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If I am at a bar and go to the restroom, I put my napkin on my drink to show that the drink, and the seat, are reserved. But this doesn't seem to work very often here in SC, as I often find someone there when I return. Twice I have returned to actually find my drink gone, even though there was a napkin firmly set on it, and people in my seat. Is it not right to save your seat at a bar? For instance, yesterday, I had a great seat at a bar in front of a TV to watch the baseball game and went to the bathroom, and put my napkin on the drink to reserve it. I then went outside for a quick cigarette. When I returned a girl was in my seat. I said politely "You're in my seat" She said "So?...You snooze you lose." Should I have relinquished it or stood my ground? Is it not right to reserve your seat or must you give it up if you go to the restroom or have a cigarette?

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  1. I would suggest you simply tell the bartender next time.....this way your drink will not be removed....or if anyone tries to claim the seat, the bartender can set things straight.

    1. These days manners and propriety are just out-the-window. Sadly, at places that're strictly "bars," you're at the mercy of the bartender. Some will guide people who're after your seat to another one, but some just don't care. At bars in restaurants, for some reason, once you've staked your claim to a seat it remains yours until you cash out.

      The one thing you can do if you're spending some time at a bar and are concerned about losing your seat is to a) tip your bartender well, and b) let the bartender know "I'm going out for a cigarette, could you watch my seat?"

      Finally, regarding your particular instance, it's *never* a good idea when there's booze flowing to become confrontational about things, particularly a bar seat. Interact with the bartender or manager and they'll either help you out -- or not -- in which case you can choose not to patronize that place again.

      1 Reply
      1. re: shaogo

        Your last paragraph? Best advice ever.

      2. If the bartender seems busy, I often turn to the person next to me and ask him or her to save my seat. The snooze/lose girl was being an asshole, and next time maybe just tip her off the stool and see how she likes that. Then run, run like the wind.

        3 Replies
        1. re: small h

          Someone tipped me off a stool once many years ago, only they didn't run afterwards and suffered the consequences. :-)

          1. re: lynnlato

            Hah! Nothing is hypothetical, I guess. I hope the consequences were dire - but only if you weren't a seat-stealer in the first place! (I'm sure you were not.)

            1. re: small h

              I hate to admit but I was a seat-stealer in that moment. I was 21 and I disliked the girl whose seat I took. She yanked it out from beneath me and I whacked her up side the head as I came back up. Not my proudest moment but it makes for a good story. :)

        2. Smile and leave her with the tab! It's happened to me, can't even take a pee, if you take my seat you own my bill. Now, I tell the bartender that I'm going for a bio break and will be back.

          1. When I'm in a bar, I usually run a tab. Bartenders who haven't gotten their tip yet tend to be a little more protective. That said, I wouldn't rely on the napkin-on-the-glass trick; a quick "be right back" is clearer.

            Now if this is a bar that's slammed, with people stacked up three deep trying to get drinks, it might be another matter entirely. I don't really know how etiquette works in such places, since I avoid them like the plague.

            1 Reply
            1. re: alanbarnes

              spot on advice. If they haven't gotten paid you can be sure you will get more attention

            2. If I'm working behind the bar and it's slammed, if someone takes a seat for a patron out for a smoke or in the bathroom I'll let them have it while I get their drink. If they start to camp, I move them along. Important note is that I know whoever was there will be back.

              1. Interesting...I am not in bars much but when I am out with my little boy with out my hubby and we have to go the restroom I just tell the server... that said...if all the seats in the bar are taken and a lady comes in your seat should be offered anyway. I would think living in the South that is a given.

                17 Replies
                1. re: LaLa

                  "if all the seats in the bar are taken and a lady comes in your seat should be offered anyway."

                  I agree but I don't recall a lady looking for a seat in the OP.

                  1. re: lucygoosey

                    Yeah but if a lady is sitting in "his seat" and if others are opened why doesnt he sit elsewhere? If all the seats are taken then he should let her have it anyway. I find him questioning ruder that her taking a seat at the bar.

                    1. re: LaLa

                      What does the sex of the seat taker matter?

                        1. re: nofunlatte

                          This poster is from the South and must be in her, er, um 'golden' years.

                          1. re: chow_gal

                            She has a 5 y.o. and calls California "Cali" so no. *I'M* in MY golden (or sterling silver perhaps) years and I have NO such attitudes!!!

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Excellent! I hear ya! Don't come betwen me and my comfortable bar seat!

                            2. re: chow_gal

                              Not quite...just know manners....

                              1. re: LaLa

                                Women's reproductive organs have nothing to do with possession of a bar stool. Think about it. I'm 62 y.o., grew up in the south and left FAR behind those silly role-playing things.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Thats fine is that is the way you feel...I just do not agree.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    As a mid-forties southern female, I'm with you. I don't expect to have a seat surrendered to me because I'm female. It's a gender, not a disability.

                              2. re: LaLa

                                Sorry, I think you misunderstood what I meant. I didn't recall a "lady" in the OP. I always thought a "lady" had enough manners to know you don't steal someone's seat and then say something rude about it upon their return.

                                If a lady walks into a bar and gets offered a seat, that's something else entirely.

                                1. re: LaLa

                                  The OP said he had a great seat with a view of the TV to watch a game. Why should he move? I'd be pissed too, male or female seat taker.

                                  1. re: LaLa

                                    Not only should the man have the seat, she should also buy the beer...and drive...and dab his face if there is food on it. That's right.

                                2. re: LaLa

                                  That might have been true in the 50s, but given that we are trying to move toward gender equality, I don't see how this would hold true any longer. Can't demand equal treatment if you're going to request special treatment in other situations.

                                3. i think this is outrageous! and i'm sorry it has happened to you. i'm from la - and the napkin on the drink is respected here. i've never had a problem and neither have people i know. so much for southern hospitality, i guess? and to top it off - the seat stealer is rude? that's just gross. i agree with the poster that said you should leave them with the check. serves them and the bartender right.

                                  i think you should take a multi-prong approach: tell the bartender you'll be back. additionally (or if that doesn't work), tell the person/people you're sitting next to that you're going to be back and ask if they can please help you save the seat. cover the drink with the napkin and (maybe) leave a newspaper next to it. if that doesn't work - i don't know what will. i guess you'll just have to meet more jerks.

                                  oooh - just saw the multi-prong approach was suggested. sorry for the repeat.

                                  1. This of course is an issue only when there are fewer seats than people who want them. IMO, a quick pee and you get your seat back. Go outdoors to smoke (what is a quick cigarette?) and, to use your word, you have assuredly relinquished your seat. And you may or may not get it back when you return.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      I completely disagree that going out to have a cigarette is considered relinquishing your seat. At times, waiting in line for the bathroom in a bar can take longer than having a cigarette outside!

                                      Asking the bartender and/or the person seated next to you and telling them you'll be right back usually works. When I eat dinner at a bar, I also put my napkin on the seat, but making sure that your neighbors and the bartender know you'll be back (especially if there's a unfinished drink in front of you) usually takes care of the vultures waiting for a seat.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        I suppose the reason for a stool sitter's absence shouldn't matter, but somehow I have more empathy for a woman who has to wait while nature calls, than for anyone outside smoking or having a long cell phone argument. Some have mastered the multi-tasking achievement of puffing away and screaming on the phone in a smooth alternating rhythm outside; we have all witnessed it.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          While I'm an ex-smoker (30 years this year), and while I really appreciate the empathy towards women who have to wait for a longer period of time at the ladies room, I don't begrudge those that are still addicted to smoking. That is their issue, not mine. Don't much appreciate it when the smoker sits back down next to me at the bar, but hey - it's better than just a few years ago when they *smoked* next to you in the bar, right? (And being best friends with a former smoker/sometimes-smoker now, I used to sit in the bar with said friend so she and other friends of ours could smoke, so I still woke up in the morning smelling smoke in my hair and on the clothes I had dropped into the laundry basket or on the floor when I got home).

                                          The cell phone screamer? Yeah, not so much a fan of theirs, but again, their chair is their chair. They got there earlier than I did, and while I might not like it as I stand behind their empty chair, it's their chair until they officially leave.

                                      1. re: LaLa

                                        I can't believe people use that. That's gross. It's bottom sits on the bar and then on your glass. You may as well start licking the bar counter...

                                      2. walking into a bar and sitting in front of a drink with a coaster/napkin on top of it is akin to cutting in line! In other words, not acceptable behavior. That being said, I have had that happen to me plenty(mostly in busy bars where butt real estate is at a premium) and usually a "hey I was sitting there" gets the job done. Sometimes if I assess the situation as needing a more straight forward, sterner approach I will just make eye contact and point at my drink.....sometimes less(no) words is the best approach. It might also help that I am 6'2"....

                                        16 Replies
                                        1. re: nkeane

                                          How about the clods who will lean over you at the bar to halfway extinguish a cigarette in an ashtray near you, or abandon an empty glass practically in front of you?

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            That's just part of your bar real estate, IMO. What are they supposed to do with their finished cigarette - put it out on the floor?

                                            Pass the empty glass forward to the bartender, and if you're still living in a state where smoking is allowed in bars, go eat in the restaurant where smoking isn't allowed if you don't want to deal with it. Again - I'm saying that as a 30-year ex-smoker.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              As you said, it's part of MY bar real estate. I don't want smouldering cigarette filters thrust haphazardly from an imperfect stranger, pluming into my face. I don't give a flying f**k what they do with their finished cigarette, so long as it is not making me gag. Maybe they should swallow them. Nor am I a bus boy for empty glasses. I understand the mentality and ambient conduct in the average sports bar filled with below average IQ's and social skills, and I manage myself accordingly. In nicer environments, these infractions happen less often. I enjoy a bit of both, and teach a few people some manners along the way. Cheers.

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                Veggo, if you choose to patronize the bar, you make the *conscious choice* to deal with those who, by law, are allowed to smoke around you and perhaps put their cigarettes out in local-to-them ashtrays. That's all I'm saying. If you don't like it, have the bartenders move the ashtrays away from your area. And if they (the bartenders) don't do so, that's just something you have to deal with.

                                                And seriously - the fact that you associate "below average IQs and social skills" with those people who might inhabit a sports bar is extremely unfair. I've inhabited a sports bar in my time, and I do believe I'm above average in my IQ and social skills, as are many of those here on CH who have done the same as I have. Not everyone who goes to sports bars are neanderthals, as you are obviously implying.

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Hey, Linda, my presence there is what's draggin' the scores down...

                                            2. re: Veggo

                                              If the bar is crowded, where the heck else are they supposed to put the empties? Maybe they could just smash them on the ground in order to not crowd your personal space?

                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                  There is always a server station at bars that the clods are too lazy and impolite to walk to with an empty glass or smouldering butt.

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Always? I frequent many bars w/o servers and thus no server station. Try agani

                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                      If a bar has no servers, does that mean they have no tables? I admit I'm a dinosaur :)

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        There are plenty of bars where there are only bartenders and you order and get your drink at the bar and carry the drink back to your table. In fact, there are more bars with this system then not in NYC, at least in my experience. BTW, you are the most youthful dinosaur I've ever met ; )

                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                          Well, bless your heart :) So when, not if, you want another drink, you go back to the bar? Wow, the times they are a changin'. And, BTW, for all up and down thread, I'm so old I still remember the term "feminist" and I AM one. As someone here said, you can't have it both ways. Argh.
                                                          PS: The "bright spot" was bobo do camarao.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            Yup, when you need a new drink you go back to the bar. You can generally leave the glasses at the table, there will usually be a bar-back that collects the glasses or the bartender will do it at a slow moment.

                                                            There are certainly bars with table service but more in higher end bars and places that serve food.

                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                              Next time we're in NYC, let's go there and YOU can serve us drinks, okay???

                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                          Yeah, what KT said. :) Sometimes it's literally just a room w/ a bar, but a lot of places will also have tables set up. It's just a way to keep their costs down by not needing as many folks. Honestly, it seems like most of the time when I'm at a bar with servers that it'd be faster to bypass the server and just go up to the bar, but that tends to annoy the staff.

                                                          Usually if they have food though, they'll have servers - but even that's not always the case. There are bars around here where the bartender will just shout at you when you're food is ready and you go up and get it (and/or they'll bring it out to you).

                                              1. Hey it's a doggy dog world out there. Next time wear depends and keep on drinking.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                  I think you mean a dog-eat-dog world?

                                                  I've never heard of or seen the napkin on the bar trick. I usually ask the bartender if anyone is sitting there if there is a drink there. Now, if the bartender removed the drink, that's their fault as it looks like the seat is up for grabs.

                                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                                    If I have reading material, even if not reading it, I'll leave that neatly folded.

                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                      Heh. That's a sure sign someone doesn't read much.

                                                  2. It has happened to me. Sadly, bar etiquette is poor among most folks. When I return to my seat, if my drink is still there with the napkin on top, I'll point out that it is my drink and my seat. Most people respect it and relinquish the seat. If they don't, they are jerks and I'm not going to push the issue, but I will inform them that they are rude a-holes.

                                                    1. The bar was most definitely rather crowded at the time, and the girl was quite good looking and also quite intoxicated and no doubt used to having her way, but I was there to watch the game, but most importantly I don't think it is right to just take someone's seat and say "So?" when they tell you you are in their seat, and I would never just give it up because she was hot. The sad thing is that people can be like that, can be so rude, I would not steal someone's seat, let alone be rude to them upon their return. I wasn't sure if I should have had a confrontation with her, but it didn't matter because her friend moved over and the girl grudgingly gave up the chair.

                                                      1. If your drink is gone then it's the staff fault and not that of the person sitting in the seat. Any bartender or bar back that takes an unfinished drink is not doing their job properly. Even if you don't know for a fact someone is sitting in a seat the napkin on the drink is a sure sign that the drink hasn't been abandoned. Even if there is no napkin you leave the unattended drink for a reasonable time unless you are pretty certain the drink has been left, signs of this is melted ice or a warm beer. If you even had 1/3 of a drink left you should have addressed the bartender and gotten a new drink gratis. At least that's what would happen at any bar I've ever worked.

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                          My favorite dive bar in Brooklyn has little "reserved" signs the barkeep is happy to put out for you at your stool when you vacate for whatever. A nice touch. This eliminates any seat stealing issues.

                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                            A nice touch in a dive bar? What a concept!

                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                Yeah, to me too, hotoynoodle. Death to faux dives and the frat boys (and girls) who enjoy the slum.

                                                                1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                  Not slumming, no frat, I'm a real dive rat. This place just has a sense of fair play.

                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                    Not that I feel the need to prove myself a dive rat but:
                                                                    (a little off post) favorite dive bar story.
                                                                    Eastern Ct, circa early 80's.
                                                                    Name: B & E Grill (we called it the Breaking and Entering Grill)
                                                                    Ambiance: Overhead fluorescent lights. Daytime at midnight.
                                                                    Service: Surly, we interrupted her TV.
                                                                    Offerings: Bud and Miller bottle, Bud on tap. Take it or leave it.
                                                                    Price: .50 for 8 oz. glass, Bud tap
                                                                    Entertainment: Broken juke.
                                                                    Facilities: Porta-a-potty out back.
                                                                    Security: Beagle asleep in corner.
                                                                    Scary thing: Electrical wiring everywhere, not up to code.
                                                                    Seating issues: Not a one, no one else there, besides shot gun on wall would have proved the point.
                                                                    We went back as often as we could.

                                                                    A true story.

                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                        I assume you mean in Brooklyn, I'm sure the one in Ct was bulldozed many years ago.
                                                                        I'm almost afraid to give it up but here goes:
                                                                        Montero's, Atlantic and Hicks, down by the harbor.

                                                                        Be gentle now...

                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                          Montero's is one of my favorites, a really great bar; sadly I don't live closeby or I'd be proud to be a regular. Little signs do sound precious and unlike Montero's so I take it all back, though I do always wince at the term "dive bar."

                                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                            I really like the sound of this place from the Yelp descriptions. I may have to check it out.

                                                            1. I'm obviously in the minority, but I've never heard of the napkin on glass rule. And I wouldn't recognize a napkin that was "firmly" set on it as opposed to whatever the opposite is.

                                                              But I've also never had the barkeep let me walk away without knowing where I'm bound, either.

                                                              I was at a club once where the staff told us that the management required them to clear drinks from empty chairs - it was to make you buy a new one.

                                                              1. I've never spent a lot of time in bars, but I would assume that any seat that I left long enough for a smoke would be gone upon my return, and I would certainly never drink something that I'd left sitting out for any pervert to doctor.

                                                                1. Just have someone watch the seat

                                                                  1. I've been to plenty of bars in my time and don't know about putting the napkin on the drink. If want to save my seat briefly, I'll use another technique: let the bartender know I'll be right back (especially if I'm running a tab), ask the person next to me to hold the seat, or tip the stool up if it can be done.

                                                                    What you're dealing with in "you snooze, you loose" girl is just plain selfish and rudeness which is epidemic in our society. I've found that generally in these situations whether it's dealing with traffic, a line at a restaurant or a movie theater, or a bar seat, it's best to just take the high road and leave or find another seat rather than to join in the childish fray.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: taos

                                                                      I don't know...I don't like people pushing me around. Then of course one time my father objected to someone talking in a movie theater and it turned out the guy had a criminal record and beat the crap out of my father. It's a tough call...I guess becoming a martial arts master could minimize such problems.

                                                                    2. I eat alone at the bar a lot when I am traveling for work. I always make sure I have ordered food before excusing myself to the rest room. I also make sure to tell the bartender that I will be right back, and ask for a new drink/refill on water, whatever it is, as I step away. I haven't had a problem, even in a crowded bar area. The couple times I've come back and there is someone in my seat, the bartender shoos him away for me.

                                                                      Now you have me worrying about it a little bit. But really, if I have food coming, the bartender is usually on alert for any one taking my seat.