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Have you ever asked to be moved to the bar partway through lunch?

I went to one of my favorite chain restaurants for lunch today. Usually on Sunday it's dead in the dining room so I can sit at a booth and read, but today it was really really busy, because people wanted to watch soccer on the tv screens. I told the host I was by myself and asked if it was ok to sit in the dining room and he said it was and they put me in a booth for two. (I didn't realize right away just how busy it was; I didn't realize until I was seated and had ordered my food).

I noticed while I was eating there were people at the front waiting for tables. My waiter was really nice and wasn't trying to rush me (he even asked if I wanted a drink refill) but I felt bad about taking up a booth for two so I ate as fast as I could and I also tipped him really well (I gave him what I estimated he typically would get from two people at lunchtime). I felt funny reading my book when it was that busy so I didn't take my book out.

I was thinking later I didn't enjoy lunch as much this time, that I had felt the need to rush to finish. Maybe I should have asked to be transferred to the bar area? I could perhaps have had a more leisurely lunch and not suffered from guilty feelings about taking up a table for two. On the other hand that could lead to logistical problems, eg., how do you then tip the original waiter? (I know maybe I should have thought to sit at the bar right from the beginning, but the host did say it would be ok to sit in the dining room).

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  1. From your post the only issues are from your perception. Only you made yourself feel "guilty" Any resultant issues were of your issues, if you had acted upon them. Why look for issues? Aren't there enough otherwise, in every day world?

    1 Reply
    1. No. (to the title Q)

      I'm sure there were 4-tops with only 3 people, etc. so occupying a 2-top by yourself was and is fine. At least you learned from this experience that if you see a dining room fairly busy, and you prefer to dine leisurely, to sit at the bar.

      1. No, I haven't and of course you could have. It's your lunch, your money, you should be as comfortable as humanly possible.

        On the tip -- just seek out the original waiter and hand him the tip. Otherwise, add it to your credit card bill.

        1. To answer the OP's question - no, I've never asked to be moved partway through a meal nor would it ever occur to me to ask to do so for any reason. I would work to the assumption that if the place was not happy for me to be sitting there, then they would not have seated me there.

          FWIW, I had dinner on my own some weeks ago. I'd made the reservation and was glad I had, as it was busy (only two or three tables vacant). They had a couple of two tops "in the back room" but cleared a four top for me "in front" - when I asked if they were sure, they said "Yes, you booked".

          1. Single diners should never feel like lepers. I usually dine alone at lunch and I would be mortified if asked to move.

            1. In most restaurants/pubs/bars it's totally fine to move, people unapologetically do it all the time for various reasons and as a server it's not usually a problem. But if you're concerned,keep in mind the following 'moving etiquette':
              It's easier if you move either before your food arrives/between courses or after you're done eating- moving a diners with half eaten plates is always an awkward dance, so unless it's something pressing (i.e. you can't take another second of the neighboring tables smell/screaming baby/ making out, or you simply must join your friends now) leisurely enjoy whatever food is in front of you, then move.
              Be upfront about what you had/finished prior to moving to your new spot- it's usually not too hard to move an order but sometimes things get lost in the shuffle, if you see something missing from your bill speak up and don't make your original server chase you down as you're leaving to make you pay for that appetizer.
              If you're making multiple moves (say in a bar) pay as you go.
              If you're worried about the tip, either leave cash for the original server, pay for what you had before the move, or if paying one bill by card ask the second server/bartender to split it with the first.

              But really, if you find yourself in this position again don't worry about it, go ahead and move if it makes you more comfortable, but otherwise take out your book and take your time. One person at a two top is completely acceptable, Sunday afternoon at a restaurant shouldn't be something you rush through, and from the tone of your post (and your double tip) any server would be more than happy to have you in their section as a lone diner.

              1. You are overanalyzing, overly sensitive and read CH way too often. 99.9% of the people would never even think of such. :-))

                Tonight jfood ate solo at a restaurant and they only had 4-tops outside and open seating. jfood took one. He noticed that there were three other solo diners at other 4-tops. Dollars to donuts jfood was the only one of them that did the same analysis as you described. He learned from them as they read books, spoke on their cell phones and enjoyed their dinners. jfood did likewise.

                1. I tend to overanalyze situations as well so I completely understand your point of view. However, you are paying the restaurant for a service. No one told you to move. You did yourself a disservice by rushing and thereby not fully enjoying your meal. Something to consider: Would you be willing to wait while a solo diner enjoys their meal at the same restaurant? Would you whine and complain to the waitstaff to kick the customer to the bar? Personally, I have no problems waiting for a table if I really want to eat in a particular restaurant. I expect the same common courtesy of my fellow diners. If they don't possess the virtue of patience, that is not my problem. (Granted that I am not deliberately taking longer than usual for myself).

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: NicoleFriedman

                    Not to worry, john333. You are a faaar better person for being concerned than those out there who think it fine to speak loudly on their cellphones during dinner or otherwise disregard or look down upon their fellow human beings.

                    I commend you.

                    1. re: anonymouse1935

                      Me too. I think it's thoughtful and considerate.
                      That said, I see nothing wrong with you asking to be moved in a situation like that, provided you tip the server whose station you ordered in. But I bet you would anyway.

                      1. re: Whosyerkitty

                        anonymouse1935 and Whosyerkitty, thanks for your kind remarks!

                  2. I wish there were more people like you.

                    I dine alone a lot When I see a restaurant is busy, and I am seated at a table for two or four, I'll inform the waiter that I'd be happy to move ... usually it is from a four top to a two top.

                    I actually can't remember a time when a waiter took me up on it, but they always thank me.

                    I've often also ordered to share a table with anyone waiting and that has happened a few times.

                    I dined with three other people a few weeks back at a small bakery that had sandwiches. We shared a two top that had a banquette attached. A foot away was a woman spread out with her cappucino and lap top at a four top table. It would have taken her no effort to offer to exchange tables with us and she still would have had ample room.

                    If I'm at a bar and there are two empty seats on either side of me ... if I see a couple walk in, I'll offer to move over one seat.

                    I see nothing wrong with trying to be considerate of other people.

                    I guess I have to ask ... if you are one of the people standing in line, wouldn't you really appreciate it if someone offered up a table?

                    What's bad about that? Wouldn't it make the world a better place?

                    I guess I've been treated badly for so many years by self-absorbed people that I treat people like I'd like to be treated. I took care of a mom in a wheel chair and it was amazing how people just don't give a damn. My favorite guy sprinted in front of me in a supermarket when I was wheeling her up to buy groceries. So maybe I am too sensitive too. I just want to make life pleasant for everyone around me. It doesn't cost a thing.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rworange

                      John333 and rw, I also wish that more people in the world thought like you. I personally would have done the same thing that John did. I would have ate quickly to get myself out of the way for other diners.

                    2. I have only been asked to move once, and that turned out to be by a prospective patron, and our table was not large enough for his party. Never returned, and that restaurant is now long gone, and mostly forgotten.

                      Now, i have offered to move many times, even at the UAL RCC, but that is a different story.

                      When we are seated, we expect to occupy that table, until we put the last fork down. Even in Europe, when we dine per US schedules, we tell the servers that we might be there all night, depending on the wine service. We have started at 6:39PM, and then have closed down many European restaurants, and never tarried a moment. Food, cheese and wine have been flowing our way for the entire evening. I would be apoplectic, if someone asked me to move.

                      Good luck,

                      Hunt