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Mar 19, 2008 02:03 PM

Feedback, please: Was this handled correctly?

Last night -- yes, a Tuesday night -- I had reservations to eat at Modo Mio with friends at 7:00P. We arrived on time, and looking around the dining room, there didn't seem to be any tables opening up soon. After repeatedly asking the hostess/server what had happened, she finally told us that a number of other people had shown up half an hour late for their reservations. (She blamed it on I-95 which seemed lame as we had all managed to arrive on time.)

We waited forty minutes to be seated. Forty minutes during which we were not offered even a menu or a glass of water. Nor were we compted anything for our inconvenience. In fact, we had to ask for the complimentary after-dinner sambuca that was prominently displayed near the entry.

In other situations, I've been turned away for being more than fifteen minutes late for a reservation. Knowing that we were coming, should they have similarly turned tardy patrons away? Or is (Shudder) the expectation in Philadelphia "first-come-first-served?"

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  1. Under the unusual circumstances wiith I-95, if the other party had reservations and was late (maybe coming from a different direction than you and tied up in back street traffic), I don't blame the restaurant for seating them. Wait staff depend on their stations being filled if they are to make a living and management was looking out for their interests by seating the late ones.

    As a safeguard, I always enter the restaurant number in my cell and inform them if there is a delay just so they know how to juggle the seating.

    As for the restaurant, yes, they should have offered you a complimentary cocktail and/or dessert as a good will gesture. Gratitude for patronage goes a long way, especially if they are unable to meet your needs as expected. Perhaps front-of-house was understaffed that night. You never know.

    If you made a reservation and they were unable to honor it, maybe a polite letter to management recounting your experience (and hesitation to trust their word for timely seating in the future) will get you a complimentary brunch. Any restaurateur worth his/her salt would much rather make amends than be bad mouthed - especially in the World's Biggest Small Town (which we are.)

    1. No, it wasn't handled correctly. After 30 minutes of tardiness, the table before you should have been treated like a walk-in customer and fit in if possible, along with a warning from the restaurant concerning when they need that table for the next party (you). 30 minutes is too late to show up and expect to get the table you reserved. I've been fit into tight timeslots at other places, it's never been a problem as long as the restaurant tells me beforehand when they need the table. Obviously if they were 30 minutes late and you had to wait 40 minutes, their lateness (and the restaurant's inability to deal with it) was the problem. It's possible they were warned by the restaurant about the time crunch and just ignored it.

      Of course, it's possible that the party before you called and warned the restaurant they would be late, in which case it's then on the restaurant to accommodate you some other way, or at least call you and explain the situation. They didn't do either.

      And that's not counting the excuse-making after you showed up..

      1. Nope, the restaurant blew it on this one. That other diners showed up late is not your problem, regardless of the reason they were late. The only thing that matters in this case is that you had a reservation, arrived on time and the restaurant didn't have a table for you for far too long. You kept up your end of the deal (you showed up on time, with the correct number of people) and they didn't keep theirs in a reasonable manner. The after dinner drink issues sounds like a similar but unrelated, they were having a bad night of service.

        They should definitely have offered a complimentary drink or glass of wine or at least water while you waited.

        1. Doesn't sound like it to me, how does someone else being 30 mins late translate into you twiddling your thumbs for 40 min? FOTH dropped the ball on this.

          1. They should have comped something for you.

            Call the manager and let him/her know because he/she probably didn't know nor did your waiter.

            I swear there is some invisible tube over the hostess stand that sucks the brain out of every person that works behind it.

            3 Replies
            1. re: BlueHerons

              "I swear there is some invisible tube over the hostess stand that sucks the brain out of every person that works behind it."

              Nice! I'll think of that this weekend while I'm hostessing.

              Really though, they should have, at the very least, apologized. Delays do happen. It's inevitable in a business where you really have no control over how long people stay at a table. Especially if you are smaller. And have no bar. Not that I know of the restaurant in question. I am merely speaking from experience.

              Having said that, 40 minutes is an awfully long time to wait for a reservation. If any party had waited that long, I would have apologized profusely every fifteen minutes and would have definitely bought the party drinks while they were waiting. At the very least.

              1. re: hilltowner

                Modo Mio is BYO, so free drinks weren't an option. Of course, the OP said they weren't even offered *water*!

                1. re: hilltowner

                  My apologies if I offended you.

                  I promise, walk into any one of my husband's restaurants and you'd swear the same thing.

                  Believe me, I've run a many a dining room and ran the hostess stand, it is a tough job.