to one side or the other is going to change your movie going experience for the worse? Don't quite get the logistics there. In my case for reasons previously stated in other replies- no one would even have to ask me in a movie theater, it would be offered. That is "karmic" . Leads to second point. You have no idea why these people are just now trying to sit down, Maybe ticketing was slow, even more possible, maybe concession was slow. Maybe they got there and one of the kids had to go to the bathroom, then the other one wants to go too. There are several possibilities to this scenario, but you--assume the worst--that people are lazy, and demanding, and can show up any time they want and expect you to move. See, it is about kindness and generosity to others, something that I see dwindling by what I read here, and what I see everyday in our society.

                                1. re: Rob83

                                  Please keep it nice, folks. Also, seating at movie theaters is off topic.

                          2. re: jfood

                            Agreed. If they were asked to move, the thread next day would say "Should We Have Been Asked to Move?" Once you ask, you put the other people in a bad situation. If they don't want to, then they look bad, so they do. But if they do, then they are inconvenienced and it wasn't their fault to start with. Then they would feel bad the rest of the night doing something they didn't want to do.

                          3. from the perspective of an industry employee (waitress)....

                            "it's a restaurant, not a chess game."

                            it's just not proper to ask people to move once they are seated to accomodate new guests. first come first serve, sorry, you have to wait.

                            1. I really don't see what the big deal is. Even if you're mid meal. Put fork down, push tuckus over. Pick fork back up & resume eating. Sure perhaps it's a minor interruption & maybe even a little irritating, but is it that big of a problem? No! Maybe your *new* seat's not warm from your rump sitting on it for the last 45 mins, but if you're giving people the opportunity to dine with family (or friends) - could worse things happen? I would have gone to the couple myself and asked if they terribly minded moving over one seat so I could dine with my parents. All it takes is a gracious request "I'm so sorry to interrupt - but would you guys mind...". 90% of the time, people will gladly do it. If you're sitting at the bar to begin with, I would imagine you're not out for a gastronomic experience.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: amanda3571

                                No, its not a big deal, and if you asked the average person just as a general "what would you do if" sort of question, I'd bet that most everyone would say "sure, I would move." However, the only person who would ever object, I assure you, is the ONE person you actually DO ask to move.

                                1. re: amanda3571

                                  actually, I often have high expectations from bar dining where I live; some of the really best places here (and in LA, can't speak as much to NY) have wonderful dining at the bar options, and it may in fact be that dining at the bar is the way to get in without a reservation way in advance. and if that seat one over is closer to something that interferes with that experience, I don't want it. Just as importantly, I do mind being interrupted by strangers during my meal when I am concentrating on the food, my surroundings, whatever.

                                  If someone really thinks it is important to dine comfortably with their family, why didn't they get a reservation? (or go to a restaurant that takes reservations if the restaurant in question doesn't offer them. I am assuming that the restaurant in question takes reservations and that OP did not have one. I might feel differently if it were a very, very popular restaurant that doesn't take reservations, but it is unlikely that the wait would only be 20 minutes at such a place, and if it were, I'd consider myself lucky that it was only 20 minutes, AND would have come prepared to wait...though I am speaking hypothetically here because I don't go with my parents to restaurants with long waits and no reservations. Period. ....)

                                  For that matter, frankly, with 4 people, I'd rather wait 20 or 30 minutes for a table than be stretched down the bar for an entire meal anyway: How the heck are you really going to have a comfortable conversation with parents three seats away on a bar stool? I mean let's be real about this:.I dine at the bar when I want to be alone, and certainly, In my own case, if I were at one end of the four at a bar and my father was at the other, I couldn't hear him or vice versa anyway....

                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                    OP was with parents, so I think it was 3 people. To each their own. In my world & in the grand scheme of things - this is absolutely not a big deal. I can think of worse problems to have at a restaurant than someone asking me to move one seat over. So yes, let's be real about this.

                                    1. re: amanda3571

                                      OK, even three: more than two people, and my father can't hear me in a line at a bar.

                                      You have also failed to consider that the restaurant might have other reasons for not wanting to ask a patron to move over. What if they seat you at the bar (after making someone move over, which will annoy them either not at all, or just a little, or A LOT if they happen to be asked to move closer to someone who used too much perfume, or the stereo speaker, or whatever, depending on the person and the circumstances..but my point is, regardless of whether YOU don't think it is a big deal, it may in fact be a big deal to the person the restaurant asks to move...)...and then two single diners come in. No room at the bar: are they then going to seat them at your (vacant in 30 minutes) four top together? Turn them away? Ask you to interupt your dinner with your family to move to a table so they can be seated at the bar?

                                      Sorry, but to me it could well be a big deal, and that is why I think the restaurant did the right thing. Indeed, as far as I'm concerned, the only thing they did wrong was to discuss it and give you some false hope: you should have been immediately told, 'I'm terribly sorry, but we won't ask a patron to move once they've been served dinner'....

                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                        You're thinking a lot of "what ifs". To you, it obviously is a big deal. To me, it's not. C'est la vie.

                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                          It could have been two regulars at the bar at their favorite stools on their usual night. How can four people in one singular line at a bar have a normal conversation anyway? The restaurant also might not have wanted to have filled up the bar area with the OP's party so as not to intrude on the two already there i.e. give the impression that they are trying to pack them in.

                                          If one were to adopt a "host" type attitude I think - where like a host you try to make folks feel welcome, I would not have bothered to ask the couple (or ask the staff to ask the couple) to move in the middle of their dinner. But if I was seated at the bar, I would willingly have moved for them. Does that make sense?

                                    2. re: amanda3571

                                      'If you're sitting at the bar to begin with, I would imagine you're not out for a gastronomic experience.'

                                      I have to disagree there. I sit at the bar because I am often a solo diner and do not care to sit at a table-- not because I don't care about my dining experience.

                                      I also have to say that my moving would be contingent. Am I supposed to move to a place that is subject to more traffic and discomfort to appease those who don't wish to wait for a table? I'm usually amenable to helping people out, but it depends on the tone and the expectation. Here's the real question: would you make my life unpleasant if I said 'no'? Because then it's a demand, and not a request.

                                      Conversely, where one sits is a matter of importance for the cinephile, so I'm with you, anndillman. Frankly, anyone who asks me to move in the cinema has already demonstrated their lack of appreciation for the cinematic experience and their lack of tolerance for the reverence some of us hold for film (latecomers disrupting everyone's view; insisiting on sitting together, why? So they can talk throughout?).

                                      But I have recently learned that my cinephilia far outweighs my food-love.

                                      1. re: Lizard

                                        I travel for work often, and dine at the bar alone at most of the 'good' restaurants I visit when traveling. I have found the service to be very good when dining at the bar, generally better than when dining alone at a table (my wine glass is NEVER empty when I eat at the bar!!). If you asked me to move, and it was convenient for me, I probably would. But if I didn't like my options for moving, I'd feel comfortable saying 'sorry, but no'. If ther hostess asked me, I'd feel pressured to move for them, and if I accomodated the request, I'd probably resent it.

                                        I won't move down when I'm at the movies, and I especially hate it when people ask me to move down at church. I arrive early to select the seat most comfortable for me, and kind of resent those people who arrive at the last minute, then want MY seat. You can ask, but keep your hairy eyeball to yourself if you don't like my answer.

                                    3. As someone who frequents the bar, I have no problem moving down a seat or two to help a fellow patron out, while having a cocktail. However, if I'm eating, there's no way in hell I'm moving over.

                                      I can't believe the OP considers the restaurant's consideration for their dining patrons a "service faux pas"! Can't you wait your turn? 20-30 minutes isn't a long time to wait. I would NEVER, EVER ask a guest to move over, while eating, at my restaurant.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        Well, as a regular at a tapas bar/restaurant in my area, I've been asked to move by the bar staff or host/ess, even when eating (although I and my DC are almost always asked in between tapas) and I never have a problem with it. Again, being a regular, the staff knows we don't have a problem with it, as we often move voluntarily before being asked to make room for people waiting for seats behind us.

                                        I will say that if I'm in the midst of eating/sharing the tapas, it does make it much more difficult to move down, and the staff is good with waiting until our plates are cleared to ask us to move. We're usually comped something - after dinner drinks, coffee, dessert (although we're often comped something anyway, being regular-regulars).

                                        As Amanda said above - to some, it's a big deal. To others, like me, it's not.

                                      2. The host was in a tricky situation on that one. It's never fun to ask someone if they could do something that interrupts their dinner. However, the bar is always a more casual area, and there's a lot more leeway to do something like that than there would be in the dining room. From my hosting experience, the proper way to ask it would be something along the lines of "I have a couple who just walked in who are interested in sitting at the bar. Since you were here first, you are welcome to keep your seats, but they would like to know if you would be interested in sliding over one seat." The couple that is being asked to move is under no obligation to move; some people just have their favorite seat at the bar and you can't pry them out with a crowbar, ya know? If they don't move, then don't begrudge the issue (no, glowering at them is not an option), and stick out the wait. If they do move, thank them profusely for doing so.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                          aren't you still subtly putting pressure on them to say yes? After all, as the host, you can't guarantee or in any way control that the waiting party won't glower at the bar seaters if they don't move, regardless of whether you insist that 'you are welcome to keep your seats, but...'

                                          Sorry, but I think it is a mistake for the host to think that thanking someone profusely is enough of a compensation for that type of pressure, no matter how subtle.

                                          Moreover, it seems to me that if the restaurant is going to choose to serve its full menu at the bar, then it shouldn't consider the bar a less formal area. If it is truly a less formal area, don't serve dinner there, and limit the bar offerings to snacks and/or drinks!

                                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                            >>"I have a couple who just walked in who are interested in sitting at the bar. Since you were here first, you are welcome to keep your seats, but they would like to know if you would be interested in sliding over one seat." >>

                                            OK, in my opinion, that's the worst possible way to go about it. Asking people if they are "interested" insults their intelligence. They would be interested why? The language about "sliding over one seat" as opposed to just "moving" is a kind of euphemism, like "this may pinch a little." If you can't say it flat out, like, "Would you mind moving?" then maybe deep down you realize there is something wrong with the request. Also, you are indeed putting pressure on them; they're going to feel bad if they say no. Saying "you are welcome to keep your seats" is kind of a lie. Above all, be honest and straightforward with people.

                                            I have been asked to move after being seated at the table. The host apologized, said it was due to a snafu, and we were moved with as little trouble as possible. Had he tried to get around us with cutesy language we would have been annoyed; as it was, it was a momentary blip.

                                            1. re: bibi rose

                                              Perhaps the choice of language is cultural - in some parts of the country this is considered polite. To say it "flat out" would be considered very rude.

                                              While I feel the resto made the right choice, it seems not knowing the full context is coloring many of our responses. Most likely the host was new & had never had this come up & was unsure of restos policy on how to handle it.

                                          2. It is not OK to ask someone who has a plate of food in front of them to move their seat. We dine at the bar often and have no problem making room for other patrons, but once the food is there I want to enjoy it. Just because I am sitting at the bar does not mean that I get any less consideration than table diners. The restaurant did the right thing.

                                            1. Want a bartenders POV?

                                              I always ask the patrons if they can scoot a stool or two for a larger group.... NEVER was I told no. This was a huge Faux Pas on the restros part.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                While people are eating?!? That's unbelievably rude.

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  Most often the people I ask as people just having a drink, I would not ask someone who is eating to move unless I knew them as a regular.

                                                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                    I have moved more than once, while eating at the bar and I didn't even have to be asked. I noticed the situation and asked the people who were eying the bar if they would like me to shove over a seat to make room for their party. Really no big deal, (and if they had asked me first I would have had the same response).

                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      This and gryphonskeeper's most recent post (people having only drinks) both make sense and are really very different than the situation as we know it from the OP. If the diners are regulars and there's an established relationship then there may be knowledge that they won't mind moving over. My wife and I, in restaurants were we are regulars, are also likely to notice such a situation and offer to move.

                                                      For non-regulars, though who haven't taken it upon themselves to offer, it's still entirely out of bounds in my mind to ask them to move when they're having dinner.

                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                        Sometimes when I have done my offer and move bit it has lead to a really nice, fun conversation with the new people. It's just something about eating at the bar that engenders those types of interactions. So for me this little random act of kindness has resulted in a positive serendipitous encounter that makes me want to do it more frequently, rather than less.

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          Yeah, I agree entirely. If the people already seated notice the situation and offer, it's a good deal all around.

                                                    2. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                      Gryph, then you're essentially saying the same thing as us, and it was NOT a faux pas on the part of the restaurant. We were talking about being asked to move while eating.

                                                2. In my opinion, the only unprofessional act on the part of the host was not telling you immediately that the people at the bar were eating their meal and so they'd not ask them to move. If they were having only drinks, then I think it'd be reasonable for the restaurant to ask them to move down a seat. Once they've got their meal, absolutely not.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. Thank you to everyone for the feedback. Very interesting points of view! I think the bar is ultimately a shared space and because of that there is an underlying expectation you may need to move over a seat to accommodate others. It’s quite unfair and rude to deny both the customer and the restaurant establishment a seat at the bar. In this particular instance, there were a total of 5 seats at the bar – the couple was in seat 2 and 3-- one seat on the left and 2 remaining seats on the right. As a result, the party of 2 was essentially "taking" 3 other seats (they were not aware of the situation and I'm sure would have moved if we asked however the host was not comfortable with us asking them). While I can certainly appreciate that it may be slightly inconvenient to move over a seat in the middle of your dinner what is wrong with a little goodwill all round to make everyone happy?

                                                    25 Replies
                                                    1. re: southendchow

                                                      It's not about goodwill IMO and I would personally have no issue moving down, but the is different from the presumption that one is obligated (morally or otherwise) to move down, especially when they are having a meal as opposed to just a drink.

                                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                        I don't presume that people are obligated to move down. All I can do is ask, all they can do is say no.

                                                        What I'm thinking from reading this thread is that there's a lot of mean people on here! If someone asked me, even in the middle of dinner, if I could slide down one seat, I'd gladly do it. The whole process takes maybe three seconds... slide myself over, drag the plate in front of me, done.

                                                        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                          >>What I'm thinking from reading this thread is that there's a lot of mean people on here! If someone asked me, even in the middle of dinner, if I could slide down one seat, I'd gladly do it. The whole process takes maybe three seconds... slide myself over, drag the plate in front of me, done.>>

                                                          But the question at hand is not whether you or I or anyone else minds moving-- it's whether it's polite to expect OTHERS (or in the case of the restaurant, expect your customers) to move. Totally different questions.

                                                          I have no issues with moving myself in a case like that but I have problems with people who expect someone else to.

                                                      2. re: southendchow

                                                        jfood totally disagrees on the premise that the seats at the bar are shared space. It is a space to drink and eat, just like a table is. The standing area is shared and even that has limits.

                                                        The bar has 5 stools. Eaters were there first, they chose the seats (2 & 3) that were available and started to eat (do diners 3-5 know if seat #1 was even available when eaters were originally seated?). Diners 3-5 arrive and want the eaters, who are already into their meal, to move. And if they do not move then the eaters are rude? jfood can't even come close to agreeing with that conclusion.

                                                        The eaters were taking up 2 seats, not 3. If diners 3-5 wanted to eat at that very miniute they could have chosen seats 1, 4 & 5. Nothing stopped them from grabbing the three open seats at the bar. They wanted to eat together and the option was to wait. No big deal, only 20 minutes.

                                                        If jfood was in seat 2 and then needed to move to seat 1, this may be less of a good seat, so jfood would be less happy. Moving may not qualify as a pareto improvement. The eaters were there first, sat where they wanted and were merrily eating their meal.

                                                        And jfood also struggles with the "goodwill all around". What goodwill did diners 3-5 give to the equation? First, they want people already eating to move so they can eat together; Second, they want to do this without giving the people in front of them on the list the same benefit if the eaters did decide to move.

                                                        And waiting 20 minutes can also be characterized as "slightly inconvenient."

                                                        Not the best situation for Diners 3-5, but everyone has to wait their turn.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          Agreed. Diners 2 and 3 chose those seats because...that's where they wanted to sit! Now, if they notice during their dinner that others are waiting for seats, they can choose to move over or not. It's totally their call. If they move, I (the waiting customer) would buy them a round or dessert or something, to show my gratitude for inconveniencing them.

                                                          I'd never, ever ask the restaurant to suggest they move. That the customer wanted the restaurant to do so displays a major sense of entitlement, and really puts the restaurant in a bad position, as it's asking to choose one guest over another.

                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                            And jfood agrees w Ms Invino amendment.

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              in complete agreement with jfood,invinotheresverde, and janet from richmond. we actually prefer to eat at the bar in the majority of all types of restaurants,at all price points. sitting side-by-side is better for hand holding ,if nothing else!

                                                              1. re: kewpie

                                                                And I'm sure so would the couples that might ask you, jfood or others if you could slide down a stool! But by some posts whats good for the goose.....

                                                        2. re: southendchow

                                                          Goodwill is something you extend.

                                                          Look, you're using the bar as a substitute for a table, just so you can eat a little bit earlier. It's not like you wanted to sit at the bar to see a game on TV or something. It won't kill you to wait a few minutes.

                                                          1. re: southendchow

                                                            << While I can certainly appreciate that it may be slightly inconvenient to move over a seat in the middle of your dinner what is wrong with a little goodwill all round to make everyone happy? >>

                                                            While I am sure it would have made you and your party happy not to wait 20 minutes for your meal, I find it hard to imagine that it would have made 2 people happy to interrupt their nice dinner at a nice restaurant by having both of them move down a stool to accomodate your wishes.

                                                            I think the host handled the situation appropriately and that it was not too much to ask that you and your party wait the 20-30 minutes for a table. If it was that important to take your parents to this rest. for dinner, I think you should have planned ahead and made reservations.

                                                            1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                              Plus the fact that there is another group of 3 waiting for a table. If they were going to ask the couple to move, wouldn't or shouldn't they offer the open seats to the other group first? That would seem most appropriate, since they were there first.

                                                            2. re: southendchow

                                                              I would not ask anyone to move for me once they started their meal, nor would I ask an establishment to do it for me. (Nor would I ask anyone to move once a movie had started.) To me, it's an intrusion on the dining experience.

                                                              I also don't think there's any expectation of anyone to move at the bar, nor do I think the couple was "taking" three other seats. There just as easily could have been another couple in seats 4 and 5 (there may have been earlier, who knows?), and too bad, so sad, your party was one too many for the space available without breaking up. It happens.

                                                              1. re: sidwich

                                                                Your right, no one knows what transpired the 30-60 minutes before OP's party arrived. In thinking about it....I think maybe OP should've nominated a person in their party to go retrieve a barstool from the other side of where the couple was eating at the bar, and very politely asked if they could slides their seats down just a little bit so as to be able to fit this other stool in. No one would have had to move to another seat. Also is that the kind of mentality we need "Too bad, So sad" I mean my daughter used to say that. No one has been able to explain, I guess so I can understand, how it is going to lessen/worsen your dining/movie experience by moving 18 inches to the right or left. If approached by someone (not the restaurant), in a tactful, polite manner, even waiting so as to not interrupt someone mid-sentence, I just don't see the reason to pull out the "It's the principle of the matter" card.

                                                                1. re: Rob83

                                                                  Rob, I think perhaps some of us are envisioning a different sort of bar. My wife and I eat at the bar at some restaurants and it's not a very casual setting, even though it's technically a "bar." We have a bottle of wine with glasses, a bottle of sparkling water with glasses, bread plates, bread basket, butter, appetizer or entree plates, etc all in front of us. If it were as simple as scooting down a bit, I don't imagine there would be many objections. But relocating an entire meal once its in process is another story.

                                                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                                                    I think the size of the bar in this case might add a dimension or two. If there are only five seats, would moving down mean that one diner would be shoved next to a wall where they might not have room for a proper dinner? Does that place them next to the serving station? If they are having a meal, they deserve to be comfortable. Heck, even drinkers have that right!

                                                                    1. re: Rob83

                                                                      Perhaps it's me, but yes, but I do find moving my wine, water, bread plate, entree, dirty silverware, napkin (if I can find it), purse (is it somewhere under the bar?) and jacket an interruption of my dining experience. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it, but if asking me to move mid-meal is not such a big deal, I'm not sure that asking you to wait fifteen minutes for me to finish is such a big deal either.

                                                                      As for the movie, once the movie has started, I do think it's rude to interrupt someone's viewing experience to move. You're interrupting them while their attention is presumably elsewhere (the movie maybe?), asking them to hunt in the dark for their personal belongings, perhaps juggle drinks and concessions just so you can sit together? You're asking them to miss part of the entertainment that they've paid for for your convenience, and personally, I don't get why people need to sit together once a movie as started. It's not like you're going to be talking to each other since the movie has already started, right? (As an aside, when we take my grandmother out for a movie, we don't like to move even before the movie has started, partly because of her mobility issues and partly because she has a hard time moving her head in certain angles, so yes, we're picking the seats for a reason.) From a cinematic perspective, the first five minutes of a movie usually set up the premise of a the film, so if you're interrupting someone then, it's very likely that they will miss the set-up of something later on in the film.

                                                                      And apparently, your daughter has a lot in common with one of my former teachers, and what he usually meant was, sorry, you may wish it so, you may want it so, and you may throw a tantrum, it still ain't going to make it so. In this case, the OP was just going to have to make do with the configuration of seats at the bar that was available until the table was ready.

                                                                      1. re: sidwich

                                                                        Well, at this point I.m beating a dead horse, no one knows that your only going to be 15 minutes. Maybe you like to linger for 30-45 minutes after you have finished. For the movie analogy, I do'nt think people are talking about after the actual movie has started. I think what the reference is, is when the lights have just been turned down, and its commercials and previews. Don't get me wrong, I like previews. Look, whether it is at a bar, or at a movie, that's fine split my family, we will see how long it lasts when the kids are going back and forth to bathrooms, or to see the other sibling, etc. Thats just one scenario though. Bottom line is, I feel good when I do something nice for someone, as is customary in human nature....I guess some people only care about their own well being.

                                                                        1. re: Rob83

                                                                          I did not say I would not move. I probably would, although it might annoy me in some cases.

                                                                          I said that I think it's rude to ask and *I* would not do it nor would I allow my children to do it were they with me. If they were to do so, I would think that they would thinking of their own well-being and not the other patrons of th establishment. *I* think that doing the right, nice and polite thing is to wait in that situation and doing something that could be imposing. That does not mean that if someone were to ask that I would say no, unless it would be physically difficult for me to do so.

                                                                          As an aside, would a restaurant even seat an underage child at the bar? And personally, I don't think you'd like my grandmother falling on your children when she's trying to find her way in the dark on the way to the bathroom either. We all have difficulties that we're doing our best to work around.

                                                                          1. re: Rob83

                                                                            If someone enters a space and demands that someone moves, isn't that 'only car[ing] about their own well being'?

                                                                            Not taking the position that I would move or not; that is the non-issue at this point. What is interesting to me is how this has flipped in terms of responsibility: my not moving is a grave crime (not to say that I wouldn't move, contingent, yadda yadda) but that your demanding that I move so you can avoid a few minute wait, or avoid sitting apart from each other in cinema, is not at all a reflection of only caring about your own well being.

                                                                            How is it that kindness and regard for another person's well being only goes one way? This is the question I am asking.

                                                                            My response to people asking me to move when I'm in the middle of dinner or watching a film that's begun is not the issue. It's the evaluation of who merits comfort and care that troubles me and is likely why the managers here didn't want to ask people to move. 'Service Faux-Pas'? Depends where you're sitting or standing I suppose.

                                                                            Not whether I'd move-- but the expectations that remove concern for other people from those doing the asking/demanding. Probably I say this because I can't imagine asking people to move in the middle of dinner or once the film has started. My comfort is not worth their discomfort.

                                                                            I guess I must be one of those people who only cares about my own wellbeing.

                                                                            1. re: Lizard

                                                                              The other issue that most people are not considering is that there is another group waiting before op's group arrived. So if you ask the couple to move, wouldn't it be appropriate to offer the seats to the other group that has been waiting longer? I agree with you though, I think the restaurant did the correct thing.

                                                                    2. re: southendchow

                                                                      The bar is a "free fly zone" and people can do or not do what they want. It is one thing if you are having JUST drinks and get asked to move, but it is a completely different thing if someone is eating a meal. Sorry, that's out of bounds and I'm a LONG TIME bar/restaurant denizen, I know from whence I speak.

                                                                      Also, how in the world would your party of FOUR carry on a conversation whilst eating at the bar? You'd look like a bunch of prairie dogs popping up and down trying to make eye contact with each other. Were there any woman in your party? Normally, women HATE eating at the bar.

                                                                      1. re: Scagnetti

                                                                        I'm a woman and I love eating at the bar - fine or casual dining. We often get better service that way, and the drinks are never empty!

                                                                        1. re: mojoeater

                                                                          You are rare indeed! Most women feel they are not fully enjoying their "dining" experience at the bar.

                                                                          I love eating at the bar for the reasons you mention. I always thought bartenders enjoyed the food delivery part because it was a break in the routine of just making drinks.

                                                                          1. re: Scagnetti

                                                                            count me and my friends as rare also. we eat at the ball all the time.

                                                                    3. Strange thread. About half would happily move for others and some would even notice the situation and would move without being asked. About half would not want to be disturbed and would not want to move. Almost no one would ask others to move, largely because of the discomfort of doing so. So the host and bar manager had perhaps a 50-50 chance of irritating the seated diners; and a 50-50 chance of getting a refusal. There was a high chance that asking would have made either or both the manager and host uncormfortable. Their selection of not asking the couple to move risked your irritation. Maybe they made a quick probabalistic assessment tof outcomes and chose their best bet action.

                                                                      And, southendchow, how did one seat at the bar get lost from your OP to one of your replies (i.e., from an original six to a later five seats)? If there were six, the couple had to be in the middle two seats in order to prevent seating three in a row.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        I wanted to note the difference between not thinking that I should be asked to move if I'm in the middle of my dinner while sitting at the bar (any more so than I would if I were at a table) and refusing to move if asked. My wife and I would move if we were so asked, but we'd not likely be pleased about it. (There are, of course, so many details that can be added to this scenario.)

                                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                                          I agree with the fact there are so many variables. For instance, we go to a great sports bar in Blacksburg and eat "bar food", nachos and the like and everyone tends to move to accommodate others because there is a real spirit of commaradarie (sp?) and it's loud, crowded, casual, etc.

                                                                          OTOH, there is a local steakhouse where Dh and I often eat at the bar. Places are set, we get a bottle of wine, etc. and I would not want to move down everything in that instance (but like you most likely would if asked) because we are more settled into dinner mode (if that makes sense).

                                                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                            That's exactly the sort of thing I was thinking about. Or, if it was handled well, and was the sort of the place that replaced flatware between courses and the like, they might ask while we didn't have any plates or utensils in front of us and only had to move a couple of glasses. All sorts of ways things could go. Not all bars are the same, not all dinners are the same and not all situations are the same.

                                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                                              You make a great point- not all situations are the same. But- I can tell you one thing that is the same- all chowhounds have passionate opinions about all things related to food, cooking, dining, etc!

                                                                      2. I think the management behaved appropriately. Why should they be involved in asking their customers to disturb themselves?

                                                                        If a personal approach is then made after that, it is implicit that management has given you, the requesting party, approval to approach their customers. No matter how polite you are in asking, if the seated customers take any offence, they are going to most probably associate it with the restaurant, not you. "There we were, just getting romantic, when the maitre'd lets these people wander over and ask us to move!" "Were they rude?" "Well, not really, but what kind of place lets that kind of thing happen?"

                                                                        I have to say that in the scenario described, my sympathy is with the restaurant.

                                                                        If the bar was at Patrick O'Cavelli's, the Irish-Italian family casual sports bar funorama, then *maybe* the request in that case would be more appropriate. But even then I wouldn't fault the management for leaving their seated patrons in peace.

                                                                        1. We never would have asked the other party to move or ask the restaurant to ask the other party to move. We would have ordered some drinks and waited at the bar for a table or for seats at the bar to become available. If the party offered to move, we would have graciously accepted and bought their next round of drinks as a thank you. If I had been the party dining at the bar, in most scenarios, I would offer to slide over to accommodate the other party. I'm one of the people that does not like to be asked to move down. If I haven't offered to move, I don't want to move and there is a reason (maybe I'm watching something on the TV and the view from the other seat is obstructed, or the ac/heat is blowing on that seat). When I am asked, regardless of how I answer, someone isn't happy, either the party asking isn't happy because I would not move (and sometimes even shows their disdain) or I'm not happy because I moved to avoid the uncomfortable situation that often results from refusing.

                                                                          I think the restaurant is in the right.