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May 4, 2008 06:43 AM

Rushed out of Ten Tables

Ate dinner at Ten Tables in JP last night and, to my dismay, because the next party to sit at my table was waiting outside, we were asked to leave, mid-coffee...Apparently, reservations are timed pretty close together and if you're enjoying a leisurely meal and catching up with friends, you run the risk of running up against a deadline. Though I understand, given how small this restaurant is, that they don't have a lot of flexibility in terms of seating people somewhere else, it seemed to me like there must be a better way. Is this typical at a small restaurant?

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  1. I'd be curious to know how you were asked to leave. Was it closer to;

    A. "You need to leave soon. We have another group waiting for your table."


    B. "Excuse me folks, as we mentioned when you made your reservation, we're a small restaurant and we usually allow two hours for parties to finish their meals. You have been here two and a half hours and there's another group waiting outside for your table on this nasty night. Would you be so kind as to finish your coffee at the bar so we could seat the next party? We'll be happy to send you a complimentary cocktail for working with us." Or something along those lines. Yes, this is a typical dilema at a lot of small Boston restaurants. It happens all the time, especially on a weekend night at one of the most popular restaurants in the city. It's all in the approach, and the attitude, on both sides of the equation. There are the entitled people ("squatters") who will argue, to the nth degree, that "I am the customer" (and whatever I think or say is beyond reproach), blah, blah, blah, and there are people who totally "get it", and are happy to be a little flexible and work with the servers, owners and managers so that everyone wins. Maybe Ten Tables doesn't have a bar, and I don't know enough detail regarding your situation, but I'm sure there could have been a more gracious way to handle the situation, given the fact that you left disappointed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PJ Mac BJ

      PJ, I can't tell you the number of times I have had to enact scenario B. You are right, it's all in the delivery. 9 times out of 10 the guests take it well and understand. We are running a business, and must have turn over to make enough money to stay in business. Usually 1.5-2 hours is ok in our place, but factors arise: the party straggles in over the course of a half hour, or the party wants to relax over some drinks before even cracking open the menu, etc. It's awkward, and I hate to do it, but sometimes you have to. Ann, how do you feel it would have been better handled?

    2. Oh boy, my favorite type of place. My deal breaker.

      You're not going back, are you?

      What would they have done if you didn't leave, call the cops?

      >>how do you feel it would have been better handled?

      They could have done two things:

      a. as at another rude restaurant, the hostess informed the person calling for a reservation that they had a two hour limit on their food.

      b. they could have instituted seatings for the evening or hereafter.

      As it was, it's like the item marked a certain price on the supermarket shelves that the checkout wants to charge the patron for. Uh no, you've got to give it to me for the price that was marked.

      annlaw, is it an amazing restaurant? Was the owner remorseful about asking you to leave? If not, stay until you're done, it's their problem.

      10 Replies
      1. re: dolores

        But it's not just their problem. It's the problem of the people who are waiting for your table, too.

        Ten Tables isn't just a clever name- they have ten tables. They're literally too small to enact a two-seating per night kind of schedule and turn a profit.

        I swear, if people just used common courtesy, this wouldn't even be an issue.

        1. re: invinotheresverde

          But the OP didn't say when they were asked to leave.

          If I were asked to leave before two hours, I wouldn't move.

          Common courtesy? Cost of doing business. If you're moving into a space whose turnover rate you hadn't figured out to be equitable to everyone, you shouldn't be in the restaurant business.

          1. re: dolores

            Agreed that more info is needed before making a judgement.

            The cost of doing business and being a conscientious diner have nothing to do with one another. Nothing is fair to EVERYONE, and toes get stepped and feelings get hurt. THAT'S the cost of doing business in the restaurant industry. Not every diner is going to agree with every decision made, but sometimes restaurants have to make these decisions for the good of the business.

            P.S. Ten Tables is mega successful and is always packed! I think they're doing just fine "be(ing) in the restaurant business". Just because they don't do something to your liking doesn't mean they're inept.

            1. re: invinotheresverde

              Agreed. I have to discount the opinion of someone who doesn't even live in the city the restaurant is located in, since the fact that Ten Tables is one of the most generally beloved restaurants in Boston means they must be doing something right. Especially considering that the OP still hasn't answered the entirely reasonable question of "How long had you been there?," I think there are some unwarranted assumptions being made.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                Good for them. Then if they are planning well and the OP had at least two hours for dinner, no biggie.

                If not, the OP was rushed and has a right to be upset.

                It still has nothing whatever to do with 'common courtesy'. It's not my problem if the scheduling is inept.

                1. re: dolores

                  Scheduling and lingering diners have nothing to do with one another. If you've finished dining in a mobbed restaurant, you leave; especially if the restaurant in question only has ten tables. To not do so is downright rude and displays a HUGE sense of entitlement.

                  Or, upon making your reservation, simply let the restaurant know that you prefer a leisurely dinner and may be there for quite a while, so they can reserve guests accordingly.

                  Also, why is two hours the magic number? What if my magic number is three hours? What makes it okay to ask them to leave after two hours but not 1.5 hours? I don't understand the logic here.

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    Yes, the "magic number" depends a lot of factors including the type of restaurant you go to (fine dining or casual), how many courses you order, etc. One of these fast food restaurants (was it White Castle?) even posts a policy that says you need to eat your meal within 1/2 hour. And I've seen them enforce it. Last time I was there, one of the workers announced over the loudspeaker that if this certain party didn't leave, they were going to call the police. If I had a 13 course meal (which I did as stated below), I would expect to be there a bit more than 1 hour. In fact, I believe I left there after 1 hour and 45 minutes. If I was at a fine-dining restaurant, I would expect the "magic number" to be 2 hours. So it all depends on the situation. I haven't been to Ten Tables so I don't know what kind of place it is -- except that it has ten tables. But it doesn't really sound like fine dining to me.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      It's more of a really well-done small neighborhood restaurant than "fine dining." Midrange prices (dinner for two with wine will be usually be somewhere between $125 and $150 unless you're doing one of the tasting menus) but with higher quality and better technique than you might expect. It's actually a really good example of a type of restaurant there aren't enough of in Boston, which has a lot of high-end and a lot of cheap eats but not enough in the middle.

                      For the record, I think all of my meals there have run in the two-hour range, possibly a little over, and I have never felt unduly rushed there. In fact, the reason I'm so surprised about this complaint (and why I wonder how long the OP had been there!) is that the usual knock on Ten Tables is that the servers are a bit too leisurely!

                    2. re: invinotheresverde

                      I believe according to the timeline as laid out by numerous posters, two hours is the approximate time for a leisurely dinner.

                      Any less is rushing. Any more is fine if the place can accomodate it.

                      It's still the restaurant's responsibility to schedule their reservations properly. I'm not leaving until I've enjoyed my leisurely meal. Let them know ahead of time!? Now that is probably the silliest thing I've read in a looooong while.

                      1. re: dolores

                        But what if the OP's (or my, for that matter) idea of a leisurely dinner is three hours? What if I think any less than three is rushing? There is no "right" answer. If I'm with colleagues from the wine industry, we may purchase and sample 10+ bottles of wine to course out. That'll take longer than two hours. Should we get the boot on a $3,000 (or more) check just because we've hit Dolores' two hour mark? Or, what if my husband and I are celebrating an anniversary with a bittle of Krug Clos de Mesnil before we even think to look at our menus? Do you really think the resataurant is going to rush us through a $1,500 bottle of champagne?

                        Which again, brings me to my point. There is no right answer and common courtesy dictates. If you're on your third cup of coffee and the place is mobbed, it's time for you to go, whether you've been there for one hour or six.

                        I always forget that it's impossible to "argue" with people who haven't worked in the industry. You'll always think you're correct, even though you have no idea how restaurants run.

                        "Oh, it's the restaurant's responsibility to schedule their reservations properly". Well, what, may I ask, is properly? Schedule all reservations 2-2.5 hours apart and let the tables from quicker diners sit empty? Or, schedule them according to how most dine (which at a place like Ten Tables, is probably 1.5 hours), and let the campers get huffy? Since you have the magic answer, what is it? I'm just dying to know.

                        Also, as one who frequently complains about being rushed, maybe my suggestion above really isn't, "the silliest thing you've heard in a looooong time". It'll allow you to linger, the server/manangement to know in advance, so they don't try to hurry you, and the reservationist from rebooking your table in their normal fashion. Everybody wins. Silly, huh?

          2. Ten Tables is very overrated. WE have had lousy food there including mushy swordfish and the people who work there are very self impressed. I would say if you are turned off from going back you are saving yourself from more bad experiences. My opinion is far from the specturm of chowhound adoration on the boards for this place. Oh and there is no place like a bar for you to go when you are kicked off your table is there??

            1. There is more information required before a decision can be made.

              How long were you you there? If 90 minutes or less not a good move from the resto. If over 2.5 hours then the resto has the right to change their table. Was the process of the meal at a good clip? Were you late for a reservation?

              Just stating that they asked you to adjourn can go either way.

              1. annlaw, can you elaborate on how long you were seated? I have never been asked to leave, then again when I am with a large group we usually make reservations two hours before closing, so we are never rushed to cram in one more party nor are we making the staff stay late to cater to us. It is the best way to catch up with old friends without being a burden or being kicked to the curb in the middle of catching up with old friends. Plus if we hit it off, we can mosey over to the nearest bar to have a nightcap, and celebrate old things made new again.