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How to deal with people who tie up a table after they've paid the check


My husband and I and another couple had an 8:30 reservation at JoJo's last night. We arrived on time and were told that our table had paid their bill and we would be seated in a few minutes. After a half hour of being ignored, we asked the hostess when we would be seated and she said the party still had not vacated the table, there was nothing she could do, and there were no other tables available. So we left and went to Ocean Grill, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner and excellent service.

Don't restaurants have a policy to deal with this situation, which must occur often? Should they have offered us a drink or appetizers to make the wait more pleasant? Should they have said something to the people who occupied the table? Whenever we dine out we always vacate the table after paying the check, especially if the other tables are occupied.

Please let me know your experiences and how we and they could have better handled this situation. Thank you.

  1. I've seen the maitre d' go up to a table and ask the couple if they wouldn't mind moving to the bar if they were finished dining. I could hear him explain that other guests were waiting to be seated and that they needed every table as it was V-day weekend. He was very polite but clearly got the message across that the couple were taking up a table unneccessarily and they needed to move. The couple looked surprised but did move to the bar. My boyfriend at the time and I were then seated at that table - we asked the waitress how long the couple had sat there after paying the bill and she said over 30 minutes.

    12 Replies
    1. re: SeoulQueen

      I've been in a similar situation where the waiter VERY nicely asked my table if we would like to go upstairs to the bar for a drink - they already had seats set aside for us and would bring our drinks to us. I think they comped the drinks but can't recall. It was done so graciously that everybody was happy; our table, the customers waiting and the waiter! This was during restaurant week when it's really busy and tables need to be turned quickly. I don't agree that there's nothing you can do if a table lingers. It's better to encourage the stragglers to leave (within reasonable time lines) than offend the people waiting. Resto's are in the business of making money afterall...

      1. re: SeoulQueen

        on occasion, i've had to do this. some people are gracious, seemingly unaware they have been camping. however, i also have had people blow up at me in a rage and have had people refuse to leave. one couple who had paid over an hour before i asked to move them to the bar, with comped drinks, responded, "oh, really? well ya know what? i think we'll stay all night then." and they did. they sat at that table for over 6 hours. the rest of the room turned 3 times.

        it's a crapshoot.

        if you know people are waiting and the restaurant is expecting to turn your table, i don't understand how people can be so selfish.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          hotoynoodle, I'm just stunned....STUNNED!...that this couple camped out for a total of 6 hours! I'm really curious - did your staff continue to wait on them if they wanted another drink? Or did they just sit there and not order anything?

          And couldn't you have have requested that they leave the premises when they chose to camp?

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Well, according to kchurchill5:

            "They don't have legal rights to ask me to move ...." Which I find hard to believe but I'm sure she wouldn't have taken such a strong position if it weren't true. I've never worked in the industry but that seems ridiculous, doesn't it?

            1. re: c oliver

              Yes, well, I'm completely discounting that particular comment. I'd like to see the law on the appropriate state's books before I believe it.

              I've not worked in the industry either, but I know I have better manners than the party that hotoynoodle's restaurant had to deal with. I'm aware of other people waiting for tables, I'm aware the the implied contract between restaurant and patron is pay for food and drink, but I also know I don't "own" the table - unless said reservation is explicitly stated as *mine* for the night or ownership of said restaurant has made it clear that it is mine for the evening. A good example of the latter would be Ferran Adria's El Bulli or Thomas Keller's French Laundry where you're having a tasting of many courses that will be eaten over a period of 4-5+ hours. A reservation starts at 6pm at TFL, you're going to be there all night, most likely.

              So unless explicitly stated - yes, it does seem ridiculous. But as has been stated - there are always going to be those "it's all about me and screw everyone else" people in the world. I just find it incredible that they are that obtuse to believe that the world does *not* revolve around them!

              1. re: c oliver

                If one is told to leave by property owner/management and refuses to comply, one is guilty of the crime of trespass.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  Well, y'all do know I was being a little sarcastic, don't you??? :)

              2. re: LindaWhit

                the server continued to pour them ice water as needed, but they ordered nothing else, and the table was bare but for the water glasses.

                we all feared a major scene if i asked them to just go, so sucked it up. trust me, plenty of other diners were aware and shot lots of hairy eyeballs. they spent probably half what a normal deuce would drop, too. they were atrocious.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  You'd think they'd have something better to do with their time than playing the game of spite - hope you'd refuse their reservation if they wanted to play again.

                  1. re: alwayscooking

                    yes, big black "X" on their name.

                    no matter how long i am in this industry, somebody will again amaze me.

                    in fairness, with regular guests, it's easy enough to note things like "slow turn time" in your open table and plan accordingly. if somebody is just a clueless a**, then you don't want them back. i get abused enough.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Good to hear about the big black X next to their name. You certainly don't want customers like that. And I think you would have certainly be within your right to have demanded that they leave. I think I would have dealt with the major scene - the rest of the restaurants' guests probably would have given you a standing ovation upon their departure!

          2. friend of mine used to 'Crop Dust' the table..moved them out..real quick.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Beach Chick

              please tell me your friend is not a server, that is disgusting.

            2. It's tricky. Most seated parties tend to really resent being asked to vacate. The general consensus among the dining public seems to be that they have paid for their table and can use it for as long as they like,(even if they are no longer paying for it; ie buying more food/drink). A complimentary drink/appetizer would have been a very good idea in this case, as asking the table to leave may not have been. Asking the table to move to the bar IS an option, but it still requires amazing tact on the part of the manager, as well as nerves of steel.

              In most restaurants, this does not occur often. Things are so variable, and change so frequently, that a table generally comes up. I am guessing that JoJo's may be on the smaller side. The less tables there are, the less variability there is.

              19 Replies
              1. re: hilltowner

                Basically I would be highly offended if someone asked me to move. Sorry I paid to have a nice dinner out and if I like my table I should have it. Now working in a restaurant I understand the turnover ratio and would ask or suggest who I was with to move. But many people don't understand. I would be offended and never instruced by staff to suggest. There are ways to suggest something. Maybe the waiter could say, Our bar offers great deserts and a great atmosphere if you would be interested I could see if they have room, but I would never ask them to move. I was out a couple of months ago with a group of 10. Everyone hung around for over a hour after dinner. I would of moved and suggested, but no one wanted to. So, I stayed. We tied up 2 large tables but we also paid and tipped well.

                Touchy subject. I agree moving to the bar area I would do, but some don't want to and they paid so for me and working in restaurants it would be very wrong to ask them to move.

                Probably one of the reasons why basically I hate eating out. I eat out very rarely at formal or "quality" restaurants. I don't enjoy it at all. Stuffy pretencious, arrogant by staff and waiters or waitresses and honestly I'm bored. I'd rather go to a oyster shack on the beach and have a seafood pot. Dig in with newspaper, good seafood and just have fun, a couple of good margarittas and a hell of a sunset. City fine dining just doesn't appeal in any way to me. Most restaurants I pick are quaint, fun, not quiet, noisy in fact, interesting atmosphere, unique food, no white table clothes for me. I like to feel relaxed when I go out to eat. But that is just me.

                But for the sitting at the table issue ... They have every right to stay there all night if they want and if it was my restaurant, I wouldn't say a thing.

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  How do you feel/react if/when you are kept waiting for your reservation for 45 minutes or more? What would you be saying to the restaurant management after waiting an hour beyond your reservation time? Have you ever considered your POV from the other side of the coin and thought about what "camping" at a table means for those who are coming in to dine "behind" you?

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Honestly, I would wait patiently. I've been a co owner, hostess, waitress, chef and I understand what you are saying. I would ask my friends to move out of courtesy, but if they or whomever I was with didn't want too. Then so be it. sorry. They paid for that table and they should realize to move, but if they don't, they have every right to be there and that restaurant would be extremely wrong to ask them to leave in my opinion. I have worked at low end and high end and I don't care, offering a subtle suggestion to move to the bar is fine and very subtle but anything else and then restaurant can say kiss my ass and I would be back. Sorry. They don't have legal rights to ask me to move although ... a customer should be aware and I would think they would have common sense to move on their own. But if not. Just drink more at the bar and suck it up to dining educational stupidity.

                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      "Honestly, I would wait patiently"

                      You would be the exception that proves the rule in that case (and if reading threads on CH for 8 years has taught be anything about how people react to long waits for reserved tables).

                      Add: And if I was ever eating out with someone who insisted on keeping a table, knowing that others were waiting and after 15 minutes or so of sitting and talking without ordering anything further, that would be the very last time I ate out with them.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Well I've been on all ends, the table people, the waiter, the chef and hostess and waiter/waitress and a co owner. I am still patient and very proud to be one of those who can understand.

                        Thant doesn't mean I agree with it. Personally as I said ... I would move, but it isn't always up to just one person.

                        One of the problems with todays world is we al want want and want and have no patience. I've learned that a little bit of patience, understanding will take you a lot father than always getting what you want. I just don't stress or get upset over stuff like that.

                        And by the way I told my friends what we should do, but they still insisted on staying. My friendship means a hell of a lot more to me than some silly pet peeve. I enjoyed dinner and we will go out again, and we will probably sit at the table again. Oh well. It is what they enjoy. I'm not loosing 20 years of friendship over my in ability to have some patience.

                        1. re: kchurchill5

                          I didn't say I wouldn't remain friends with them. I just wouldn't let them put me in that situation again. And I would tell them honestly why I was not going out to dine with them.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            In the future I would avoid their company in any public setting, and would downgrade the friendship to acquaintance. There are little things that reveal a great deal about people - a person so lacking in consideration for others is bound to disappoint, humiliate, or hurt you sooner or later.

                            The very concept of making reservations implies that a table will be occupied for a relatively fixed period of time. If a restaurant operates with advance reservations, management has every right to expect diners to vacate once they are finished. Tactful nudging of dawdlers is acceptable. Generous tipping helps the server make up for lost income but does nothing for the restaurant's daily profit. Better that the campers take offense and never return to tie up more table-time than to lose business because frustrated would-be customers tire of waiting and leave, then bad-mouth the place to their friends, or when they finally are seated, are in such a bad mood that the meal goes badly for them and the staff.

                            Even in a no-reservations situation, if people are waiting to get in, polite people will take the hint and leave. Even fast food restaurants will ask customers loitering over a coffee or soda to leave, whether or not there are open tables. If you want an endless evening, stay home.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              "There are little things that reveal a great deal about people - a person so lacking in consideration for others is bound to disappoint, humiliate, or hurt you sooner or later."

                              it would appear that some posters aren't affected by either the lack of grace or general sense of entitlement that seem to be exhibited by a huge number in their circle.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                "There are little things that reveal a great deal about people - a person so lacking in consideration for others is bound to disappoint, humiliate, or hurt you sooner or later."
                                Exactly. The fact that there are those diners that have no thought about anyone else who is looking to dine after them tells volumes. Talk about entitlement!

                                And I disagree with the previously stated concept that if a table is reserved, it's "reserved for the night". Only if the restaurant's policy is to do so and it's explicitly stated that said reservation means the table belongs to the person(s) dining all night. Quite frankly, it's those campers that you don't want back - so if one table is offended at being asked to move to the bar (with comped drinks and/or desserts!), so be it. I'm sure anyone dining there after them is very appreciative.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  it's a tough call to make. diners who feel they have been slighted or mistreated are far more likely to moan to their friends that service at place x is horrible. they'll tell 10 friends and those who had a lovely time might tell 2. you never know which will be which.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    True - in this age of Yelp, CH, etc., anyone can trash a place. But if your reputation is such that you've been open for years with lots of good reviews, and one person does a one-off nasty review, hopefully the dining public knows enough to realize they had a stupid vendetta against you for an imagined slight.

                                    But again - you never know.

                            2. re: kchurchill5

                              And I guess in my circle of friends, people would say that patience is not the same as co-dependence, and that enabling fundamentally rude behavior co-dependence, and that good friends don't enable each other.

                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                Y'know K, you may not get a bunch of supporters here on CH for this, but jfood will give you a pat on the back and say, you put your friendship first and these are people whose company you enjoy.

                                And jfoood has taken more than enough hits from other posters because he sides with the restaurants too often. But in this case, you asked your friends and they all agreed to stay. And you placed your friendship ahead of the inconvenience of others and that, jfood is sure, was a tough place to sit for the extended stay.

                                Yes, jfood has been frustrated at times waiting for a table when others have overextended and it is not fun, but he could always leave and go elsewhere, and he has. But if jfood is with a group of people, and everyone wants to continue, it is the restaurant's decisionto putthe line in the sand and do something. So they are placed in a situation of alienating seaters or waiters. It's their call to make and let the chips fall where they may.

                                Enabling rude behavior? It is not enabling bank robbery, it's staying at a table and enjoying the company of people who have been part of your family for 20 years. Go, enjoy and leave the guilt to others.

                                Were jfood you, he would do likewise, the group voted to stay and he would as well. And would he not go out with them again? He absolutely would go out with them again.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  i'm thinking the comment about not dining out again with near-life-long friends was hyperbole. (golly, i hope.) and no restaurant manager in his/her right mind expects a 10-top to turn in 2 hours.

                                  when i've been out with biggish groups of friends who aren't in the business, and explain "we really should be vacating because..." they have always deferred to my experience. it simply didn't occur to them. WE move to the bar, or elsewhere, to continue our enjoyment and not impede that of others. maybe i just don't hang with recalcitrant types?

                                  then again, if we are the last turn for the night, we also don't dawdle for hours after the place is done serving.

                              2. re: Servorg

                                my experience has been that most patience ceases to exist once a reservation is 30 minutes overdue. sometimes 45 minutes, but then that's it. people have babysitters, another social obligation post-dinner, early morning obligations the next day, etc.

                                even with comped drinks, apps in the bar, the party forced to wait is now in a very bad head space and it's very tough to win them back over -- especially if they have never dined with you before. it's an uphill battle for their server, and the guests will nitpick every little thing out of annoyance. you also encounter guests who don't drink, or don't want to wait in the bar because it's too dark./noisy/crowded, what-have-you.

                                it astonishes me that people who claim to have been in the business would have such a sense of entitlement over their dining room real estate and wouldn't take the time to explain simple logistics to their friends who want to camp.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  Or the simple basic courtesy of informing the restaurant of a need for a 3-hour seating when making the reservation when that need is reasonably known in advance.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    you must remember that some people believe they have never been wrong, nothing they do is wrong, and the world in fact does revolve around them and their immediate needs. this sounds like an attack, but it is not meant as such, it is a simple statement of fact.

                                    traditional custom is to allow someone to sit at a table till closing. i agree that anyone with a lick of sense would realize that they are creating problems for others, but some people simply don't care. it's not their problem so let others deal with it. those people deserve our pity more than our scorn.

                            3. re: kchurchill5

                              "They have every right to stay there all night if they want"

                              Oh really? And what gave them that right? Sorry but a dinner does not buy you the right to occupy that table all night if you want to. The owner has the right to decide how long you stay there and you have the right to come back to that establishment or never return

                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                Exactly. In US dining culture, no one purchases a "right" to occupy a table indefinitely. When a guest fundamentally breaches the rules of hospitality (which lingering like that would be), they've lost the "right" expect the indulgences of hospitality in turn.

                                Bye. Bye.

                          2. In every restaurant I've worked at, you are NOT ALLOWED to ever say anything to a table to make them get up and leave or move to the bar. That being said, most waiters do the best they can to encourage it, by removing pretty much everything on the table that can be removed, and by offering less and less drink refills, but if they are "campers" as they are known in the business, there's really nothing you can do.

                            If it's a very busy restaurant and there is literally no other table to offer you, they could have suggested that you eat in the bar but there's nothing you can do to make them move, most places I've worked. You did the right thing - wait awhile, but if it doesn't work out, leave and go somewhere else. There's nothing else you can do as the customer.

                            I think there was a long discussion on CH awhile ago about this and a lot of people firmly believe they should be able to take as long as they want, they paid to eat there and they'll stay as long as they feel like. It's amazing to me.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rockandroller1

                              If possible, stand close to the table, and comment to each other about items on the menu.

                            2. This happened to us once. We are not really big eaters and had ordered entrees only and a bottle of wine. After we had finished eating, to our delight there was a glass each of our wine left. The restaurant was small and a neighborhood type place, though very nice. Should we have ordered starters, entree and dessert, we would have occupied the table much longer than we did. My husband payed the bill and we set about enjoying our wine. The headwaiter approached telling us that there was a couple waiting for our table. It was a jaw-dropping experience. We were gracious, but consequently never returned. It was my birthday, late Oct. and his suggestion was that we finish our wine on the outdoor patio!!?? This place has since gone belly-up. You figure. BTW, the wine was far more expensive that the starter and dessert would have been

                              1. When taking reservations @ my old resto. for busy nights, we would say "we're happy to seat four of you at 6:30, but the table is re-booked for an 8:30 reservation; will that work?" Nine times of ten they'd say "yes", so there's an implied agreement between us- we'll seat you at 6:30, but you gotta be gone by 8:30, even if you showed up @ 7:00 w/ out a phone call. Very rarely did we have problems with this system. adam

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: adamshoe

                                  My favorite local restaurant employs this technic and they are VERY serious about it. As you approach your end time, they let you know about it, and if you want dessert, they'll happy box it up for you. And you know what?, I have no problem with it. It's a highly regarded spot and people happily wait for hours to get a seat, and as you're eating you can see the waiting hordes judge how much longer you'll be. Anyone that lingers beyond the point when they no longer are consuming food and/or beverage is just inconsiderate, in my opinion, and I can't really understand what "dining educational stupidity" has to do with it. Or even what that means.

                                  1. re: adamshoe

                                    If you have that rule and let them patrons know. Absolutely. My friend Jack however has a eating disorder with a fixed jaw. It will take him 2 hrs just to eat a dinner. And after 2 hrs he will still be finishing. Is he not allowed in a restaurant because it takes him a long time to eat.

                                    Ok, you go to a bar with friends one night ... you and your friends order a drink. You end up dancing and just drinking some water because you are taking a break from drinking. Did you rent that table. Doesn't someone else have the right to sit there. Come on. I've seen group after group go to a bar and sit there from 9- closing. No one asked them to move just because they aren't drinking. It there right just like anyone else. The reservation only means you were to be seated at a certain time if possible. Now to me and as a co owner. The restaurant needs to make adjustments for this happening and they need to fit you in. This happens from time to time and the restaurant knows this and should always have a back up plan to accomodate when this happens. This is just poor management. Don't blame the patron. That is just wrong. Sorry

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      Bars tend to be "first come - first served" places where tables aren't reserved. So you really don't have the same situation. I'm sure your friend with the eating problem goes early and not to "hot" places that have just opened up and are getting slammed.

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        or a conversation is had ahead of time, that "we will need the table a bit longer because one of my guests has a medical issue".

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          No, on the contrary he goes every where we go. Just opened, new, late night bars. He doesn't think he has a problem and just treats every day life like everyone else. But he appreciates when people understand it takes him longer to eat. He just has a frozen jaw, nothing more. He should be treated differently and shouldn't have to go at different times just because of that. My friend and ours restaurant, I cared less if someone had a medical issues or stayed all night. We were there to serve them, and you know what they always came back happy and pleased. FYI, the guy is only 40 not elderly and he just can't eat fast is all.

                                          I still think, Let the restaurant deal with the problem is they realy on the 2 hr per table scenario. They if a quality restaurant and are good managers should have a back up and a way to accommodate the customers waiting. If the restaurant wasn't able to work things out. That isn't a restaurant I would go back to. It isn't that hard. We had friday night Fish fries (quality, not just fish and chips) and we were slammed with 50 reservations (small) seating. We always had a back up table we could use for just that case. One guy would come in, eat, drink 3 beers, coffee and watch the other patrons and read magazines and the paper. He would stay 3 hours. He came 3 nights a week, a loyal customer who brought many other customers to us. Sometimes he would comes with friends. Of course he can stay as long as he wants. The other 30 people waiting, well, they can wait. Sorry this is why top high profile restaurants don't impress me. They loose the intimate quality. It is all fake and to me that is so cold. Turn over, and just perfect serve almost robotic. No interaction and personal attention. I knew what my patrons liked, what they wanted. A personal touch.

                                          The two times to NY I ordered Pizza in and it was terrible. San Fran I found more appealing on the waterfront. But very artificial the whole city. Chicago was ok. ATL as long as I was away from downtown. And even though I didn't like Phili Cheese Steaks or the ones I had, some of the local bars I enjoyed. Not the clubs but the pubs and bars. Kansas City I liked, several places. One of my favorite places

                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                            Were you and your partner able to earn a reasonable living given the 'sit and stay' policy?

                                            Without confusing 'bars that serve food' from restaurants make their money from turnover, the restaurants you describe as fake and robotic often serve very lovely, loving prepared food. It should be served by people who discretely anticipate the diners need - it is not cold but perhaps a little too formal for you. These professional kitchens employ a fairly large staff, serve fresh food and so need the turnover to make expenses. The best restaurants are able to adjust and accommodate a longer meal for a very limited number of tables but it is still inconsiderate to remain after the dessert - to both the restaurant and subsequent diners.

                                            I've never been asked to move in a restaurant although I've asked my guests to move with me to another venue. After all, sitting at a restaurant table without a food seems silly - and an ongoing conversation could probably use a change of walls.

                                            A table is not a hotel room - unless it's one you pay for by the hour.

                                            On an entirely different note, what's with the dissing on the cities based on your very limited number of meals? SF appealing food on the waterfront - the pier?! SF as artificial?! NY pizza terrible?! Do you comprehend just how many places there are to eat in those two places?

                                            1. re: alwayscooking

                                              especially since sf and nyc are probably the best cities in which to dine in the u.s.

                                              a florida resident describing sf as "very artificial" made me chuckle though. :)

                                        2. re: kchurchill5

                                          When seating for someone with such a disability, you should ask for a reservation with a longer-than-usual window. I've done that with elderly guests, for example. To assume the restaurant will be able to accommodate without advising it in advance is not reasonable. That's just common sense. And I would also tip up in such a situation.

                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            I've never heard of that and FL is the capitol of elderly. Never heard anyone do that. Nor would I ever do it. It is a reservation simple. Common sense that the restaurant should be able to deal with it. I'm paying them, that is why I pay them to serve us. Probably the reason why I hate going out to snobby up tight restaurants. I can't stand the attitude of most restaurants these days. It makes dining a chore and nothing enjoyable for me. If I want to sit 3 hours, I have every right to. I would also tip well and I would also suggest to my guest to move to the bar, but if he insisted we stay or the other guest said that I would stay. My friends mean more to me than revisiting the restaurant.

                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                              >>"If I want to sit 3 hours, I have every right to."<<

                                              Hey, why limit it to 3 hours? Hotels are expensive. If you have the right monopolize a table indefinitely, why not bring a sleeping bag and settle in 'til morning?

                                              Problem is, you don't have a right to keep the table when you're done dining. The management has every right to ask you to leave, and if you refuse, they can have you removed. They elect not to do so, not because they don't have the right, but because because it's less of a hassle to tolerate rude people than to deal with their rudeness.

                                          2. re: kchurchill5

                                            There is a huge difference between someone who takes a long time to eat and people that have finished eating an hour ago and just want to sit at the table like it's a Starbucks.
                                            The thread is about campers, not slow eaters.

                                        3. Reminds me of the woman who owned a Japanese restaurant that I went to often with my parents. If it was busy, which it was a lot, she had no problem with telling people to go home. One night there was a group of six that were plainly done and just sitting there talking on a busy night. She came up to them and said "Don't you see all those people there waiting? You have a living room and couch, go home and talk there" Also another time, my parents and I came in and she actually moved a couple who already had thier miso and drinks to a 2-person table so we could have the 4-person. Didn't ask if they minded, just grabbed their bowls and told them they needed to move. I saw her do this all the time for years, but always her, never any other staff. I know some people never went back. We did, didn't phase us and we knew what to expect. Place is still going, she has since passed away. I have not been there in quite a while so don't know what happens now.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: elkgrovestella

                                            >>> she has since passed away<<<

                                            I assume it was from natural causes...

                                            1. re: Gail

                                              Yes, unfortunately cancer. Not taken out by a annoyed diner.....although I'm sure some thought a few things at times..........she ran a tight ship.

                                          2. I think it all comes down to basic manners. As jfood posted in another thread, somehow society has descended into the Opera Singer syndrome of "me, me, me, me, me ". The idea of "dining out" is exactly that, dining out, not "dining out and sitting there all night as if it's your own living room." The implied contract of going to a restaurant is that they will serve you a nice meal in exchange for money. Once that "contract" has been fulfilled ie. you have completely finished eating and drinking, one should be courteous enough to vacate the table so that other people can have the pleasure of enjoying the same food and service.

                                            I don't buy into the "I paid for this table so I can stay here all night if I want to" argument. That's fine only if the restaurant is not busy and there are no other diners waiting. Otherwise, it's like insisting you get to stay in your airline seat because you paid for it, even though your flight has arrived and new passengers need to board. Or a 6 year old grabbing a toy he no longer wants to play with, but he'll keep it just so the other kid can't play with it. How incredibly juvenile and self centered.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: SeoulQueen

                                              i think the truth lies somewhere in between (it usually does).

                                              you do not rent a table for the night, but you are paying for more than just food; you pay for a dining experience - which includes coffee and dessert and conversation. People ought to be more aware of their situation, but sadly awareness is rare as diamonds. restaurants are in the hospitality business, and they also need to be aware that they are expected to more than take money slop food on the table and hustle the guest out.

                                              it goes both ways

                                              (and people, as an obnoxious pedantic side note - the word is "fewer" not "less")

                                            2. On another note: I went to breakfast with 3 hrs this am. No reservations, but a line waiting. Packed as always ... We had Bloody Mary's, waited a bit then ordered food. Now I wanted to order right away, my friends no. I patiently waited. We ordered, ate and then they wanted another Bloody Mary and more coffee. We were there 2 1/2 hours. I was actually working on my lap top as I was uploading recipes to a friend this morning so a working breakfast for me. I kept telling them we should move to the outside deck to free a table but NO, they wanted to stay at the table. so I did. So I really agree with the idea that it is polite for people to free the table up, however, I also respect my friends so I stayed and didn't say anything more. Did it bother me yes, but I just had to let it slide and enjoy the time with my friends. We tied up a6 top table for too long I know that, but they didn't care. But they get out business consistently, me once a week, my friends almost daily.

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                i don't think that there is anything necessarily wrong with having a 3 hour breakfast or a five hour dinner :) sounds like you ordered (cocktails), perused the menu, took time ordering, ate, enjoyed yourselves, then ordered more cocktails & coffee and perhaps other menu items for the duration of your 2 1/2 hour stay--what's the problem? i don't see one. sitting at a table while still ordering items, eating or ordering at a slower pace (for whatever reason), finishing the last glass in the bottle of wine. . . in all of these situations the diners are *still dining.*

                                                the thread's about people who rudely camp at a table well after they've finished and paid, despite the inconvenience to waiting patrons. i don't see that they're the same thing at all.

                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                  There is also a difference between having a leisurely breakfast at 7 am on a Sunday as opposed to 10 am. At least that's the case where I live. At 7 am you will have no wait and can most likely have any seat in the house. By 10 am there is going to be a wait at the more popular spots and it would be pretty rude to spend 3 hours at a table because you know there are lots of people waiting for your table. If you do spend 3 hours at a table you damn well be spending a good amount of money and tipping your server appropriately.

                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                    Unfortunately you are wrong, but all locations differ. This place is packed at 7 and at 10 it is almost empty. And I agree my friends were rude, totally agree but I respected them since they invited me and they wanted to sit even though I said we should move, they didn't want too. I enjoy my time with them so I just sucked it up and stayed with them. It was their choice and yes we way over tipped which I always do with descent service. If the company I was with wanted to just sit and then not tip well. I would be the first one to throw in extra without them knowing to make up the difference. Always tip well and always compensate if my table over sits that is a must. Been in the business too long. My tip would of been equal to 2 or 3 tables so I definitely made up for the loss of turning the table over.

                                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                                      What part of "At least that's the case where I live" didn't you understand?

                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                        Tipping is one thing; taking revenue away from the restaurant is totally separate. This thread astounds me --- just when I think I'm too old to be astounded any more. Buying a meal and the service does NOT mean buying the table. And if that's a law in some states, I'd like to see THAT statute. And to think that in a party of ten that a majority (SIX) have such bad manners that they would insist on staying is just beyond me. Maybe six obnoxious drunks but I find it hard to believe that SIX sane people could be so rude. And I PROMISE you that I could get their butts out of those chairs --- without losing friends in the process. And if I had a friend who was a slow eater, I wouldn't find one thing wrong with explaining that when I made the res - no details necessary - and ask if tying up the table for longer than normal would be a problem. So you agree that they were rude. So please then don't try to defend that kind of behavior. Wrong is wrong. Sheesh.

                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                          Given that the restaurant was packed and there was a long line at 7am when you all sat down, the restaurant is lucky not every patron had the same attitude as your friends or there would be a huge line at 10 plus they would have lost a host of business since no one was vacating their seats. As a restaurant owner, you might appreciate the hardship, especially in this economy of losing business to thoughtless people.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            I just reread part of this and realized they got there at 7am and started drinking first and eventually ordered food. If I started with the hard stuff at 7 in the morning, I might find my good judgment altered just a teensy bit :) Doesn't excuse it but maybe I'm beginning to understand the rudeness.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              We all worked midnight shift. So 7 am was 7pm for us. I was on a boat from 2 am till 6 am. And I am not being rude, just honest.

                                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                Ah, well, I was trying to excuse your friends' rudeness but guess that didn't work either. So I'll go along with your assessment and just call them rude.

                                                                BTW, have you come across that statute yet about the legal rights to stay at a restaurant table? Some of us are quite interested in that.

                                                            2. re: chowser

                                                              It reminds me of a time when I was waiting in line at the local diner on a Sunday morning. The place seats about 40 including the counter, tables are shared, and the line goes along the length of the place and out the door, often around the corner - on a Sunday morning, the line is much longer then the number of seats.

                                                              A party of 8 arrived and service had hold empty tables until there were enough space to fit the group. They were seated and, unlike the rest of the patrons, only ordered coffee (most everyone orders everything at once - it's that kind of place). They then proceed to open presents, yak, go out to smoke until they eventually order their meal. After eating, they continue to talk, make calls on their cell phones, drink the free coffee refills, and let the kids play outside and return.

                                                              I know this because I was in line.

                                                              And a riot nearly started - they only left when people in line (not me!) started heckling the group.

                                                              I hope I never experience it again. They could have the owners of the place, it would not have mattered.

                                                      2. re: kchurchill5

                                                        I would be horribly uncomfortable if my "friends" were so selfish that they purposely kept other patrons waiting, especially if I kept telling them that what they were doing was rude, and offering alternatives such as moving to another area. As Servorg said upthread, these would not be people I choose to hang with, in public at least. Whatever other good qualities they might possess would be obliterated by their boorish behavior - and you know what they say about birds of a feather.

                                                        1. re: small h

                                                          My mother always said "water seeks its own level." I guess I'm glad those people tend to find each other. But I wish they'd wear big signs warning the rest of us.

                                                          1. re: small h

                                                            Dining is fun for me but doesn't rule my life. My friendship with those who I have had for over 20+ years and some more mean more to me. I don't agree with them but I just let it slide. I'm not ruining a friendship for a stupid stay at a breakfast table. We don't eat out all that much, but I just can't see food over friendship.. Sorry and please no offense, I understand your opinion

                                                        2. cripes, sometimes people lose track of time. Not everyone is hunkering down and staying just to be rude or ignorant.

                                                          What exactly is "longer than normal" ? I went out to dinner last night at a fairly upscale resto and we were there over three hours. Part of that time (maybe half hour tops, likely less) was after the check was paid, as we'd just got caught up in talking. I was dining with relatives that i hadn't seen in a few months. The place wasn't full, but i'm sure glad now after reading some of these comments that they didn't shuffle us out the door in two hours.

                                                          I might expect a quick turnover in a chain restaurant, but with finer dining, with app's, entrees, dessert and a bottle (or two) of wine, that's an event for some people, particularly in this economy. I wouldn't expect to be treated like I was on an assembly line in such a restaurant.

                                                          Then again, I wouldn't put the place up either if I was asked to move, but it would cut the evening short. If you're done eating and don't want any more drinks before hitting the road, going to sit at the bar seems a bit off.

                                                          1. Wow the vitriol is so high on this topic, makes the tipping threads sound like a walk in the park. And jfood does not want to cause a flame war, either.

                                                            But where does it say that a restaurant is a pareto optimal business model? This is not child abuse, or Bernie Madoff, or wife beating, it's a table where some people are enjoying their friends' company. And if they overstay their welcome, hey life is too short to get to the point of a cutting off their limbs.

                                                            Maybe they do not have a place where they can seat 10, maybe there is no A/C in their apartment, maybe they have the sitter until midnight and they just want to gaze into each others eyes instead of returning to the screaming banchee.

                                                            And let's be fair about the money out of the server's pocket and the restaurants' coffers. How many of the posters with the "off with their heads" attitude have never shopped in a store, used the salespeople's time and knowledge and then heard the price and left, knowing you could get it cheaper on the internet? Salepeople and store earned zippo. What about car shopping? "Oh man I'm gonna cut a great deal." Yup, that seemed to work out pretty well for the auto industry. Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians in play.

                                                            And how many times have you spent less than the 2 hours that were allocated and the restaurant and the servers had three, instead of two, turns?

                                                            Now jfood is not advocating overstaying your welcome for the heck of it, but for the 1% who find the table a place to enjoy company, share a quiet few hours with the new mommy, or just want to have a nice father-daughter evening, jfood is willing to cut some slack.

                                                            No different from a table for 10 ordering 5 split salads, 5 split chicken dishes and one person orders the coffee. It a law of large numbers, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But let's please put this a little into perspective.

                                                            Now jfood leaves the soap box, to gat some dinner ready for a leisurely sunday night with the whole famn damily.


                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              The trouble is that people who routinely "camp" at restaurant tables no matter the circumstances are, most likely, jerks who are proud to display those same jerk like attributes in many other ways.

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                this is such a fine example of arguing from the extreme, which i see on this site all the time. makes me nutty. not everyone who "camps" does so routinely. Not everyone who camps, views it as jerkish behavior - if it was clear cut this thread wouldn;t exist.

                                                              2. re: jfood


                                                                I think there have been people on this thread who have offered commonsense advice on better ways to handle legitimate needs than "I have had right to stay at a table as long as I want". You are buying into a polarization that is less polarized than you depict....

                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                  I think when people use expressions like "they can kiss my a$$," "I have a legal right," I own this table (all paraphrases), and then in the next breath say yeah, I know it's rude, some vitriol is probably to be expected.

                                                                  Respect and good communication are the keys here I believe. Looking around the restaurant and seeing alot of people waiting? Respect. Knowing in advance that you have a slow eater with you or mom and dad haven't had a dinner out alone in forever? Just communicate that when you make your res or even when you show up. Ask if it's problem. Oh, gosh, that gets back to the respect thing, doesn't it?

                                                                2. re: jfood

                                                                  "How many of the posters with the "off with their heads" attitude have never shopped in a store, used the salespeople's time and knowledge and then heard the price and left, knowing you could get it cheaper on the internet?"

                                                                  ah, jfood, have you been reading my blog? But seriously, to answer your question, us retail slaves are paid the same each hour no matter what people buy or don't buy. Very, very, very few retail people are on commission so we get paid the same to people who come in who are "just looking" as we do to those who buy thousands. It's not the same business model as a server, when what you make per hour depends heavily on what you are able to sell to customers. If someone is taking up your table for 2, 3 hours or more, just because they might order another $20 in drinks or a $10 dessert here and there is not the same as what they could be making if a new group were able to sit there and order $100-300 worth of food and drink.

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    jfood, while I usually agree with you, on this we shall have to disagree. This is not a situation of asking the diners leave - it's about those diners who *out and out refuse* to move to another spot within the restaurant, even if they'd be getting comp'ed drinks, dessert, whatever. Vacating the table to a spot at the bar would still allow mommy and daddy the ability to continue spending quality time together - AND it allows OTHER mommies and daddies to enjoy their dinner at the table that has been vacated by said first couple. Again - it's a matter of courtesy and respect of others...which said first couple seem to not have. There is NO "legal right" to that table unless the restaurant says they have it for the night.

                                                                    Enjoy your dinner. :-)

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit


                                                                      Please re-read OP. It was the restaurant that told them "there was nothing they could do about it." There have been other sub-threads that yes have stated that certian diners have been less than fulfilling their social contract.

                                                                      If there is another table in the bar or lounge where the group can convene, it is the proper thing to do. And for every lingering party, that usurps the table there are times when the restaurant brings the entrees 2 minutes after apps are done. Then there was the time that the restaurant was slow in serving and asked the jfood party to move to the bar area. They brought them their coats and when the jfoods and friends moved to the bar, there were no tables. Standing there, holding coats, the MOD brought desserts over. And jfood stared at him. No answer for the question, "where do we sit?" The jfoods left. Owner called him at home two days later to apologize and offer a free foursome dinner on him. Victory from the jaws of defeat and new MOD when jfood arrived. So it can go both ways.

                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                        jfood, not being in that particular restaurant at that particular time, and knowing whether there was any space in the bar of the OP's post, we don't know know if it was a "nothing they can do" or "nothing they will do" situation.

                                                                        I was speaking to the part of the thread which was discussing campers. Not the OP. And by using a comment about party of 10, your post removed it from the OP's initial post as well (there seems to have been two couples at the initial OP's restaurant).

                                                                        Either way - I still don't believe that any table, unless specifically expressed by the restaurant's MOD or owner, has the "right" to "own" a table just by virtue of a reservation.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          And jfood agrees that the customer does not "own" or have any "right" to a table. That is squarely in the hands of the owner. But if the restaurant owner, or through their agent the MOD, do not do something to "forclose" on their rights of ownership, it is the Owner, as well as the squatters, that are equally guilty.

                                                                          Who knows, mayber if they called the police to remove the squatters they may be met with a round of applause or others leaving in disgust. It would be an interesting story to read.

                                                                  2. Wow, after reading about some the experiences here and some of the posts, its clear why the US govt. has an "entitlement" problem--and the more people have, the more they seem to believe they are entitled to. Generally speaking, I believe the "camper" problem really depends on the circumstances. Yes, some people are jerks but I think they are the exception rather than the rule. I used to have a cousin by marriage who was very well off. We often dined out with him and his wife, they both loved great resto's and so did we. This cousin would never, ever allow us to pick up a check, but he also insisted on leaving no more than 5 minutes after paying. No coffee, no after dinner drinks--nada, just pay and depart. So my husband and I would go home have a coffee and maybe a brandy and off to bed. This was my cousin's quirk and as his guests we humoured him. NBD. I can see everyone's side on this issue, except of course the numnuts who "camped" for six hours. They must lead very unhappy lives indeed.

                                                                    1. to take it back to the OP, yes many restaurants will address "campers" when a certain line/time limit has been crossed, the "campers" are clearly no longer ordering anything, and there are hungry, frustrated customers, many with overdue reservations, waiting.

                                                                      many times the "campers" are offered a complimentary round of drinks or dessert at a lounge/bar table in order to encourage them to vacate the dining room table. many times the staff will comp the party waiting for the "camped" table a round of drinks in the bar, & have them peruse the menu in advance of being seated, so that as soon as the table opens the dinner can get going as soon as possible and the second dining party can get to other evening plans on time.

                                                                      sometimes a "camping" party is so involved/oblivious that all it takes is for a floor manager to subtly hint that other patrons are waiting for the table, in order for them to immediately realize that they are being inconsiderate to the other patrons, and they move/leave promptly. then there are people who feel entitled for whatever reason.

                                                                      any maitre d' or floor mgr in his/her right mind knows some basic laws of dining-- the larger the party, the longer the stay. the 10 top probably just isn't going to be winding up the evening in an hour. same goes with tables with multiple elderly folks or infants. the establishment can try to keep the reservation book on schedule, but it eventually comes down to the patrons, and unfortunately the folks with the later reses might be inconvenienced, when all the stars aren't aligned properly.

                                                                      as a customer i think it's allowable for there to be a brief wait for a table, even if i have a res, depending on the size/popularity of the establishment. after 1/2 hour i'd be getting ticked off, like the OP. if i was the restaurant mgr i would have offered the op temporary seating and VIP treatment, comps etc in the lounge area by that point. i would also have made efforts to roust the campers from the table.

                                                                      note that in the worst-case scenario, the restaurant is comping both the campers and the campees, and the campees are still ticked off. it's a no-win for the establishment when people decide to really be entitled a-holes, and the whole situation is stressful for the foh staff. the waiting customers, of course, are apt to be more upset, and since they are also hungry, they can sometimes get outright livid.

                                                                      as i've already stated i don't have a problem with parties who want to make an extended evening out of it, as long as they continue ordering menu items, or they made it clear they'd be at table longer at the time of res. i don't have a problem with friends who haven't seen each other wanting to just talk for hours and hours. dh's grandma is a darling about this: she *asks* for an out-of-the-way, undesirable small table on a tuesday, demands little attention from the server, has a 3 hour session, then tips 40% or more for the courtesy. & it's all just easier when whatever special circumstance is spelled out verbally when the res is made-- "i am incapable of eating a meal in less than 4 hours." whatever. that's fair.

                                                                      it isn't fair when folks bogart a table for no reason when they are finished, paid, & aware of other people waiting, hungry, standing in uncomfortable shoes, holding their mil's handbag. that's just lame, imho. unfortunately there seems to be a line where the diner staff will say something (i'm picturing the locally (to me) famous al's diner-- just try to "camp" there! :-P), or the fine dining staff will have the camping party moved so effortlessly that the campers think it was their own idea, etc. . . but the lousy chain people won't do anything for fear of the regional memo, the midlevel restaurant mgr has no bollucks, etc. the camping issue is one that comes out in midlevel places, or on off nights, or whenever there are inexperienced people running the floor, or whenever there is a large concentration of seriously anti-social, maladjusted, entitled a-holes running around with company credit cards. i think the OP was correct to leave. if she's charitable, i'd give the establishment another chance-- after all the main fault probably is with another patron, not the restaurant. at the same time, waiting forever for a meal is ridiculous, take your business elsewhere and get on with life.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                        Perfectly stated with very little venom spewing :)

                                                                      2. It appears that all sides have been heard at this point, and things have become unpleasant, so we're locking this now.