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How long should you wait..?

I was wondering how other people feel about waiting to be seated in a restaurant
where you have a confirmed reservation and your party has arrived on time?
What exactly is perfectly acceptable? 5 minutes? 10, 15, 20, or longer?
What do you do when your table is just not available...??? I myself, get quite
angry and this really puts a damper on the entire dining experience. Am I over-reacting
or what? Thoughts??/

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  1. I had reservations for two of us.... were taken to a table for 8. I said unacceptable ...hostess said we could wait at the eight top until a smaller table became available. I said we can wait at the bar and you can buy the drinks... she said alright.
    Usually 15 minutes will put a big damper on my dinner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jaylhorner

      15 minutes is acceptable, 30 minutes is annoying.

      Depends on how much I want to eat at the restaurant and how attentive the hostess is while I am waiting.

      No, you're not over-reacting.

    2. Too many restaurants are falling into the Sienfeld service problem...they know how to take the reservation, but they don't know how to hold the reservation. Either they don't train their people properly or they just get greedy. After 15 mins., I start to get really annoyed.

      1. For me it depends on a number of factors....the day & time of the reservation, the number in our party in ratio to the capacity, how honest they are about the wait, and the popularity/style of the restaurant in general. I'm good at waiting. And it pays off...being nice to the hostess and understanding has always gotten us better service than when someone is demanding about an unfortunate situation. What I hate is being lied to (if the wait is 30 minutes, okie dokie, but don't tell me it's 10 or don't tell me our table is waiting for the check and should be leaving soon if they are still on their entrees) and even more being with a group of complainers. We often go to dinner with friends on Friday night (group size 8-10 people), to popular places and one couple always complains about the wait if it's 2 minutes or more and I have stopped included them because, quite frankly, I don't want to hear it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          I guess the problem with us is that we are HUNGRY and don't want to waste time (and sometimes calories) waiting for our table. Unless there are extenuating circumstances I don't want to wait 30 minutes. Unless I am with people I haven't seen in ages, I don't want to hang out in the bar, I don't want to down a couple of drinks or snack on apps while waiting. I want to have my wine with dinner and eat normally. What's wrong with that?

          1. re: lattelover

            Nothing is wrong with that, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. As long as everyone involved is honest and doing their best, I have no issue with it.
            And if waiting is such an issue for people, plan such events at non-peak times, at non-peak places at those times, etc. But if you (general) go to the place that is always slammed on Friday and Saturday night (or Sunday brunch or whatever the case may be), with a large party at a peak time, then don't be surprised if you have to wait.

            One local place we love to go with a group, is always slammed on Friday and Saturday nights. We know if we go at that time we'll most likely be waiting a while, even with a reservation. If we don't want to go through that, we'll go on Sunday or Monday night instead.

        2. I think after 15 minutes I'd start to get ticked off unless the hosts apologized or acknowledged us to demonstrate that we weren't forgotten. If we were ignored (like a group of us were at Rocking Horse Cafe in NYC, waiting for over 1 hour after our reservation time and then the nerve of the hostess asking us if we were tourists as we were seated), I don't find it acceptable. btw, nobody apologized, comped us anything and the food was really mediocre (and I'm not just saying this because I was pissed).

          1. Twelve years ago at Spago in Las Vegas, I had the best experience. Was in town on business with 4 coworkers. Wandered into Spago with no reservation and asked if they could seat a party of 5. They said they could, in 20 minutes. We gave our name and wandered around the Forum, then returned in about 18 minutes. No table was ready yet. We were fine to wait - nobody was irritated (or irritating). None of us was interested in a drink, so we just hung around the entrance. The hostess apologized for the delay and we said it was OK. As we were seated, the waitstaff immediately brought out an appetizer pizza, complimentary, since they had kept us waiting an extra 10 minutes or so. The food was great and the service was great.

            Last January, I was at a buffet-style restaurant is Disney World. We had a reservation to carbo load for the marathon. 1 hour later, we were still waiting. Mary's insulin had kicked in and we were told it was OK to go to the buffet and get her a plate to eat in the hotel lobby while we waited. When we were finally seated, service was fine. But to wait more than 1 hour for a reservation is crazy. By that time, we were stuck, since it was 6:30 the night before 24,000 people were running a race and we would not have been able to get our party in anywhere before 10.

            1. As with many things...it depends. Generally, 15 minutes, maybe 30 tops. BUT, getting angry and "putting a damper on the entire dining experience" is really counterproductive, particularly if you are with a larger party Sometimes a little "homework" ahead of time helps....usually you can find out if a restaurant runs on time. If it doesn't, don't make a reservation. Although a glass of wine may help, I really don't like to be comp'd. An apology or reasonable explanation will do the trick.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sinicle

                How does one find out if a restaurant runs on time (aside from asking on this board)? Do you ask the restaurant directly?

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  I have asked the restaurant directly if we should expect a wait (especially if some of our friends in particular are part of the group) or asked if there could be a better time for more efficient seating. Locally, for large groups (we don't tend to travel or vacation with others, so generally our out of town reservations are for two) we tend to go to places where we are regulars or at least know if the restaurant has a reputation for being slammed, delayed, etc.

              2. If you recognize that your temperament or the plans for your evening depend on being seated right about the time of your reservation, then make certain that you reserve for the restaurant's first seating near the beginning of the turn, usually between 6-6:30. If you, like the majority of urban restaurant-goers in the United States, want to eat at prime time, between 7:30 and 8:30, then realize you face a good probability of a delay sometime during your dinner experience. If not being seated, then either ordering, getting your apps, or being served your mains, as things back up. Obviously, weekends or nights the restaurant has special menus are going to be more popular and crowded. Similarly, the hot new restaurant in town that is still getting the kinks out, or the prime Chowhound destination where you have to reserve far in advance, increase the likelihood of having seating or serving delays. Be reasonable, patient, and make the best of it. Even the best service restaurants will encounter delays, but the very best will make an asset of doing their most to convert a problematic situation into a win-win solution.

                1. well, i'm one of those people with very good time management skills. if i say whatever it is will be at 4:00p, then it will be at 4:00p (actually, it'll be ready @ 3:59p, just in case). consequently, i have little tolerance for people/institutions that waste my time. when i make a reservation, which is generally because we have a schedule to adhere to, i expect to have it honored for the stated time; i'm there at that time, so they should be ready, too. now, i do play the game a bit, and prefer to eat earlier anyway, so i generally make reservations for less busy times. that said, 10 minutes is my limit, at any time of day regardless of reason/excuse. fortunately, i live in a small, walkable town, and i have a good knowledge of the restaurants, so if the reservation won't be honored in a timely fashion, we move on to option 2, which, since it's my nature to make contingency plans, i had already decided upon when i made the reservation. i don't get bent out of shape about it, nor do i give the restaurant/staff grief. i just tell them we're leaving, and then do so. no restaurant can make you wait, you have to choose to. i choose to approach life from a flexible standpoint, rather than have things dictated to me.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mark

                    The problem with that is that the restaurant has no control over the people who are at your reserved table. It sounds like you handle the situation fine. But it is true that the restaurant is dependent on their clients leaving in a timely fashion. I believe that two hours is the standard allotted time, but we've all seen the people who sit and sit long after they've finished their meal and coffee. While some places will ask a party to move to the bar most of the time it is not worth the risk of how the lingerers might react.

                    1. re: Missmoo

                      oh, i understand that, and like i wrote, i'm not a jerk about it (and it rarely happens as my reservations are usually early ones). i'm just not the type to rely on the actions of others when a little flexibility & planning will prevent me from being at their mercy. as far as i'm concerned, there's no restaurant good enough to make me waste time that i will never be able to reclaim.

                      oh, and just to clarify, please don't think i make mulitple reservations; i never do that. my back-up places are always walk-ins, generally within walking distance of the original choice.

                  2. It should be the same length of time that a restaurant should wait for a party to substantially show up for a reservation before considering it cancelled. 15-20 minutes.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Karl S

                      Yeah, that seems to be a very reasonable rule of thumb..

                    2. 15 minutes is the normal grace in jfood's book.

                      But please
                      - do not lie to him.
                      - do not tell him they have finished their coffee when jfood can see the entrees being delivered.
                      - do not tell him the next table is his and then announce "Murphy party of 4"