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Should restaurants seat incomplete parties? [moved from Boston board]

VivreManger Apr 9, 2011 04:10 AM

"At a fine-dining restaurant, nobody should expect to be seated with an incomplete party, ever." [Boston portion: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/774561


On this point I most heartily disagree. The finest and fanciest restaurant at which I have ever eaten is Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road in London. Back then it had three Michelin stars, if my memory is correct. I came there at the proper time to meet a foodie friend for lunch. He called the restaurant to give me the message that he was delayed in London traffic. At that point the maitre de asked me if I prefer to continue sitting in the lounge or would like to be seated at our table.

That should be what all restaurants, plain or fancy, do. I reject the practice of delaying the sitting until all have arrived.

Now at GR's RHR waiting for a table was hardly an inconvenience. The lounge had comfortable seats and I could have ordered a drink while waiting. At most restos the holding area is not as comfortable, which makes the wait all the more annoying. It strikes me as the most elementary principle of service in the so-called hospitality industry that you do not keep someone standing in an uncomfortable area if you have a seat in which to put them. There may be some rationale for delaying taking the order until all have arrived, but there is no reason not to seat one's guests as promptly as possible.

  1. Boston_Otter Apr 9, 2011 05:55 AM

    I definitely second this. I've been to quite a few fine-dining restaurants in which one or more people in my party were delayed, and there was never an issue with seating those who'd already arrived. The concept of leaving an incomplete party waiting in the foyer, their table ready and available, is bizarre to me, and something I've only encountered once or twice in Boston.

    1. s
      sedimental Apr 9, 2011 07:08 AM

      The rationale is that the restaurant doesn't want *your* problem or inconvenience of a late comer or no show- to become *their* problem or inconvenience. I understand that for the most part.

      It can feel rude when you know *for sure* that the other parties are just a little late because they called and confirmed. It feels like you are not being "believed" or something...but most restaurants that are expensive or busy enough to care about this and enforce this policy- also are nice enough to have a comfy lounge or waiting area. It has not been my experience to be left standing by the door waiting.

      1. s
        smartie Apr 9, 2011 12:19 PM

        I think it's totally fair not to seat incomplete tables at any place with high turnaround per lunch or dinner session, but not at a high end restaurant which only has one seating per night, or at any place which is not full and not likely to be full (say out of season for example)

        2 Replies
        1. re: smartie
          The Drama Queen Apr 13, 2011 03:02 PM

          I have an Out to Lunch group in which I make reservations at different restuarants every month. Sometimes we have as many as 20 in our party. The table is already set up since I call the day before to make the reservations, yet there are several times where we are not seated til the entire party is there. Sometimes one or two may be late and occasionally one won't show up at all without notifying me. How long are we expected to stand in the lobby? I don't like this idea especially since the tables are ALWAYS set up and ready for just our party.

          Can anyone tell me why this is done?

          1. re: The Drama Queen
            foiegras Jun 22, 2012 09:23 PM

            Probably because it's their "policy." I eat out with groups all the time, and rarely encounter this. The restaurant will usually seat us when the party is largely complete, and often even when it's nowhere close to complete (probably to get us out the way when the bar and entry areas are small). Very few restaurants here will make a BFD out of a single straggler. And I very much appreciate that ... I consider the seating process, how we're treated in the bar, all part of the dining experience.

            I wonder if this is a regional thing ...

        2. l
          Lenorek Jun 22, 2012 06:02 AM

          The "reason" incomplete parties are not seated is to avoid tying up tables. If people are seated and waiting for others to arrive, the table is being occupied longer than if everyone arrived and ordered at once. It is a practice mostly in restaurants that are either looking for high table turnover, or are frequently crowded with waiting lists at peak times. Some defend the practice even from a customer service point of view because in theory at least, it reduces the wait times of customers who come in with complete parties.

          Personally, I think it it is dreadful. twenty years ago very few restaurants in my city would have dreamed of telling people, or worse yet putting up a little sign in the lobby that they "do not seat incomplete parties". To me, it is part of the decay of good manners and good customer service. Sometimes I feel if I see one more restaurant with over priced, glorified diner food, staff with multiple facial piercings and tats and bad attitudes, and an 'incomplete parties" policy, I will swear off restaurants and cook at home every night. I would probably save a bundle, too!

          15 Replies
          1. re: Lenorek
            mangiare24 Jun 22, 2012 06:31 AM

            "Personally, I think it it is dreadful. twenty years ago very few restaurants in my city would have dreamed of telling people, or worse yet putting up a little sign in the lobby that they "do not seat incomplete parties". To me, it is part of the decay of good manners and good customer service.

            I'm a little over 50 and I remember this practice being in use all my adult life. It is one reason most restaurants have a lounge/bar area; to accommodate the overflow of those waiting for a table, whether they have reservations or not. I really do not think it is a recent practice.

            1. re: Lenorek
              donovt Jun 22, 2012 09:47 AM

              I think people not showing up on time is a bigger sign of poor manners.

              1. re: donovt
                GreenDragon Jun 22, 2012 01:20 PM

                And in today's age, where everyone has access to instant communication, there is no excuse for someone who can't make it to call and tell the others so.

                1. re: donovt
                  HoosierFoodie Jun 23, 2012 09:25 AM


                  1. re: donovt
                    twyst Jun 23, 2012 06:37 PM

                    ding ding ding ding ding

                    1. re: donovt
                      joe777cool Jun 23, 2012 06:49 PM

                      Completely agree.

                    2. re: Lenorek
                      LeoLioness Jun 22, 2012 12:43 PM

                      I don't like overpriced bad food either (does anyone?) but this policy evolved for a reason. Too often that late couple doesn't show, so now the table of 6 is 4. Or three people are late, so now the table is 30 minutes behind (oops., sorry next party who has a reservation! You will just have to suck it up). Or people arrive at different times but all want to order food, throwing off the pace.

                      Good manners goes both ways.

                      1. re: LeoLioness
                        Cheflambo Jun 22, 2012 03:21 PM

                        The OP noted that in that situation, there were only 2 people, so they would only be occupying a 2-top. To seat one person at that table to wait for the other to arrive is not a problem. Where the problem arises is when the reservation is for 8 and only 6 show up; the incomplete party is seated anyway, and the latecomers never show. Two seats sit vacant for the entire meal, instead of the restaurant being able to seat another walk-in couple there.

                        My dining club had this happen once in a BYOB restaurant we all wanted to try. 10 said they were coming; 2 singles and a couple just decided not to show, with no notice to our organizer. We apologized to the (gracious) server for holding what amounted to a 4-top "hostage" for the 2 hours we were there (it was early evening, and the place was really bustling by the time we left). We also left him a much larger gratuity that we would have owed on our check. Since so many in our group are "in the industry" it seemed only fair, and spawned the SECOND hard-and-fast rule of the group -- ALWAYS call and cancel before the reservation time, to allow us to add others, or advise the retaurant. (The FIRST rule is ABC = Always Bring Cash).

                      2. re: Lenorek
                        Quine Jun 23, 2012 04:28 PM

                        "staff with multiple facial piercings and tats" how does that affect the food or service?

                        Seating an incomplete party is the same thing as camping at a table after dessert and bill paid, it's bad manners. One you are camped before you start, the other is after. Same consequences, more people have to wait longer because of campers and it's rude to them. And some of these people have made reservations, and arrived as a complete party, on time. I know some people like to feel like they are "The Lord of the Manor" by doing this, however, it doesn't make it a reality.

                        I'll be 60 this year and grew up in the restaurant business, and trust me, things haven't really changed that much. But I do feel that in the last decade or so, more customers are arriving and feeling "entitled" . I've seen customers act in such outrageous, drama queen, bullying ways, so much more often these last 20 or so years.

                        1. re: Quine
                          Lenorek Jun 23, 2012 05:23 PM

                          I have a tat myself but the multiple piercing and tats thing seems to be common among a type of young server who feels to good to treat customers well which in general seems to be an epidemic in the current 20 something crowd. You perspective semms like a very restaurant industry one which is fine. If you think you are seeing more customer drama though maybe it is because customers are suck of being treated badly. I have seen much change in the customer service attitude in general change in 20 years and none of it is good.

                          1. re: Lenorek
                            Quine Jun 23, 2012 05:34 PM

                            " multiple piercing and tats thing seems to be common among a type of young server who feels to good to treat customers well which in general seems to be an epidemic in the current 20 something crowd. "
                            So you judge people by the way they look? You see a piercing and start to feel automatically that your service will be bad? Interesting.

                            While I grew up in the business and did for a time, work in other industry places, my main body of work has been in the customer service field. Gotten quite a few awards and acknowledgments, through all these years. Which sorta messes up your "assumption" about my perspective.

                            1. re: Lenorek
                              LeoLioness Jun 23, 2012 06:34 PM

                              Older people complaining about "the younger generation" and how they dress/look/act is pretty much epidemic as well (and always has been. Didn't those guys from Liverpool have really long hair?)

                              1. re: LeoLioness
                                Quine Jun 23, 2012 07:32 PM

                                "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they allow disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children now are tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

                                attributed to Socrates by Plato

                                1. re: Quine
                                  twyst Jun 23, 2012 07:43 PM

                                  Furthermore, the good old days really werent that good!

                          2. re: Lenorek
                            Bill Hunt Jun 24, 2012 08:13 PM

                            I understand that choice, but then if I AM seated, I will usually place an order for a £300 Montrachet, to have that ready, when my guests do make their appearance. If I end up drinking that bottle, then a second will be ordered. It is not like a table is sitting empty.


                          3. m
                            mpjmph Jun 22, 2012 03:30 PM

                            To me, seating incomplete parties depends on a lot of variables. A party of 4, and 3 are already there? Go ahead and seat them. Party of 10, and only 4-5 so far? They need to wait if it's busy, let 'em sit if it's slow. Have a reservation in a private/semi-private room? Seat people as they arrive. In other words, if it's going to really mess up the flow by potentially having unused seats, wait for the whole party, otherwise, it's better to go ahead and seat those who are there and hope they order drinks and appetizers while they wait.

                            1. l
                              Lenorek Jun 22, 2012 09:02 PM

                              I maintain agreement with the OP. I worked in the industry myself at one time and I think that what I see here in some of the replies is that a simple fact is being forgotten: we are talking about customers not your personal guests. They are not privileged to be served it is a privilege to serve them. The customer is not there for the staff to have a convenient flow of service the staff is there to give those customers good service. Seat people as they arrive. Actually in my city the best restaurants rarely have this policy it is the medium priced cuisine wanna bes that do this. Another culprit is restaurants in fashionable locations with usually mediocre food.

                              I just think this whole tone of "it's rude to be late" , "manners go both ways" is misguided when we are talking about paying customers. Yes those members of the party who have not arrived on time are being rude to the others in that party. The restaurant is just blessed if they show up eat and hopefully leave a reasonable tip. Customers are getting harder to come by these days and the industry is suffering big time. Fine. Make those 3 people stand around the bar waiting for their forth for thirty minuets. The money you may have made on turning that table faster will be lost in those people not returning.

                              I call if I am going to be late for a reservation. I tip well I treat staff well and I order the nice things off the menu. I am the customer most any restaurant would like to have and I am not alone in saying I hate this practice and I avoid places that engage in it.

                              20 Replies
                              1. re: Lenorek
                                joe777cool Jun 23, 2012 06:48 PM

                                "Customers are getting harder to come by these days and the industry is suffering big time. Fine. Make those 3 people stand around the bar waiting for their forth for thirty minuets. The money you may have made on turning that table faster will be lost in those people not returning."

                                This is where you are wrong. You are saying that a restaurant should be held hostage to the whim of a party who cand make it in time for a reservation. You must be one of those that believes that "The customer is always right" no? Nope. The customer is NOT always right, but they are still the customer. They will be treated with respect and dignity, but you have to draw the line because people can be unrealistic, ignorant, selfish assholes (less than 1%). This is a business and if there are other people waiting for that table it is 100% rude that the customer assumes that their needs are more important than the restaurants, the servers (his/her income), and those patrons that arrived on time.

                                1. re: joe777cool
                                  Bill Hunt Jun 24, 2012 08:18 PM

                                  Well, maybe not. If I am hosting a board dinner for 20, and happen to arrive a tad before the guests, then I expect to be seated, and in a position, where I can easily greet the guests, as they arrive. I also get to pick the "welcome wine," and that is going to be a good one.

                                  I am the patron, and my guests are too. If I have a "table for 20," there is NO reason to deny me seating - none!

                                  If a restaurant wishes to "punish" me, then they are totally off the list for the next board dinner. I do not hesitate to "vote with my AMEX card."

                                  Sorry, but I do not "play games."


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                    joe777cool Jun 24, 2012 09:22 PM

                                    Well yes, there is a reason. When you seat say 4 out of 12, and then 6 dont show up, you are tying up 2 tables unnecessarily. This hurst the server and the restuarant, all because some were early/late/didnt show. There is no "game playing," restaurants have put this policy in place because no shows and late arrivals disrupt business enough to deem it necessary.

                                    Bill you are speaking about hosting board dinners, ordering £300 Montrachet, and having dinner guests get help up because they are meeting with parliament. Im making an assumption here, but I think that your experiences and expectations are not apples to apples to the majority of the posters here.

                                    1. re: joe777cool
                                      Quine Jun 24, 2012 09:50 PM

                                      But to also be fair, the dinners that Mr. Hunt holds and the places he chooses are on a vastly higher level than most of us experience.

                                      I do agree with him, that the level of service and accommodation, he expects, should be fully accorded to him, as host of a large group in a starred location. I have no doubts that Mr. Hunt is a perfect host and customer. Any business that would try to "pull rank" as he said, loses. And rightfully so.

                                      On the other hand, in the middle ground, it is harder to maintain a decent level of service with the economic issues working on the profit margins. Yes, tables need to be turned, camping is rude, holding reservations for late people who become no shows, and asking for complete parties to be seated are all ways to try to work around.

                                      And the best customer service cannot overcome a crude, rude customer. From my observations, in shopping and while dining, I have seen more crude, rude, plain out nasty customers than ever before. We were discussing this today at a family gathering. My cousin's MIL (who is about 70-80 yo) is so toxic that she forces, demands and battles for freebies, discounts and comps. She is embarrassing to be around for these reasons. My ex SIL (was the wife of a college president) would price switch items and argue vehemently when caught.
                                      Just as there is bad customer service ( which may or may not, be increasing,depending on your experiences) there are also bad customers you need to serve. I agree with others who have mentioned that the bad, toxic customer is increasing as well.

                                      1. re: Quine
                                        Bill Hunt Jun 26, 2012 07:02 PM

                                        Excellent points.

                                        Even in a flush world economy, turning tables is an important aspect of the restaurant business. Even, when in deep conversations, I try to be aware of that need, and especially if we are dining early.

                                        However, things can go differently, depending on the restaurant. We dined, not that long ago, at a new restaurant, with a multi-starred chef as the corporate head. That restaurant has zero stars, but WAS new. We arrived on time, with full party. We drank a lot of wine, and ordered in a fairly timely fashion, but were a bit slow. There WAS a line waiting, and our hostess approached and asked "could we entice you into receiving your after-dinner drinks at a lovely table in our lounge?" How could one resist? Everything was quickly, and efficiently moved to that table, and it WAS very nice. We finished up business, and the evening, and never missed a beat. That was classy, IMHO.

                                        Similar restaurant, and also without stars. This was one, where one guest was horribly late, but did call, to keep us abreast. Had we needed her, to be seated, we would not have eaten that night. Though we probably were a tad slow, hoping that she could join us, we did the wines, and went ahead and ordered. When she arrived, she declined any food, as we were ordering desserts, and a bottle of nice Sauternes. Before either the desserts, or the Sauternes had arrived, the host informed us that "You have been here too long, and you must go now." Hm-m-m, totally lacking in class, as no option was even mentioned. I paid, but had all desserts, a cheese course, and the Sauternes removed from the tab, plus have never booked them again. That reinforced why they have never gotten a star.

                                        Partial parties ARE a potential problem. I have no great idea how to address it, and can only rely on my experiences.

                                        Normally, my party arrives within about 15 mins. of the reservation, and unless Hell has frozen over, I always arrive early. Being late for an appointment, or a reservation, hurts me, like a spiral fracture.

                                        Still, a "partial party," might be better seen as "how many are missing."

                                        As per another reply, I have been blessed with very few "no-shows" in my life. Also, when that does happen, those folk will never see an invitation from me - whether it's a restaurant reservation, or a box for a major sporting event. No-shows are just not something that I can abide with - even with a Dr's. "excuse."

                                        Personally, I am glad to NOT be in the restaurant business, and only hope that I end up being a good patron.


                                      2. re: joe777cool
                                        Bill Hunt Jun 26, 2012 06:43 PM

                                        In my cases, we have not had any "no-shows," but I do agree that that could be a real issue.

                                        The closest that we have come was sort of what you describe in your last paragraph. One guest was very late, and though she informed her fiance, it was uncomfortable for all. Every now and then, "stuff" happens.

                                        We have hosted several diners where a particular surgeon was sort of the "guest of honor," and he got held up in surgery. Twice, he arrived a bit late, but in his scrubs.

                                        Now, we dine at mom-n-pops, and Michelin 3-star restaurants, so it does differ.

                                        Regardless, we try our best to make sure that most of the group arrives on-time.

                                        Very recently, we hosted a group of six (ourselves included). We arrived first, and were seated. I spent time with the wine list, and had the first wine course ordered, when the other four arrived (really close to the reservation's time). In the end, that probably got our table cleared about 15 mins. ahead of what it would have been. There can be good, but there can be bad. It just depends on the situation.

                                        I keep thinking about any no-shows, and the very few were known (often informing the restaurant, before we arrived), before we were seated, and we always gave the host/hostess the option to seat us, at a smaller table. Still, it has happened so very seldom, that I had to really pause and think.

                                        Good point,


                                  2. re: Lenorek
                                    twyst Jun 23, 2012 06:52 PM

                                    " Customers are getting harder to come by these days and the industry is suffering big time. "

                                    Actually, despite the hard economic times the restaurant industry is booming, not suffering.
                                    Restaurant sales are up 4% across the board from 2011, and 2011 was up 3% on 2010.

                                    1. re: twyst
                                      Lenorek Jun 23, 2012 07:55 PM

                                      In my city a recent news article stated that restaurants here were suffering and had been pretty consistently since 2008. However, I grant that could be a regional thing.

                                      I am 47, not 77 and generational change is real. I do not like the change in attitude I see in the whole of customer service, not just in restaurants. The "front line" of bad service is often the young because they perform the majority direct CS functions in all industries. Truth be told, a goodly number of their supervisors are closer to my age than 21, and are more responsible than not for the decline in good customer service.

                                      Every generation of young people has its share of snotty arrogant "to hip for you" types, It is just that in 1985, they did not get away with it at work. They got shown the door if they pulled it in customer service or office work. Now, it is tolerated all to often.

                                      So, here I am at the ripe old age of 47, sort of appalled that some of these brats all but get to flip their restaurant patrons off these days, at least at a lot of places. In another twenty years, THEY get to be upset about some other bit of cultural change they don't like so much, but their kids embrace/accept as normal. So it goes.

                                      1. re: Lenorek
                                        Quine Jun 23, 2012 09:17 PM

                                        wow, just wow.

                                        1. re: Quine
                                          joe777cool Jun 24, 2012 07:30 AM

                                          yup - I have no response

                                        2. re: Lenorek
                                          Lenorek Jun 24, 2012 07:57 AM

                                          I should add in fairness that not every server with multiple tats and facial piercings fits into the "rude" category, and that plenty of older servers are bad at their jobs, too. It is just that the younger crowd seems to have more frequently lost sight of what CS is suppose to be. The 40 somethings and on up have to take some responsibility for that to, though because it was our job to teach them that while the customer may not be always right the customer IS your paycheck. There are no "needs of the restaurant" to even consider without customers.

                                          There is talk everywhere about the decline in good customer service. It is probably more scary in retail at the moment than in restaurants. It probably has to do with many more factors than generational issues. That is just one thing.

                                          1. re: Lenorek
                                            mangiare24 Jun 25, 2012 10:22 AM

                                            "Every generation of young people has its share of snotty arrogant "to hip for you" types, It is just that in 1985, they did not get away with it at work. They got shown the door if they pulled it in customer service or office work. Now, it is tolerated all to often."

                                            Not even close to true. I was 24 in 1985 and we were no different than the 20-something workforce now. As it was then there are some bad apples now that take the spotlight off the mostly hardworking, respectful workers out there.

                                            "So, here I am at the ripe old age of 47, sort of appalled that some of these brats all but get to flip their restaurant patrons off these days, at least at a lot of places. "

                                            Brats? You seem to have a harsh grudge you're holding Lenorek.

                                            1. re: mangiare24
                                              Quine Jun 25, 2012 01:10 PM

                                              I agree. And I was 24 in 1976 and 34 in 1986. Now on the verge of 60 years old, I am still delighting in my food finds, and fresh, bright, happy, curious, people I meet while dining out. But you know they say, "seeing the world through rose colored glasses"? I imagine they are some other, darker, colored glasses people always are wearing.

                                              Ignored as well, was this, that I had posted earlier in the thread:

                                              "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they allow disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children now are tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

                                              attributed to Socrates by Plato

                                              So, if anything, *nothing* has changed. :-)

                                              1. re: Quine
                                                Lizard Jun 26, 2012 12:21 AM

                                                Now, I completely believe that the concern over bad manners is a thing that has persisted through the generations, but do you seriously believe *nothing* has changed?

                                                Tests today show that the present university generation demonstrates 25% less empathy of the generation before. And parents have become so protective over a notion of 'childhood' that young people are increasingly incapable of handling the basic challenges of housekeeping/house management. (http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics...) I think this is due to a number of factors, and not simply 'youth'.

                                                So, I'm not supporting any declamation of a generation, nor do I accept slamming on people for the matter of body-adornment, but there is a culture of narcissism building (one that also contributes to late parties, failures to cancel reservations, etc.) that is leading to the need for certain measures to be taken.

                                                (In that regard, I'd actually claim that waiting until a party is present makes sense-- it seems people don't realise that their lateness will affect the many other tables and customers at the restaurant, and that it's not just about the server's convenience.)

                                          2. re: twyst
                                            Bill Hunt Jun 24, 2012 08:19 PM

                                            Good for them. Maybe when they turn off all their clients, they can whine and get some governmental help?


                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                              twyst Jun 24, 2012 08:42 PM

                                              Bill, I definitely respect your opinion, but this coin has two sides. Many customers have gotten so rude and inconsiderate it's almost not worth the effort anymore. I know what good service is, my last front of house job was at CP in NOLA years ago, and I witnessed a very disturbing trend in the attitudes of many customers. There are just some clients out there that just aren't worth having any more. In the old days the customer was always right because the customer was almost always reasonable, that is sometimes not the case any longer.

                                              1. re: twyst
                                                Bill Hunt Jun 24, 2012 09:18 PM

                                                In my case, I am never rude. I am a total professional, and expect to be treated, as such. If things go OFF, then I have issues, and will vote with my AMEX card, which has had to be replaced twice, as I have worn off the numbers.

                                                I will not argue that some are just not great clients. Actually, I have contributed to a couple of CP thread (a few recently, and many more, over the years), and understand how a diner can be shafted. If they stand for it, they are not going to get any satisfaction. If they move on, and vote with that credit card, then maybe?

                                                I am extremely fortunate, in that I get to dine at great restaurants, around the world, and get to sample the joys, of what they can bring.

                                                When a restaurant "disses" me, I make a note, and never darken their door again. There are many choices out there. Many have multiple Michelin stars, and I can book them, instead of a restaurant, that does not appreciate me.

                                                Also, with CH, and a half-dozen other such sites, I can tell the truth, and reach millions of potential diners. So long as I DO tell the truth, then tons of others can make their determination, and their reservations.

                                                I am a tough client, but openly communicate with my service team, the sommelier, and often with the chef. I want great, but tell each, what that means. No one is ever left in the dark.

                                                If I am one of those clients, that the establishment does not want, all they have to do is pull me aside, and tell me. I can make that happen, and in a heartbeat.


                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                  twyst Jun 24, 2012 09:25 PM

                                                  Bill, you are obviously not one of the customers I was speaking about as I have always valued your input on many threads, I was speaking in generalities ;)

                                                  I actually often look to your posts for guidance on a lot of issues!

                                                2. re: twyst
                                                  joe777cool Jun 24, 2012 09:30 PM

                                                  you hit the nail on the head twyst! Some people arent reasonable. I am sure Bill is a stand up guy who honors all of his obligations but too often customers just dont care.

                                                  1. re: joe777cool
                                                    Bill Hunt Jun 26, 2012 07:13 PM

                                                    I have always tried to be. My mother was a real stickler for "Southern Manners," while my father managed to find ways to plot against that. It was a domestic problem, and i was seldom privy to such discussions. Still, I have been the victim of "the look," enough times to have learned a few lessons, along the way.

                                                    I always try to respect the restaurant, and anticipate that they will reciprocate to me. Most feel that I am an ideal patron, and most show it.

                                                    As for other patrons, well there have been some very active thread on such, and I have participated in several.

                                                    As for the "seating policy," I can understand some concepts, though certainly not all.


                                          3. Bill Hunt Jun 24, 2012 08:09 PM

                                            At "fine-dining" restaurants, around the globe, I have never had a problem. I have been seated, an begin to work over the wine list. We have ONLY had one issue, and that was the very last person in the group, who had to meet with Parliament, in an after-hours session. In the end, we got moved, about the 6th course, to the bar.

                                            Cannot recall any other issue.


                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                              hyacinthgirl Jun 25, 2012 08:34 AM

                                              That's interesting, it did just make me realize that while it has been standard course for a restaurant to not seat me (a 33 year old face in the crowd) if my party was not yet all present, this restaurant policy has never once been executed when I would dine with my former employer (a world renowned architect), or with any of my major donors, all well known and recognizable.

                                              And while my friends might run 5 minutes late, many times when dining with the well-known, we'd be waiting for closer to 30 or 40 minutes for the last of the party to arrive, but at least we'd be waiting at the table with a drink in our hands.

                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl
                                                Bill Hunt Jun 26, 2012 07:19 PM

                                                Interesting observation. For us, my wife and I are usually the first to arrive, and are often the hosts for the evening. I cannot recall such (not that I am denying that it might happen), but would feel a tad "put out," by it.

                                                Going way, way back, I do recall some restaurants, that did not treat me, and my young wife, with the greatest dignity, though some have changed their minds, later in my life.

                                                I feel that youth should NOT be an issue, with seating, or service. All patrons should be treated the same. I sort of resent it, when a restaurant tells me that my request could not be honored, as an "important patron" had just shown up, and wanted the table that I had reserved, and confirmed (many times via telephone, letter and FAX). "Important patron?" What am I, chopped liver? Fortunately, I do not encounter that very often, but when I do, I vote with my AMEX card, and dine elsewhere.


                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                  twyst Jun 26, 2012 07:58 PM

                                                  " I sort of resent it, when a restaurant tells me that my request could not be honored, as an "important patron" had just shown up, and wanted the table that I had reserved, and confirmed (many times via telephone, letter and FAX)."

                                                  Yeah, I just saw that in another thread and found it quite shocking. Things must have really gone downhill in the decade since I left!

                                                  1. re: twyst
                                                    Bill Hunt Jun 26, 2012 08:25 PM

                                                    If you were the reason that we always got, what we requested, months in advance, then I owe you a great "THANK YOU."

                                                    As I almost always plan ahead, and then confirm, many times, as I do not like surprises, when things go off, they really hurt.

                                                    That one restaurant episode was not the only one, but was the only food-related catastrophe. Most of the rest have been regarding lodging.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                      twyst Jun 26, 2012 08:33 PM

                                                      I can't take credit for that, I was just a college kid working my way through tulane behind the bar there and had nothing to do with your seating arrangements, its just that I can't imagine this happening in the environment I was working in then. It was drilled into our heads to do ANYTHING in order to make sure a guest was happy, and records were kept of every guests preferences etc on the computer so we knew what most people wanted before they walked though the door. I have heard many NOLA restaurants have had issues maintaining their old service standards since the storm, and I think that's really a shame.

                                                      Surely with as often as you dined there you had to have been xxp'd (brennan family version of VIP) in the system, so its doubly shocking that this happened to you as it shouldnt happen to ANYONE, much less to someone who is a frequent customer.

                                                      1. re: twyst
                                                        Bill Hunt Jun 26, 2012 09:28 PM

                                                        Great input.

                                                        I experience similar with OpenTable, where a dossier is kept (probably with other software, as well?), and restaurants are "ready for us." Many will seat my wife, and me, at a four-top, as they know that we will likely have a dozen wine glasses.

                                                        In the cited instance, it was pre-K, but was probably our 20th visit. For my wife's birthday, we always requested the exact same table, from when we lived there, or when we flew in. It was almost always an annual trek. That year, I made the reservations by phone. I then followed up with a letter, and then a FAX. When we arrived in town, I called, about 5 days out. All was good. The day before, I called again, and all was still good. We arrived, and were told that "important people" had just shown up, and wanted our table. OK, that was sort of the "beginning of the end."

                                                        Obviously, 20 +/- visits, were not even noticed. That was the very last time that we did her birthday there. While we have done a few events (not really impressed), and have hosted 2-3 dinners, IIRC, it was pretty much the same - tired, and bothered service, with food that was not up to par. That saddened us both greatly, as we had decades of great memories. At least, we have those memories...

                                                        On a side note, I had dined at a particular French, fine-dining restaurant in Washington, DC, maybe five times. On each, my wife had board dinners, so I was solo. At last, she was able to join me. Other than a reservation for two, instead of my normal "table for one," there was no note, that things were different. When we were being led to our table, the entire staff, including the sommelier and chef, lined the hallway, just to welcome her! What a nice touch. Everyone commented that they had heard about her, but were now able to meet her. Maybe I was such a bad patron, that they were all relieved? Still, a very nice, and welcoming touch. Though she is used to commanding the full attention of an entire board room, full of international CEO's, she was almost in tears.



                                            2. mtoo Jun 25, 2012 01:53 PM

                                              As a server, the problem that I have with incomplete parties is that it's like getting quadruple sat when your party of 8 shows up two at a time. I've got to make 4 trips to the table to take drink orders (and answer questions about our beers/wines/cocktails) in a relatively short window of time. Not necessarily a problem for me or the 8 top, but my other tables aren't gonna get the greatest service while I am tied up in the time consuming process of getting the first round of drinks for the people who keep joining the 8 top.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: mtoo
                                                mangiare24 Jun 26, 2012 04:00 AM

                                                As an ex server, great observation mtoo.

                                              2. m
                                                MonMauler Jun 27, 2012 07:18 AM

                                                I dine out often, and when I dine with a group it is extraordinarily rare that everyone will show up at the same time. Frequently, there are a few stragglers that will show up 5-10 minutes after the actual reservation time.

                                                I do not have a problem waiting for the complete group IF there is a bar/lounge where I can EASILY procure a beverage. If there is no such space OR I cannot easily procure a beverage, then I quickly become frustrated. I understand if all the tables are full and I have to wait, but if there is no bar and the restaurant is expecting me to wait more than 20-30 minutes before I am seated, then I will almost certainly walk out on my reservation, and it will be a long time before I return. If there are seats available, no bar, and they expect me to wait beyond my reservation time, then I will simply leave and take the group elsewhere.

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