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Aug 25, 2009 06:03 AM

Air conditioning in the restaurant.

What *is* it with some people and air conditioning in restaurants? I understand that some are prone to getting cold (they should keep a cardigan in the car) but for goodness sake, what about the comfort of *other* diners.

It was a terribly hot July, last year, and I'd not been into the rear dining room of our restaurant for about an hour and a half. I walked in to see how everyone was doing, and what they were doing was sweating!

Now, I'm fat, so I become uncomfortably hot rather quickly. I asked a table of six if they were comfortable and they were glad I asked -- they were indeed sweating. I apologized, and asked if they'd like to change to a table in the larger, main dining room. I told them that there must be something wrong with the air conditioning unit in the dining room they were in -- and that's what I believed (I'd set the entire restaurant's generous compliment of air conditioning on 70 degrees that morning).

To my shock and amazement, the customers pointed to another table and said, "nope. there's nothing wrong with your air conditioning. The lady over there got up and turned it off."

When I went to look at the thermostat, indeed, it'd been messed with. In fact, the "heat" setting switch had been turned *on.* Now, in summer, the heat doesn't come on when the a/c units are powered up, but I was astounded that someone had actually put their hands *on my property.*

I set the unit back on, with the fan on "high" so the room would cool down. No sooner did I leave the room than the lady got *back up* and turned it off again (one of my servers told me about this).

When confronted about the second time she turned the a/c off, the customer blew up and started screaming (something I certainly wasn't ready for). She later placed a horrible, false story on CitySearch about our restaurant and how "roughly" she was treated. Her complaint? Her mother was cold. They didn't say anything to me nor the servers.

Now, this story is a "worst-case" scenario. However, I find it insulting when 80% of my diners are comfortable and yet one individual must complain about the air conditioning. We'll move people out of the way of vents/ducts, but heck, when it's 95 degrees out, and you "lose your cool," it's hard for the system to recover.

Do chowhounds have something to say about too cool/too hot in restaurants? And what're your favorite anecdotes.

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  1. I can't imagine taking it upon myself to turn up or down an AC/heating unit in a restaurant. I might ask the server for assistance IF there truly would be something that could be done about temperature but I'd be more likely to ask for a cold beverage or a hot cup of tea to bring my body temp to a comfortable level.

    What you describe above shaogo is just crazy nonsense and entitlement at its worst.

    1. Definitely, one should carry a wrap. I would rather put on a sweater, than have the AC turned down. However, if it's blowing so mightily that the food is being cooled off, I always ask the server - politely - to please turn it down.

      My favorite story is unfortunately at the expense of my sister - in - law. She starts out ALWAYS wearing a cardigan in a restaurant, shivering away, while the rest of us are quite comfortable. After she has a little wine and some dinner, her hot flashes kick in, and she is peeling off the sweater, and turning bright red and sweating. More than once, to her embarassment, the server reacts in an alarmed fashion! I'm much more sympathetic than her children, who can actually time when her hot flash will kick in!

      1. Three steps into a joint and it's hot(that includes too much heat in the winter) I'm out of there, don't care how good the food is.

        1. I am always cold in restaurants. Occasionally depending on where we are going to be eating if I am freezing when walking in and we are taken to a table that does have draft I have apologized and asked if we could be moved to another table if one is available. i only mention the temperature to the server is asked or if I see a lot of people shivering also.

          The one time that my husband was cold in a restaurant we actually asked if the temperature could be turned up a bit. he is NEVER cold and always looks at my like I am nuts though he has gotten used to it.

          I do however keep a blanket in the car for both movies and my legs in a restaurant if necessary.

          The place that about kills me though 9and most people see to feel the same way) is cruise ships. We are fans of cruising, but they are definitely a cold woman's worst nightmare!!!

          Shaogo, it must be the same in a lot of restaurants though. I have seen many establishments with clear plastic but locked boxes over the temperature units to prevent people from touching them. You may wish to consider one after this. I have also seen signs asking people to "not touch please." At the very least you may want to consider placing a sign that instructs people to ask their server for help if they are uncomfortable.

          Shaogo, I would have actually considered asking the woman to leave it if was my establishment! if she couldn't keep her hands to herself and let someone know there was a problem then it is a liability for you. If touching the temperature wasn't an issue for her then who knows what else she touched that day! NO ONE, absolutely no one has any business in any business establishment aside from a hotel room of touching.anything.

          It's sad, but you unfortunately need to treat some small groups of people out there exactly like the crazy warning signs on products!

          5 Replies
          1. re: Allice98

            Alice, I feel for you. I'm always cold -- in the wintertime. And it's hard to try to enjoy what one's doing (having a meal, shopping) when icy-cold.

            1. re: shaogo

              It's not really a big deal over all. I am rather used to it to be honest. Well, except the cruise ships. Brr!!

              Over all though I could never in my life imagine just going over and changing something that I didn't like is a restaurant myself just like if I were in someones home - except the toilet paper rolls that aren't rolling out in the right direction in peoples homes. It's the one thing I just can't keep my hands off of and have to change it! I just CAN'T control myself.

              1. re: Allice98

                just don't do that in a home where people have cats... its too long to explain, and off topic, but google it, you will understand.

                a friend has a restaurant and for some reason the thermostat is in the warmest corner in the dining room. people are always messing with it. he finally got one of those plastic covers, and has only had to replace it once so far.

                1. re: Allice98

                  Oh.. I do this too. And I judge them if I have to do it. Srsly.

                  1. re: Allice98

                    Which way is the "right way" for you? It varies. Luckily, the gf & i have 2 bathrooms so we do one in each direction. ;)

              2. I'm always cold, even with a cardigan. My husband and I frequent a nice restaurant with delicious food and very attentive servers. I once mentioned to the server that it was a bit chilly. He quickly ran over to the other servers and asked them to ask their tables if the temp was ok for them. Several tables mentioned it was chilly, and they raised the temp a bit.

                The server mentioned that they rely on the customers to tell them if it's chilly, because they're running from the tables to the kitchen, and are usually warm.

                21 Replies
                1. re: cheesecake17

                  I realize this is a generalization, but in my experience people from Western Europe are not accustomed to air conditioning the way people in the U.S. expect it to be--they seem to prefer the clammy sensation of doesn't sound, however, as if the lady in question was a tourist...

                  1. re: penthouse pup

                    It varies even within the US. I know plenty of people from the upper Midwest who don't really care for AC at all because they don't need it that much where they're from. I'm from FL and we always want it to be 72 or so inside. However, we don't get why when it's cold out, it's always 80+ with the heat on (or so it seems).

                    1. re: penthouse pup

                      You betcha. While I am much more of a convert to a/c than I used to be, I still find the level of cold in restos (or, much worse, huge-ass stores like Lowe's, or Home Depot -- what a massive waste of energy) ridiculous.

                      Why people feel like restos need temps near refrigeration indoors during the summer is beyond me. But hey, I'm German.

                      What about setting the a/c to the reasonable temp of 73 or 74 -- just like you would your heat in the winter?

                      1. re: linguafood

                        Some of us don't set the heat to 73-74 in the winter ;) I usually have mine set to about 65, which happens to be the temp I often set things to in the summer. Heck, I start whining about "the heat" when it gets above 70 outside :)

                        1. re: jgg13

                          Ha. I must be one of them cold women, then. My husband thinks 73 is too warm. OTOH, any self-respecting German keeps the bedroom window open, even in the deepest winter. Which my man hates.

                          Ah, different cultures '-D

                          1. re: linguafood

                            Hah. I once had a roomate who was my exact opposite. She's not digging summer until it passes 90, she likes to keep things in the mid-70s at least inside. There were many times when I was in shorts & tshirt and she was all bundled up. Luckily, we were extremely close friends, otherwise we probably would have killed each other.

                            1. re: jgg13

                              I'm like your roomate. I am always running cold. If the a/c ihas to be on, I like it about 78 or 79, DH likes it much lower. I prefer hot weather over cold and take a jacket with me everywhere. Especially if I'm shopping, going to the movies, or eating out. Even if it's 90 out, most places have the a/c cranked up way to high for me. My oldest daughter on the other hand runs hot, she hates wearing a coat in the winter and her & DH have the worst disagreements about it, he doesn't understand people have different internal body temps.

                            2. re: linguafood

                              That explains why my Dad and I both do that. It really bugs my Mom, who's always cold, but luckily my SO of French heritage is perfectly fine with fresh air!

                              1. re: linguafood

                                You're so right! My German-born husband insists on having the bedroom window open no matter how cold it is outside. I guess I just never slept with an open window growing up. After 26 years I have to say that not only have I gotten used to it but I actually miss it when he's out of town. (I know its silly but when I'm home alone overnight I don't like having the window open.) There's just something about that cool (cold!) fresh air in the bedroom while you're all snuggly warm under the comforter. Aaahh...

                            3. re: linguafood

                              linguafood, while I don't care personally for air conditioning it is often set a a temperature that the servers find comfortable while running around. They can't stop to cool down for a bit like you could at home.

                              I try to grin and bear it for the servers sake.

                              1. re: Allice98

                                That's a good point, Allice. Hadn't thought of that.

                                My first encounter with a/c was in Florida in 97. It was a very pleasant 80˚ out, and we went to a Perkins (no comment) for lunch. I had been wearing shorts and a tank top, and the second we stepped inside, I thought I had just entered a freezer.

                                Then again, I get cold at Wegmans in the meat & fish aisle. Brrrrrrrr.

                                1. re: Allice98

                                  good point Allice98, and I can relate in a different environment, which is why I also sweater up unless everyone else seems to be freezing too. Until recently I was working in a training environment, and rooms that would be comfortable to the audience, could be mighty hot for those up on their feet in front of the AV equipment etc. Didn't stop people from complaining about how cold it was on super hot days though.

                                  1. re: Allice98

                                    Not too mention if it's a bit cool it discourages "camping". :)

                              2. re: cheesecake17

                                I'm always cold too. It's a miserable way to live. I bring sweaters and coats with me everywhere. i hate a/c. But unless I see other people shivering or hear people talking about how cold it is, I don't say anything because everyone else seems to enjoy their beautiful, hot summer by turning the a/c down to like 60 degrees. I don't get it.

                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                  Those are always the same people proclaiming how much they love summer and they look at me in disgust when i say summer is by far my least favorite season. I don't like hot weather at all. They then look at me in disgust again when I say that I happen to enjoy winter. "But it so cold then!" they proclaim!

                                  I don't get them, they don't get me. I love cold weather - just not air conditioning. The cold air from air conditioning feels far different to me and real cold weather.

                                  1. re: Allice98

                                    Florida summer is pretty miserable and in some parts lasts a good 5 to 6 months. I also lived in southern Japan and worked in a school with no AC and lived in an apartment with a bad AC. I joined a gym just so I could experience cooler weather. It was just so exhausting to be hot 24/7 with no real relief.

                                    I agree that the real cold is a different feel- like I can wear short sleeves in the high 60s on a sunny day and feel warm, but that temperature inside during the summer is pretty unpleasant.

                                    1. re: queencru

                                      I don't ever want to be in FLA in the summer. We were there late April / early May, so it was nice and pleasant, and not humid at all.

                                      Here in PA, the humidity drives me crazy, much more so than the heat. So I do appreciate the idea of a/c... just not the extremes to which it is taken.

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        I think part of the problem is that thermostats are often set in areas that tend to be cooler (away from windows). Often times you have to set them much lower in order to account for the sun beating in. I lived in one place where I had to set the thermostat at 70 just to keep the upstairs below 80 in the afternoon/evening. When you have one unit cooling a large area, often parts end up being very cold while others are slightly too warm.

                                    2. re: Allice98

                                      Allice, we should start a club. We have had a less than hot summer and I have been enjoying it. I have actually been able to sit out on my balcony and walk around the neighbourhood without wilting. When it turned hot, some people in my office were saying, finally, summer, while I was getting grumpy. Of course, those are the same people that look at me like I have two heads when I walk to work in the depths of winter (and enjoy it).

                                      That being said, I hate overly cold indoor spaces in the summer.

                                    3. re: rockandroller1

                                      I am with you, rockandroller1. I don't understand why after 6 months winter, people turn the a/c to the same temperature once it's getting a little bit warmer. I have, yet to enjoy summer here, in Toronto. It may never happen, though.

                                      If it's too cold in a restaurant, I leave.