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Perfume/cologne in restaurants?

  • ElsieB Jun 14, 2009 08:25 AM
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There used to be separate sections for smoking and non smoking tables in restaurants - a thing of the past now. But what about the people who like their 'scent' to cover a 3 yard radius?
We were in our favorite french restaurant for our anniversary dinner, everything was perfect for the first 2 courses then a couple was seated next to us and one of them had an overwhelming perfume smell - I was disgusted and could literally taste the nasty smell. My husband spoke with our waiter and even though they were very full and busy they moved us immediately. Anyone else had this happen? How can people be so clueless and inconsiderate?!
Disclaimer: I do hate all perfumes and colognes - what is being covered up?

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  1. Personally I have a very low threshold for cologne and perfume. I find it more intrusive to fine dining than loud children. All in all people should think past themselves when going to public areas. Although some may find it appealing. My wife likes the smell of cigars, I on the other hand find them repulsive......

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lenox637

      We don't eat out much but it can make me sick when there's someone super-scented in a closed training room or conference, on a bus, etc.

    2. Sometimes people have impaired sense of smell- particularly happens with age. Not an excuse though. I give myself one shot, once a day when I get dressed and nobody has ever told me my perfume is too strong (my father\mother are allergic and would certainly say something to me).

      It is, however funny how cigarette smoke masked a bunch of odors that were always around- in bars I notice BO more readily and I have also pick up the scent of "dogs" on people which is disgusting.

      1. I love a good cigar in a cigar bar but some don't always smoke good ones, I usually just move. A restaurant not always easy, but yes some over do to the point of being unbearable. I usually see if I can be moved if it is that bad but sometimes not possible. In those cases I just grin and bear it. I don't like it but realize they have every right to be there as I do. Once my ex put on too much and I had him wipe some off. He couldn't figure out why, I explained when it is on you ... you can't always smell how strong but others can. He was very willing and understood. I think some people when a couple the spouse or significant other may not say anything and doesn't want to hurt their feelings but I would not hesitate to mention it (very tactfully) But it is a hard thing to handle, but many times I just sit finish dinner and just deal with it.

        And I am sure those who are sensitive to smell have a hard time. A friend that was a co worker was extremely sensitive to all smells and going out for lunch now and then was very hard. Luckily in FL out door eating is pretty much year round. But I'm sure in a crowded city it is probably very difficult. We have more problems with different scents of suntan lotion (cocoanut vs banana vs tropical scent, lol) than perfume or cologne.

        1. Those heavily rose scented odors kill me, it's like you entered a funeral home. Also that gross smelling anti-persperient some use, gag me!

          1. I love a bit of scent on myself, but a restaurant is NOT the place for it. However, I honestly can see non-foodies, those who eat to live, having to be told that their strongly scented whatever impacts the pleasure of dining for other people.

            I'd have asked to move myself.

            1. What I find worse is the glass table restaurants that use ammonia based cleaners on the now vacant table next to you.

              1. I don't really recall having an issue with perfume in restaurants. Guess that I've been lucky. What I find truly repulsive is the smell that some bars get behind the bar from all the spilled beer. It's not a stale beer smell but more of a bacterial odor from something maybe feeding on the spilled beer. It is notorious at places that do tons of bottles.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Chinon00

                  Ahhh... the great smell of a dive bar!

                2. I haven't had this happen that many times, but I have been forced to move in public transport because someone is wearing a scent that is too strong. Certain scents give me asthma attacks or trigger migraines, so I pretty much have to move ASAP. I think in any situation where you're in close contact with people, you should be aware of whether your scent is too strong.

                  1. The worst is when the servers have cologne on! Ugh.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: melly

                      I ran a small 40 seater for a few years. Rule #1 with new people (waitstaff, bartenders, kitchen staff, didn't matter) was no perfume, no cologne, no hand cream, nada!

                      I also ran a small, seasonal french fry/hot dog joint. Our customers were all regulars and I even got to know some people by their scent (actually their perfume or cologne or a few by the scent of their hair goop). The hood sucked in plenty of air from the order area and I knew when certain customers were up front!

                    2. Contrarian view. I love food and I love good perfume. I do not care to be told that I should never wear it in a restaurant or otherwise in public. That being said, some people do use too much scent and even I have been bothered by it in restaurants. The trick is to wear just enough - it should never be apparent to anyone farther away than kissing distance.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: buttertart

                        I agree 100%. I love great food, and good smells in general. Both my man and I use perfume / cologne, but we never go crazy. I'd still take too much perfume on someone else over BO, but... everything in moderation. The Golden Rule.

                      2. I'm very sensitive to smell and have often been forced to flee those who use perfume by the bucket. As far as I'm concerned anyone who sets foot in a restaurant with a smell that's perceptible more than a foot away should be hoisted up by the ankles and dipped in a tub like a flea-infested sheep!

                        1. I cannot remember which menu I saw this on, years ago, but printed in a small, elegant font at the bottom was "Please, no cell phones, no patchouli." Thank you, mystery restaurant!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: small h

                            oh Lord the smell of Patchouli Oil - bleh. If I get a whiff of it these days I am immediately transported to the 1970s.

                            I don't think one can legislate or even complain about people's perfumes. Some things are just sent to try us. Move to another table or leave, or put up with it. Some people complain too much about anything and everything. I would rather smell perfume than BO.

                          2. Cologne and perfume can be pretty bad. But what they are sometimes used to mask can be worse.

                            1. I went to a German Wine Society tasting once, and found myself next to a young lady who was apparently the date of one of the society's officers. I'm not so expert myself that I have anything against a newbie who was there to learn, but her date hadn't prepped her, and she was doused in Poison. I was trying to figure out if I could use a run to the ladies' as an excuse to move, when a hatchet faced old bat in a Chanel suit (seated farther from her than I was) proceeded to wise her up. And down, and sideways.

                              Poor girl and her date both disappeared after the first wine pairing. I think a lot of us felt bad for her, but relieved as well. I can't think why her date, who certainly knew better, didn't save her from herself.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Meann

                                oh, that "poison" was a grapey horrible miasma. it seemed ubiquitous for a long while. also in this vein: giorgio!!!

                                do they still make poision? i haven't smelled it on anyone in a very long time, thank goodness (but i think i can still "smell it" in my mind). same for giorgio. i'm happy those fads have passed.

                                i like scent, on me and mr. alka, but we don't wear it "loudly". i wouldn't wear it to a wine tasting, for sure.

                                ~~~~~~
                                as to scent masking b.o. -- i think it just compounds the foul impact! ugh! how can people not wear deo? maybe they're the same people who hardly brush their teeth.
                                <i. just. can't. fathom. that.>

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Never was a scent so aptly named as Poison. Dior perfumes in the 90s were pretty awful. I have a friend in Paris who was pregnant when Dune came out and the women were awash in it - it was unbearable. It all comes down to consideration for others - there are an awful lot of people in this world who apparently think they are the ONLY people in the world.

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    Fragrance+BO is worse than either separately, but any individually will make me gag (when I first smelled patchouli not mixed with the smell of BO and "incense" I was surprised that it wasn't G*d awful).

                                    There are plenty of people who think they can cover their (or their clothing's) smells with cologne, but they're so wrong.

                                    Dirty bleach rags used to clean tables, or even the clean ones with the fake lemon scent are just as bad and have made us lose our appetite completely.

                                    On an unrelated note, the cheese tray brought over for the neighboring table (room temp, during our first course), made me pause until the smell dissipated. I love cheese, but the smell didn't pair well with the delicate course we had been enjoying!

                                    1. re: Caralien

                                      i just was tempted to buy a patchouli plant at a local nursery (sam's farm). i wondered if it would release its scent if one didn't rub the leaves.

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        Apparently patchouli is a very fragrant plant that's easy to kill.

                                        This post inadvertently reminded me of college (who knew there was a Vicks plant?):
                                        http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/lo...

                                2. I do not hate perfumes and colognes. I appreciate the judicious application of these on a young lady. I also apply a bit of these, before going out. The big difference is temperance.

                                  When dining out, I use a fragerance-free after-shave balm. If I'm doing a serious tasting, I omit even that. Yes, there might be the slightest scent from my shaving cream, but that is insignificant. My lovely wife is the same way. For dining, only the most subtle scents and applied with great care. For wine tastings - nothing.

                                  I have had many dinners and more wine tastings ruined by someone three tables over, who bathed in scents. However pleasent I might find these at a football game, I hate them in a restaurant. I especially loathe them when tasting wines in more than a pure social occasion.

                                  A loud perfume is the same as a loud patron in my book. Folk should consider this aspect.

                                  It's like a giant arrangement of stargazer liles near my table. I love these flowers, in an open lobby, but do not wish my entire meal to taste of them.

                                  Hunt

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    Stargazer lilies should never be used in arrangements anywhere near dining tables. Their fragrance is extremely pervasive and really does destroy the taste of food. That's one scent I cannot bear, it has a funereal taint to me.

                                  2. This just happened to us the other night. We were sitting against the wall and another couple came in and sat behind us. I got an instant headache from her perfume and DH could smell it as well. He immediately switched places with me. She was not even on my side of the table (back to back) but on the other side!

                                    1. i do not like strong perfume odors. however i like people thinking their own comfort overrides other's rights way way more offensive.

                                      what if im offended by mixed race couples, should we have a "miscengination" section?

                                      the sight of people eating innards really grosses me out, lets put them in the offal section

                                      gay people are an abomination in the sight of the lord should we put them in the sodomite section, or maybe just force them into their own restaurants

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: thew

                                        False analogies. Sensitivity to smell is a physical reality, and the presence of strong smells demonstrably affects one's ability to taste and appreciate the flavors and aromas of food and drink. Every other example you give is a matter of opinion, not something grounded in the physical world. The only one that even gets close is offal - and even then, you can avert your eyes or move to the other side of the table so as not to see it. You can't avert your nose.

                                        I may be grossed out by people with bad manners in a restaurant, but I can ignore them. I can't ignore a smell.

                                        1. re: BobB

                                          I don't think it's just a matter of appreciating flavors. For many (like me), cologne/perfume can trigger asthma attacks, headaches, or a variety of other unpleasant reactions like a runny nose. Even in cases when I can move away from the smell, sometimes it's just too late because the damage has been done.

                                          1. re: queencru

                                            Me too! I thik that it's the chemicals that create the artificical scents that completely close my sinuses. In a bad case, I get a brain freeze - can't clear it easily. A woman who used to work with us for years wore her heavy perfume in great quantity. She came from a war torn country and wore it to surround herself in a bubble so that she would not smell the soldiers with who she came into contact in her job. Not sure why she had to continue this in our country.

                                          2. re: BobB

                                            i agree that overly perfumed people are a problem in restaurants i don;t enjoy. i'm just not ready to segregate them to the back of the bus.

                                            1. re: thew

                                              Not directed at you Thew but it goes in the same lines.

                                              If people are so accepting of smells in restaurants why the vitriol on cell phone users.

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                i agree w/ you 100% .

                                          3. re: thew

                                            Those were absurd analogies.

                                            1. re: Caralien

                                              Amen. To draw a comparison between a circumstance of birth (e.g. being gay) and a choice completely unrelated to any sort of necessity in one's life (e.g. dabbing on some eau de whatever) is ludicrous.

                                          4. Glad that you could move. We moved once for the same reason. Some people will say that they didn't put anything on - and they didn't - the smell is from their clothes which have the smell lingering on the fabric, or hair or lotion products with scents. I have an allergic reaction to perfumes/scents. At least here in southern California, using scents is pretty much "out " among the folks that I know. (Happy Anniversary!)

                                            1. This can be awful. I work as a server in a nice place and recently there was a woman seated in the section next to mine that reeked to the high heavens. Apparently, it was some kind of fragrant oil she slathered on herself. Fortunately, I wasn't their server because I couldn't go anywhere near the table. I had to take the long way from the kitchen to my tables just to avoid her. I was trying to tell my table the specials and I could feel my throat closing. I had to fish my Epi-pen out of my bag just in case it got worse. It took about 30 minutes after the woman left for her smell to go with her.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Azizeh

                                                I work in a wine store and I cannot tell you how many people come in stinking to high heaven! They come to attend a wine tasting and we all end up "tasting" them, awful...absolutely awful. We have one woman that wears, Shalamar, (not sure I spelled that right) and a ton of it, she has probably been wearing it so long that she has to pile it on to smell it any more, well she needs only be there for about 5 minutes before my nose gets all wiggy and I have to leave.....sadly her stink stays long after she has gone. I am close to asking her, (away from everyone mind you) if she could refrain from wearing it as it truly makes me sick to my stomach.

                                                1. re: bubbles4me

                                                  In my allergist's office there is a sign that says "No perfume, please. Asthmatics and those with allergies are sensitive."
                                                  Can you put a sign up that says something about scent being important to the wine tasting process and ask people not to wear fragrance? I'm sure it wont always work, since some people may be out and about and just stop in, but at least that way if someone comes in who is just too smelly to handle, you have the sign up and if you need to ask them to leave, they wont be as offended (hopefully.)

                                                  1. re: bubbles4me

                                                    Bubble, I am a Shalimar wearer from way back (grandmother always had a BIG bottle on her dressing table, and when I merited it, I was allowed a teeny dab behind each of my 6-year-old ears) but learned at that early age a little goes a LONG way. I am most sensitive to other's olfactory issues, so to this day, I always wear ONLY a teeny dab .... no one has ever complained, even my dear (late) husband, who once told me early in our courtship that perfume "made his nose angry". Indeed, when I smell too much on anyone, I do wonder what it might be covering up!

                                                2. If it were socially acceptable, I would hand deliver one of these [see below] to the guilty stink bomb and thank him or her for ruining my dining experience, but, I know better to avoid ANY confrontations with pungent people because a fight could erupt where there might be skin to skin contact and then the odor is affixed to you and you're done. ... .... One MUST avoid that.

                                                  Ripe --> http://www.teach-nology.com/worksheet...

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                    wait...you could just ask, "hey there! did you attend 'p.u.'?" ;-).
                                                    <uh, and then "duck"!>

                                                    or start talking to your own dinner partner about quotes from "pepe le pew," like
                                                    <while pepe was swimming with no oxygen tank> "When you are a skunk, you learn how to hold your breath for a long time."
                                                    http://forum.bcdb.com/forum/Pepe_Le_P...

                                                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                      The smell of skunk is preferable to the smell of certain people, naturally or artificially perfumed.

                                                    2. I once read this little gem, and have passed it on to my sons; as it's true for cologne as well.

                                                      "Perfume should be discovered, not announced"

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                        Brilliant!

                                                        1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                          PERFECT! I love a nice scent, but if I can smell cologne before my nose is close to you, its WAY too much.

                                                        2. At times it bothers me but I live with. I mean it is a lot better than the altenative...somebody who reeks of B.O.

                                                          Now when it comes to wailing kids...Mom/Dad should step with said wailer from table until baby has calmed down.

                                                          And to the guy who blows,(especially the ones that sound like a foghorn),his nose should excuse himself, walk away and do so.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: sd4life

                                                            I agree with your points.

                                                            On #1, it should not be an either/or. Even dining outside the major metropolitan areas of the US, and some definite third-world countries, I guess that I have been fortunate. In most instances, it has been neither. The "over done" perfume has almost always been a US phenomenon for us.

                                                            On point #2, we've seldom encountered this in any restaurants, and usually only on airplanes. On a recent flight from SFO to LHR, we were in FC. It had been a tough several days, and we were on both a short fuse, plus we were strung out from being "on the road," or the "air," as the case was. My wife had some major meetings, upon our landing. There was a family, with three children. Dad was in FC, and mom and the kids were in either BC, or coach. About 30 mins. out of SFO, the kids came up with dad and ran completely amok. They were running and screaming. It did not take me long, before I pointed out the problems to the cabin crew. They quickly and efficiently handled the situation and we were able to doze off. Before, even with our noise-canceling headphones, this was just not possible.

                                                            This bothers me too. Any lady, or gentleman, should retire to the approptiate "powder room," and handle this in private. Though allergy-season can make this tough, that is part of the weight that all ladies and gentlemen must bear. Sometimes it is not easy, and often it is not convenient, but it must be done, none the less.

                                                            Good comments,

                                                            Hunt

                                                          2. Sorry your anniversary dinner experience wasn't quite a perfect night.

                                                            IMHO if one applies perfume/cologne it should only be noticeable to your significant other in -close- proximity... not across the table or across a room.