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"Saving" a Table by Throwing a Coat on a Chair at a Counter Service Restaurant

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The long-winded title should pretty much get the question across. There are a few lunch spots here in Boston at which some people throw a coat over a chair to "reserve" a table, while they wait in line to order their food. I have also seen others take said coats and deposit them on the floor or elsewhere in order to "unsave" the table. I have further observed (on rare occasions) fisticuffs almost resorted to to settle the question of title to the seating.

I feel it's wrong, and it should be a first come, first seated system. I plan to "Ask the Imam" at some point, but was curious what others thought of the propriety of this reservation method.

    1. Just to be a devil's advocate (I don't eat at such places enough to have a real opinion one way or the other) how is it different than using a spouse/child/friend to hold the table while you order for the "table-holder"? In either case a table is being held for a time during which no food consumption is occurring. And if using a coat is wrong, are you ready to tell people not to use their human companions as "holders"?

      1. The resto has chosen not to control the seating. They have intentionally set a potentially unfair and potentially chaotic "every man for himself" seating policy. The coat over seat diners and the ones that remove the coats to snag the table for themselves, are simply following that policy. The resto has a right to do that, just as you have a right to eat somewhere else.
        It may be unfair but that's the way it is, kinda like life.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ilikefood

          Of course not dealing with the place is always a choice, but I'm looking to see what the opinions of chowhounders are given that the place is worth eating at, and that this is the (lack of) policy of the restaurant. Is it OK to stick your jacket (or loved one) at a table, or is that unfair "saving?"

          1. re: nsenada

            Whether fair or unfair, I'm not sure. It's certainly impolite IMO and not something I'd do.

        2. Its definitely not nice.

          That said, restaurant has given diners the responsiblity to fend for themselves. Survival of the fittest, do what you have to, anything goes.

          1. The original comment has been removed