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Mar 28, 2011 07:02 AM

Sharing a table?

Question for this board, I did not post in the General Topics Board because I was looking for the area's perspective (maybe it will be moved).

The question is sharing a table at a restaurant?

If you go to a restaurant that has a waiting list for tables, not reservations, or reservation only area, but an area with a first come first served list.

If there are empty spots in that particular area, is it a no-no to ask to share a table?
Is it a no-no because you irritate people waiting, that don’t have the sensibility to ask?
Is this considered queue jumping?

Thanks for the input.

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  1. it would never occur to me to ask if i could share a table with a stranger, although when i was a girl, my Mom took me to the Horn & Hardart Automat in NYC (in the late 1950's) and a strange man just sat down at our table and it made me very uncomfortable. it was an expected occurrence at automats, i'm not sure why; but i don't think i'd like it now, as an adult. i'd feel put on the spot, and not want to say no, but i probably wouldn't welcome small talk with a stranger, especially if i was on a date or wanted to chat privately with a friend.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Manderley

      Shared table seating was very common at popular price restaurants in midtown Manhattan during the lunch rush. There is just so much space, time and so many people to be fed. I had an office in the garment district during the 1980s and host/hostesses would constantly direct individual diners to open seats at tables that were not at capacity. Even if there was no employee seating patrons, it was not unusual for a patron to ask if the empty seat at your table was available.
      However, this did not lead to shared conersations in most cases. people had limited time and understood the need to eat and move on and let the restaurant turn the seats.

    2. l do it all the time if available, no worries. Has worked fine, generally l scare the other people away as taken up on sharing less than l ask for it.

      1. I think it depends on the restaurant and the seating arrangement. I often eat solo at Chinese places where I'm seated at a big round table with people I don't know. But if I were at the same restaurant, dining with a friend at a four-top, I'd think it was pretty weird if a single person joined us. Are we supposed to talk to this person? Will s/he feel excluded if we don't?

        1. I hate it when people ask to share my table. If it's a bar, or family-style seating, then by all means, sit next to me. I'm in that kind of mood or I wouldn't be there. But if not, then no. What am I supposed to say, interview them first? "Probably, but are you going to smack while you eat, try to talk to me while I'm reading, or otherwise have appalling table manners?" A new addition, brought about by experience, would be "are you going to pile all your stuff on the chair next to me, blocking me in, and refuse to move it when I need to get out?"

          I wish all people were a joy to be around, but alas, they are not. Unless you are certain you belong to former category, please do not ask to share my table.

          Also, you are kind of jumping in front of other people, since, you know, that other person might leave in 10 minutes, and there you are for another 20.

          1. At casual seat yourself places, I don't have a problem with asking strangers if I can have the empty seat at their table, and I don't mind if someone asks to join me or my party. I've met some very interesting people through shared seating.

            At restaurants with hostess seating, but still casual, I will let the hostess know that I don't mind sharing a table with strangers. It might get me seated faster, might not. I think of it as the single rider line at amusement parks - it benefits the restaurant to fill as many seats as possible, and it doesn't harm anyone b/c the seat would otherwise be empty. As for "queue jumping," it's no different than accepting first available when there is a long wait for a seat on the patio.