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after meal etiquette

bonnienola May 20, 2011 08:24 PM

A few months back my wife and I and four other friends had a Wednesday night reservation at Boucherie in New Orleans.We visit New Orleans several times a year and have loved dining at Boucherie on our last four visits, so I am familiar with the intricacies and table size limitations of the restaurant. We arrived at 7:20 for our 7:30 reservation and after reporting to the hostess were told that the diners seated at our table were finishing up dessert and that while our table would not be ready at 7:30 it should be available shortly. We waited and waited for almost an hour. We could see our prospective table and watched as it's occupants slowly drank cups of coffee and conversed while pushed back from the table. Our waiter to be ,apologized and I must admit made several attempts to move the party along. They just plain refused to leave. We were finally seated and as usual enjoyed a wonderful meal. The problem is that we are returning to New Orleans and I want to eat at Boucherie while my wife refuses, saying that the restaurant did not handle the situation well.I am curious as to what the restaurant could have done differently. Were the prior diners exceptionally rude ,or am I wrong in thinking they should have vacated the table sooner

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  1. h
    Harters RE: bonnienola May 21, 2011 07:21 AM

    Assuming that the restaurant does not set a time limit on the table when it accepts reservations, then I think they did all they reasonably could do, in trying move the party along. That said, had I been a member of the other partyand started to feel that the waiter was hassling me, on several occasions, to move before I was ready to, then I would have objected to that. And it would certainly have reflected significantly in the waiter's tip.

    Usually, restaurants are suitably skilled in managing their tables. Some will set time limits when booking, others do not seek to turn tables during an evening, others stagger their reservations so they can handle both the table that lingers and the table that eats quicker than expected. Others, if there is a pressure on tables, will offer to serve coffee in the bar area. Nothings seems to have happened here.

    To answer your specific question, I do think the other diners were rude (or, even, inconsiderate) nor do I think they should have been expected to vacate their table until they were ready to

    5 Replies
    1. re: Harters
      Harters RE: Harters May 21, 2011 03:05 PM

      Spot the missing word time.

      When, in the previous post, I wrote "I do think the other diners were rude", I had intended this to be "I do not......"

      1. re: Harters
        iL Divo RE: Harters May 22, 2011 07:15 AM

        ...having written what I did on the subject [here] I agree with you. they probably paid a hefty price to have dinner there too and there is no time limit that a party must adhere to. they can stay all night. I know in our experience, we've often been given the evil eye to leave so someone else can have our table too but what about the next cup of coffee I'm planning on enjoying and holding my husbands' hand after a hectic week at work, it's relax time...

        1. re: iL Divo
          cowboyardee RE: iL Divo May 22, 2011 07:24 AM

          "There is no time limit that a party must adhere to. they can stay all night."
          This is simply untrue. Of course, no smart front of house manager is gonna kick a party out for taking a little long with their coffee. But they certainly have the right to. Try showing up at a busy, fully booked place for a lunch reservation and then staying through dinner service without ordering anything after lunch. Refuse to leave after each increasingly blunt suggestion that your time is up - maybe even order another round of sodas around hour 5. Eventually police will be called.

          Basically, there is a point at which customers are very reasonably winding down their meal, there is a point at which customers are being rude by not leaving, and there is a point at which customers are being egregious assholes begging for a scene to be made by not leaving. The OP's example didn't get all the way to egregious asshole territory. Doesn't mean they were in the right.

          1. re: cowboyardee
            monavano RE: cowboyardee May 22, 2011 08:21 AM


            1. re: cowboyardee
              mcf RE: cowboyardee Aug 8, 2011 06:29 PM

              Well said. Sometimes, even if you have the right to do something, it isn't the right thing to do it.

      2. cowboyardee RE: bonnienola May 21, 2011 08:11 AM

        I think lingering over coffee without ordering anything new for ~1 hour at a full restaurant is bad form - not the epitome of rudeness, but definitely inconsiderate. They surely could tell or deduce that there were people waiting. Eating a meal at a restaurant does not give you an inalienable right to hang out at the table for as long as you want to.

        If the restaurant staff made several gentle attempts to usher them along, I'd say they were handling the situation about as well as they could have with respect to the other party - giving them the boot outright is not a good idea for either the restaurant or its customers.

        That said, if it becomes apparent to me that a restaurant habitually overbooks itself, that would make me think twice about going back. And also, had I been the restaurant manager, I probably would have comped you guys a round of drinks or something for a wait that long when you had a reservation.

        1. e
          escondido123 RE: bonnienola May 21, 2011 08:15 AM

          I can understand why you would be annoyed at the people sitting at your table, but it was their table until they left. Maybe they were seated late and then rushed through their meal and so decided to extend the time through coffee. You did not make a reservation for a specific table, just a specific time. Did other people get seated at "their" tables who had reservations later than you? If not, then it sounds like this is such a good restaurant people like to linger. And that's a good and bag thing. In New Orleans, there are lots of restaurant choices but you can find that lingering happening in any of them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: escondido123
            LaLa RE: escondido123 Aug 8, 2011 04:12 PM

            That's what I am wondering....why didn't they just seat you at the next available table?

          2. n
            nobadfoodplz RE: bonnienola May 21, 2011 08:22 AM

            There will come a time when restaurants will not only accept a reservation but also instruct the first seating that there is a time limit since there is a second seating People can accept or reject that condition. Until that is placed in effect, people with the second seating are completely at the whim of those seated. If the restaurant does all it can and the people refuse to leave, it is the restaurant's choice to upset group #1 or group #2.

            I would never wait an hour for a table, especially in an area where so many choices exist. If the restaurant does not place my reservation above those that have violated acceptable decorum, then I can take my business elsewhere for that evening and try again in the future, if desired. And that next time will include and incredibly leisurely dinner and coffee during the first seating.

            2 Replies
            1. re: nobadfoodplz
              HoosierFoodie RE: nobadfoodplz May 21, 2011 03:26 PM

              Well you may not wait an hour but have fun at McDonalds if it is a busy night or late in the evening. The problem is that by the the time you leave and find another place, if you can find one, it's more than that one hour. Sometimes it's not that easy.

              It's unfortunate when these things happen but they do and sometimes people don't understand that, at least in the US the table isn't "yours for the night".

              1. re: HoosierFoodie
                nobadfoodplz RE: HoosierFoodie May 21, 2011 07:56 PM

                Mr HF

                We are very fortunate where I live

                A - We do not have McDonalds in my town and probably only one within the neighboring 5 towns
                B - There are plenty of choices, so 1 hour wait is easily fixed with other restaurants.
                C - If not then there is always the house for a nice quiet meal.

                But you are right. If the balance of power is totally in the restaurant's favor there is nothing to do.

            2. Karl S RE: bonnienola May 21, 2011 12:42 PM

              The lingering party was exceptionally rude at that hour given the context, but not the restaurant. The restaurant cannot expel them, however; restaurants cannot know in advance when booking reservations which party will abuse their hospitality.

              While in the US, most restaurants don't have the practice of timed seatings (which would involve non-monetary and monetary cost increases that most US customers would object to), the social compact is that one does not linger long in a full restaurant in the peak dining hours. Diners who violate the compact are rightly considered rude. There's no remedy in particular, only to reiterate the social compact in places like this and one's own networks, et cet.

              1. iluvcookies RE: bonnienola May 21, 2011 01:09 PM

                I don't understand... does this restaurant only have one table? Surely the resto could have seated you elsewhere. Was no other table being vacated during this time?

                4 Replies
                1. re: iluvcookies
                  iL Divo RE: iluvcookies May 22, 2011 07:23 AM

                  iluv.................I wondered that too

                  1. re: iluvcookies
                    culinas RE: iluvcookies May 22, 2011 09:02 AM

                    I'm not the OP, but the place in question has maybe a dozen tables (might be ten). Two more if the porch is open. And I think four seats at the bar.

                    1. re: culinas
                      monavano RE: culinas May 22, 2011 09:11 AM

                      Then they should have a firm reservation policy that tells the customer that they need the table by X.

                      1. re: monavano
                        GraydonCarter RE: monavano May 24, 2011 08:05 PM

                        Seems like this is what is always going to happen in a popular restaurant with only 12 tables.

                        The OP's wife shouldn't refuse on the basis that the restaurant did nott handle the situation well, but on the basis that there are not enough tables to be able to be seated at the time of the reservation.

                  2. PeterL RE: bonnienola May 21, 2011 01:13 PM

                    I don't know if that's possible, but the restaurant could've offered to move the party to the bar area to finish their coffee. They possibly should not have booked their reservations so close together. Or they should've offered you a drink or a dessert. Just my 2 cents.

                    Unless they restaurant set a time limit, the prior party should feel no obligation to vacate their table. It would be considerate had they done so, but not required.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: PeterL
                      Ruth Lafler RE: PeterL Jul 12, 2011 12:04 AM

                      Agree on all counts. It's saddens me how many people seem to have forgotten that the number one purpose of a restaurant is to provide hospitality, which definitely does not mean standing there with a stopwatch measuring out how much time people get at their table and labeling them as rude if they don't leave at some arbitrary time. If a restaurant manager can't figure out how to work around the occasional patron who lingers too long, then he should find another line of work.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                        LeoLioness RE: Ruth Lafler Jul 12, 2011 06:19 AM

                        Actuslly, the number one purpose if a restaursnt is to turn a profit.....

                        1. re: LeoLioness
                          KaimukiMan RE: LeoLioness Jul 13, 2011 03:57 AM

                          How about we combine them (and i added a third qualifier)

                          The purpose of a restaurant is to turn a profit by providing hospitality centered on food.

                          Any business should generate a profit
                          Hospitality can be offered by a Bar, a Hotel, a tour company, or your Aunt Mabel - It may or may not include food.

                    2. ipsedixit RE: bonnienola May 21, 2011 01:16 PM

                      Unless told otherwise by the restaurant staff, nothing wrong with what the diners did. It's their table, they paid for it, they can sit there as long as they want.

                      Fault here, if any, lies with the restaurant management staff.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        purple bot RE: ipsedixit May 21, 2011 08:31 PM

                        "It's their table, they paid for it, they can sit there as long as they want."

                        I'm sorry, but I respectfully disagree with you ipse (and others). The diners didn't pay for the table for the evening, they paid for dinner, and once dinner is finished they need to move along. Assuming the restaurant allowed enough time for a leisurely dinner (2 hours?) it seems very entitled and inconsiderate to me to think that because you had dinner somewhere you're free to sit indefinitely. You go to a restaurant for dinner, a relaxing dinner at that, and when it's over you leave. I'm not talking about sprinting out the door once the check is paid, but sitting for an hour beyond that (or even a half hour) is very rude.

                        I might also add that this is a no-win situation for the restaurant management. The second seating is mad because you can't produce the table. If you take action and somehow ask the lingerers to move along, you're at fault in their eyes too. I don't envy that manager.

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          nobadfoodplz RE: ipsedixit May 22, 2011 06:10 AM

                          Mr I

                          I disagree totally. What they did was totally wrong. The party that stayed for such a lengthy time were clueless and completely self-centered, self-focussed and self-entitled. They were there for dinner, not to occupy the real estate for inordinate amounts of time. The question is how long is long? If they order coffee and that extends for 15-20 minutes is one thing, but an hour is too long, on a busy night.

                          I agree that fault lies with the management staff, what could they have done? They were in the middle, ask them to leave, they get pissed off, do not ask, and the next party gets pissed off. No-win for them.

                          1. re: nobadfoodplz
                            Harters RE: nobadfoodplz May 22, 2011 06:48 AM

                            "What they did was totally wrong. The party that stayed for such a lengthy time were clueless and completely self-centered, self-focussed and self-entitled"

                            No, no. Don't pull any punches. You should just tell us how you really feel about this.

                            1. re: nobadfoodplz
                              DeppityDawg RE: nobadfoodplz May 22, 2011 07:06 AM

                              Maybe the diners were deliberately lingering in order to punish the restaurant for perceived poor treatment on a previous occasion. Just as you said you would do, in your earlier posting. Now is it OK?

                              1. re: DeppityDawg
                                susancinsf RE: DeppityDawg May 22, 2011 07:36 AM

                                "Maybe the diners were deliberately lingering in order to punish the restaurant for perceived poor treatment on a previous occasion. "

                                Or perhaps they were deliberately lingering because they knew someone wanted the table. Back in the days when people still used pay phones, I read a study that concluded that people talked longer on average on the pay phone when they knew someone was waiting. (though I have no idea what the methodology was...how do you measure someone's intentions?) But it is possible that they were picking up on the restaurants cues about wanting the table and were thinking 'hey, no one is going to rush me'....

                                I am unlikely to wait an hour past my reservation for a table. Last time this happened to me, we left and went elsewhere. However, if I were in a special dining town away from home and really wanted to hit a place that was special to me, I might. I think if I were in OP's shoes, I'd call the restaurant, or send them a note, tell them you really want to go back but explain why you are having a hard time convincing my spouse, and asked the restaurant if there is anything they can do to help assure it wouldn't happen a second time. If the restaurant wasn't very reassuring (or if heaven forbid, it did happen a second time), I wouldn't go, or would leave immediately.

                                However: I just re-read the OP's post and realized that this was a party of six. I am not familiar with the restaurant in question, but it could well be that there was NOT an alternative table for a party that size if it is a small restaurant. Moreover, leaving and going elsewhere with a larger party isn't that easy to do. Perhaps it wont be an issue if the OP goes back with just a party of two. Still worth letting the restaurant know about his wife's hesitation, however.

                                Given the size of the party, and presuming another table wasn't available, the restaurant could have offered a drink or something similar as an apology, I think.

                                1. re: susancinsf
                                  janetofreno RE: susancinsf May 22, 2011 08:11 AM

                                  You may not remember, but I remember being on the other end of this situation with you once...where we were lingering over conversation and the table was needed in a busy SF restaurant. I don't think we were aware that the table was needed; it was more a case of enjoying the end of the meal. Anyway, a waiter finally asked us if the restaurant could buy us an after-dinner drink at the bar, as the table was needed. We were happy to move and take the drink....and it was a good solution all around. I think better for the restaurant to buy a drink or two than lose the table....

                                  1. re: janetofreno
                                    Bill Hunt RE: janetofreno Jul 13, 2011 07:14 PM

                                    Similar happened recently at a newer restaurant by a noted chef in London. We had dined early, but business was being discussed, and we were unaware that the restaurant had filled to capacity. As we had finished the desserts, and were moving on to the Ports, the service captain approached, and asked if they could comp our Ports, in their bar area, as they did need that table. We declined the offer to comp the Ports, but gladly retired to the bar, to finish our conversation, and thanked them for their gracious offer. They did manage to get some more little desserts onto the bar table, but we were through protesting their kindness, and just ate them. [Grin]

                                    It was never our intention to hog a table, on a busy night, and they were very kind to first, phrase things, as they did, and then to make offers to accommodate us. To me, this shows a concern for patrons, and not just the ones waiting for a table.


                                2. re: DeppityDawg
                                  nobadfoodplz RE: DeppityDawg May 22, 2011 07:36 AM

                                  Mr DD

                                  As I was writing the response I asked myself (a) if that was the case, or (b) if someone would bring up my earlier post.

                                  If that was the case, then yes, I would said it was OK to bring the world back to sync. BUT, I would also say that if the owner or the manager were to come over and ask for us to relocate, or if there was anything they could bring or any of the passive-aggressive means to moves us, I would simply state, "No we are fine, but thank you for asking. I thought this was standard procedure at your restaurant since you made us wait for an hour the last time. We will let you know when we are finished. Please do not bother us again."

                                  1. re: nobadfoodplz
                                    DeppityDawg RE: nobadfoodplz May 22, 2011 07:50 AM

                                    I don't think the world was ever or will ever be "in sync" but it would be a step in the right direction if (a) people would learn to let go, and (b) not intentionally be jerks.

                                    1. re: DeppityDawg
                                      nobadfoodplz RE: DeppityDawg May 22, 2011 08:06 AM

                                      Neil Armstrong, baby.

                                    2. re: nobadfoodplz
                                      invinotheresverde RE: nobadfoodplz May 23, 2011 06:51 AM

                                      Two wrongs make a right?

                                  2. re: nobadfoodplz
                                    ipsedixit RE: nobadfoodplz May 22, 2011 11:52 AM

                                    purple bot and nobadfoodplz,

                                    In a situation like this is, the onus is on the restaurant to handle the situation, diplomatically and delicately. Like someone else said, downthread, perhaps the staff could've offered to buy the heavy-butted diners a drink at the bar, or give subliminal clues like setting down the folder with the bill, etc.

                                    Of course it would be considerate for a diner to be cognizant of their surroundings and the general activity level of the restaurant. But one cannot expect that to be the case. The diners in this situation were simply enjoying their meal, with a heavy-butt. So be it.

                                    It is not their fault that they lingered.

                                    It is the restaurant's fault for lack of management and poor pacing. And, perhaps, for letting them linger.

                                    Having been in and grown up in the restaurant business, it's an extremely difficult part of running a restaurant, and more often than not it is one of the reasons restaurants shutter.

                                    Again, like I said above, the diners did nothing wrong. Their job is not to control the pace of their meal. That job falls to the management.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                      nobadfoodplz RE: ipsedixit May 22, 2011 12:07 PM

                                      From the post that started this thread:

                                      "Our waiter to be ,apologized and I must admit made several attempts to move the party along. They just plain refused to leave."

                                      So in this case if was the diners who were more in the wrong than the manager.

                                      But according to your post, you own the table so even if the manager told you to vacate you would stay seated since possession is 9/10th of the law and ownership probably gets the last 1/10th.

                                      Unless the manager called the police, it appears that they a reasonable job (other than the ongoing coffee pours) in this case and the people believed that they had self-entitled ownership rights than manners.

                                      "It is not their fault that they lingered." - whose fault might it be then? Were they forced to linger, or were they just didn't care since the world ended last night.

                                  3. re: ipsedixit
                                    iL Divo RE: ipsedixit May 22, 2011 07:24 AM


                                  4. Roarasaur RE: bonnienola May 21, 2011 09:08 PM

                                    I think anywhere in excess of an hour after your dinners and desserts have arived is quite a long time. I do agree with the idea that you can't really usher the patrons at the table along but there must have been another 4 person table that opened up within that one hour span. Either way, if you made a reservation, the Manager should have made it up to you somehow with drinks or an appetizer of some sort (especially since you made a reservation). It is one of those unspoken common courtesy rules. If half an hour had passed after I finished my dessert and my waiter had told me there was a table waiting, I would have wrapped up my conversations in 5 minutes and moved elsewhere to another area.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Roarasaur
                                      invinotheresverde RE: Roarasaur May 23, 2011 06:53 AM

                                      The OP was a party of 6, which makes seating them more difficult.

                                    2. iL Divo RE: bonnienola May 22, 2011 07:06 AM

                                      I have no idea what to say here because I hate being in your shoes for something like this. I almost think that my mentality must look like "here comes trouble" written on my forehead when I'd have made several trips to the managers desk and inquired as to when we'd be served. I also know that wouldn't have been the way to handle it. What if you had a reservation for an event later in the evening and was already cutting it close. You'd have had to high tail it down the street to August and hope to get in there :( *}}

                                      As I'm sure all had reservations as you did, you should have gotten the first available table and they should have arranged extra seating there if need be, in other words whatever it would have been to take care of you and your party, it should have been done. Comping you a first round of drinks plus appetizer [or whatever] could have made you at least forget how long you had to wait and maybe insured that you'd be a return customer as well. They'd have lost some income for that night regarding you but a little lost tonight equals more coming in later in my opinion.

                                      1. monavano RE: bonnienola May 22, 2011 08:17 AM

                                        Camping in never cool. You have to have some modicum of awareness as a diner-- restaurants turn over tables, duh!
                                        Even more not cool is having a reservation not be honored. An hour is beyond ridiculous and I would have walked if I could have. That's just crap and it'd piss me off to spend my money there after such an inhospitable start. Did they even offer a drink?
                                        If the restaurant can't make it happen, then seat first come, first serve.

                                        13 Replies
                                        1. re: monavano
                                          iL Divo RE: monavano May 22, 2011 08:49 AM


                                          and to all who misunderstood what I'd said, I won't stay for oodles of time just because I can, we never do, but if I finish my dinner and want a cup of coffee, I DON'T WANT SOMEONE STANDING OVER ME anticipating our departure, that's rude too...............

                                          1. re: iL Divo
                                            monavano RE: iL Divo May 22, 2011 08:55 AM

                                            Of course. You should be able to enjoy a lingering cup of coffee and servers should not hover. Hovering and camping, both not cool

                                            1. re: monavano
                                              nobadfoodplz RE: monavano May 22, 2011 10:56 AM

                                              Once a server brought a second bill and placed it right next to the first bill when the restaurant was 50% full and noone waiting. Both bills got the same tip for that stupidity.

                                              1. re: nobadfoodplz
                                                monavano RE: nobadfoodplz May 22, 2011 01:18 PM

                                                Wowzers!! Talk about passive aggressive!!!

                                                1. re: monavano
                                                  nobadfoodplz RE: monavano May 22, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                  But the learning lesson was...priceless

                                                  1. re: nobadfoodplz
                                                    monavano RE: nobadfoodplz May 22, 2011 01:33 PM

                                                    I like the way you think...and your chutzpah! Oh, and not P-A on your part....the server's part ;-)

                                                    1. re: monavano
                                                      nobadfoodplz RE: monavano May 22, 2011 02:35 PM


                                                      Totally understood the passive aggressiveness comment was addressed to the server, which I agree totally. My response was neither passive, but probably aggressive, and adding chutzpah to it is a nice touch.

                                          2. re: monavano
                                            Bill Hunt RE: monavano Jul 13, 2011 07:31 PM

                                            Not sure that it is incumbent on the diners to be aware of their surroundings. As an example, you are about to close a major deal, and are in deep conversation. Should you tell your donor "wait a moment, I need to look about, and determine if they need this table?" I think not.

                                            For general, and idle conversation, that can take place in the bar area, just as well. Offering to move a party to that, plus offering a pour of whatever they are drinking, can go a very long way towards good will.


                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                              monavano RE: Bill Hunt Aug 5, 2011 06:44 AM

                                              I'm always aware of my surroundings. Do you really want to look unaware of others, situation and context? I think not.
                                              Maybe it's being a woman, as we tend to multitask and be more tuned in to others. It's in our nature ;-)

                                              1. re: monavano
                                                Bill Hunt RE: monavano Aug 29, 2011 08:34 PM

                                                Well, maybe closing a £ 10M donation can be a tad distracting?


                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                  monavano RE: Bill Hunt Sep 4, 2011 11:26 AM

                                                  read above.

                                                  1. re: monavano
                                                    Bill Hunt RE: monavano Sep 5, 2011 07:47 PM

                                                    I can read all I want, but when I have a gracious donor, about to grace my charity with a small fortune, I cannot be bothered by many others. That is just the way that it is.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                      josephnl RE: Bill Hunt Sep 5, 2011 09:44 PM

                                                      On those rare instances when I've had a dinner where I truly needed privacy, I've always selected the appropriate restaurant, let the management know that I needed privacy, have always been treated with the utmost discretion...and, of course, have always tipped appropriately. Shouldn't be a problem at the right restaurant, and with the appropriate advance notice to management.

                                          3. s
                                            smartie RE: bonnienola May 22, 2011 08:31 AM

                                            and you can be sure if the party was late for their reservation they would have given the table away.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: smartie
                                              monavano RE: smartie May 22, 2011 08:40 AM

                                              Excellent point! Can you imagine showing up for your reservation an hour late and expect to be seated?
                                              I'm with the OP's wife--enjoy another restaurant.

                                              1. re: monavano
                                                iL Divo RE: monavano May 22, 2011 08:50 AM

                                                "I'm with the OP's wife--enjoy another restaurant."


                                                1. re: iL Divo
                                                  monavano RE: iL Divo May 22, 2011 08:58 AM

                                                  Right? New Orleans is a mecca of amazing restaurants. If I got to go back and visit, I'd pick another one even if my experience was terrific and the one before. There's just too much good food to choose from!

                                                  1. re: monavano
                                                    iL Divo RE: monavano May 23, 2011 07:46 AM

                                                    There are, you're right Monavano. There are so many places to choose there. But if I had a special occasion, a really important date I was celebrating and maybe I'd saved and saved for a special occasion and then was as disappointed as you were due to your experience at your chosen establishment, I'd not return.

                                                    Maybe it wasn't their fault, maybe they think they tried to rectify the problem, maybe they think they were expeditious in getting you seated when they did......but no matter, they were a negative experience to you, you carried that through the night and paid the bill, no doubt tipped your wait staff and left when you were done with a bad taste in your mouth....they fell flat and I'd listen to your wife's suggestion and not return. That will speak louder to the establishment than a well worded well written complaint letter.

                                            2. b
                                              beevod RE: bonnienola May 23, 2011 07:47 AM

                                              Walk over and explain that, "You are sitting at my table. Please finish your coffee and leave."

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: beevod
                                                monavano RE: beevod May 23, 2011 08:19 AM

                                                Direct and succinct....I like it!! (although I wouldn't have the cajones to pull it off, I can do a wicked stink eye!)

                                                1. re: monavano
                                                  iL Divo RE: monavano May 25, 2011 08:24 PM

                                                  ^^^i needed a good laugh^^^ mona

                                                2. re: beevod
                                                  Harters RE: beevod May 23, 2011 08:42 AM

                                                  Do that at my table and too right the police are going to need to be called.

                                                  1. re: Harters
                                                    Bill Hunt RE: Harters Jul 13, 2011 07:26 PM

                                                    I agree completely.

                                                    It should be the restaurant's responsibility to gently ease diners from tables. For a diner to show up at mine, and there might be heck to pay.

                                                    This can be an issue, but a professional restaurant operation should have a Plan B, and a Plan C, and should be able to make all patrons feel good about things.

                                                    There are correct, and incorrect ways to handle this. A good restaurant should be able to do it, and never miss a beat.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                      bobbert RE: Bill Hunt Jul 14, 2011 09:46 AM

                                                      The only problem with a plan B or C is when you're dealing with a small place. Larger restaurants with bars have "the dessert at the bar" option. Some leave a certain number of tables for walk in's which gives some flexibility with seating those with reservatiions but whose predessors might be hanging out longer than expected. Smaller places without bars don't have these options and are generally working at the margins where, if they don't turn the table twice a night, they eventually go out of business. Everyone who has worked in the business and most hounds (I expect more from us) should be aware of such things and act accordingly. The unwashed masses? Maybe not. (Only kidding about the unwashed masses as I probably belong to that group). Generally speaking (there are always exceptions) when the train or bus hits the last stop, the ride is over and you get off. You don't hang in the plane at the gate when everyone else leaves. When the credits run out at the movie, it's time to get up and go. When coffee and dessert and maybe a port are done, so is dinner.

                                                  2. re: beevod
                                                    MRS RE: beevod May 25, 2011 03:31 PM

                                                    I swear to God that I would fully lose my mind on anyone who would ever dare do that to me. (Then again, I would have lost it regarding standing around for an hour watching someone sip coffee while I starved, but that's a different thing altogether.) There is no question that if someone approached me while I was dining to tell me to get up- there would be a very serious problem.
                                                    If you go to a restaurant with very limited seating, which is what I think is the case in this instance, then you have to suck it up and be prepared to wait and salivate. I have done it at some of my favorites- not liked it, but done it- when it became apparent that the way they thought the dining room would turn over in a way that it didn't.
                                                    Beevod- good thing we've never crossed paths...:)

                                                    1. re: beevod
                                                      Charles Robinson RE: beevod Jul 29, 2011 07:17 AM

                                                      I wouldn't be so abrupt, but I would have no problem doing that in principle. I would hope someone would do the same for me if I were being so unaware.

                                                    2. l
                                                      LeoLioness RE: bonnienola May 24, 2011 09:44 AM

                                                      I'm in the "it's rude to linger during primetime dinner service" camp. If you want to do so, move it to somewhere more conducive to this, like the bar or perhaps a cafe in Paris. Ordering dinner doesn't buy you a table for the evening.

                                                      1. KaimukiMan RE: bonnienola May 24, 2011 01:18 PM

                                                        it is an exceptional restaurant with an exceptional reputation (although getitng more and more disgruntled comments in various venues including chowhound.) it really won't matter to them for a long time if no one ever returns, there are hundreds more waiting to try the place. Traditionally in America in a fine dining restaurant, patrons do have the right to sit there till the cleaning crew comes in, although the restaurant has the right to kick them out for any reason.

                                                        Nor do we know the reason they were sitting there for so long. The site of their engagement many years ago? One of them to undergo a dangerous procedure on the operating table in the morning? The other about to leave for an overseas job that will keep them separated for many months? A reunion after many months apart? Who knows. Yes, they should have realized that they were causing undue delay. But there are rare moments when that is understandable, and we need to give them the benefit of the doubt.

                                                        The restaurant would have been "more wrong" to ask them to leave than it was in asking the other party to wait. It should have done everything in it's power to seat the waiting party as soon as possible, failing that done whatever they could to make the wait as pleasant as possible. From what I read, they did what could be reasonably expected.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                          invinotheresverde RE: KaimukiMan May 24, 2011 07:37 PM

                                                          Americans have many "rights". Yes, technically, a guest could stay from opening until close. That doesn't mean it's proper decorum. Same goes for this situation. Unless one is completely self-absorbed, one notices when a restaurant is busy and when it is not. When it's busy, taking an hour for coffee (in a place that only has 10ish tables, mind you). is the mark of a real asshole.

                                                          And yes, there could have been some "important" reason these guests needed their table for so long. Or, there wasn't. It doesn't matter. Rude is rude. You've finished your meal? It's time to go. There are lots of places made for hanging out, like bars and coffee shops. Go there.

                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                            Karl S RE: invinotheresverde May 25, 2011 05:53 AM

                                                            I think you are being too kind to the campers....

                                                        2. rockandroller1 RE: bonnienola May 25, 2011 01:30 PM

                                                          Table-campers are rude, and there's no good way to deal with campers, as someone always gets offended. The only people who DON'T think they are rude are those who participate in the behavior.

                                                          If I were the management, I'd have politely asked them if they wanted to take coffee in the bar as another party had been waiting an hour past their reservation time for that table. If the original party were offended, as someone else pointed out, there's hundreds of other people wanting to dine there, including the OP who deserves a chance to do so at or near their desired time.

                                                          1. j
                                                            Jase RE: bonnienola May 25, 2011 02:41 PM

                                                            My wedding rehearsal dinner story about being affected by campers and how it was absolutely handled wrong by management.


                                                            1. d
                                                              deroumanie RE: bonnienola May 25, 2011 02:47 PM

                                                              I think it is the responsibility of the restaurant to make sure that a table is free for reservations when they are made. It is in no way the obligation of the diners to finish before they are ready simply because the host didn't fulfill their job requirement. It's also childish and selfish to want someone to move just because it's "your turn". They are your equal patrons and you would feel absolutely disappointed if the situation was reversed, to be sushed away.

                                                              12 Replies
                                                              1. re: deroumanie
                                                                cowboyardee RE: deroumanie May 25, 2011 02:51 PM

                                                                "They are your equal patrons and you would feel absolutely disappointed if the situation was reversed, to be sushed away."

                                                                The OP and those of us who are saying it's rude to sit over coffee for an hour while others are waiting for their table... probably don't sit over coffee for an hour while others are waiting. It's hard for the situation to be reversed.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                  deroumanie RE: cowboyardee May 25, 2011 03:01 PM

                                                                  All people have a right to go to a restaurant and fully enjoy their meal, desserts, and coffee at their leisure. Since we have no idea what the situation was, and why they decided to stay longer into the night we should not judge them. Like I said before, it is the responsibility of the host to make sure that the a reservation is seated within an appropriate time frame. Having worked as one, I know how easy it can be to coordinate a busy night if extra effort and time is given when seating patrons. There is no need to be in a constant rush. Food is meant to be enjoyed. It isn't a marathon.

                                                                  1. re: deroumanie
                                                                    cowboyardee RE: deroumanie May 25, 2011 03:39 PM

                                                                    We're not talking about being rushed out the door as soon as you're done the last bite of dessert. We're talking about an hour spent sipping coffee.

                                                                    But you think that once you eat a meal, the table is yours for as long as you want. So two hours over coffee is also reasonable? How about 4? The restaurant has turned their tables twice as you've been sipping at your 8 top, other patrons with their own reservations and their own important occasions crowding the hostess desk. You think you heard one group leave angrily. At some point, this doesn't become rude?

                                                                    The right you speak of doesn't exist.

                                                                    1. re: deroumanie
                                                                      LeoLioness RE: deroumanie May 25, 2011 05:35 PM

                                                                      I am still trying to think of a legitimate reason why camping at the table, during dinner service, is acceptable. So yeah, I'll judge the entitled people who for some reason decided it's their "right" to be so self-absorbed.

                                                                      1. re: deroumanie
                                                                        iL Divo RE: deroumanie May 25, 2011 08:30 PM


                                                                    2. re: deroumanie
                                                                      invinotheresverde RE: deroumanie May 25, 2011 03:21 PM

                                                                      And how, praytell, do you expect restaurants to do that? There are two solutions and none are very business- or customer-friendly.

                                                                      They can offer two seatings per night only, usually 6:00 and 8:30 in my area. If you want to eat at 7:00? You're shit out of luck. You're a walk-in diner? Come back at 8:30 for the next seating, or you're shit out of luck. Or:

                                                                      Book reservations three+ hours apart to ensure each guest has a designated table. If that happens, good luck ever getting a reservation again, as there will be far fewer up for grabs. Also, many restaurants won't do enough volume to stay open, so there will be far fewer places to eat. Again, you're shit out of luck. And even still, it's no guarantee you won't have to wait. Say the diners at "your" table want a four hour dinner? You guessed it, you're shit out of luck.

                                                                      The best way for things to run smoothly is that everyone respects each other. When you're on your second cup of coffee, for example, you realize your meal has finished and there are others waiting for your table. Don't be a jerk and hang out just because you CAN. There's a difference between making diners finish "before they are ready" and trying to move along a table that's been done for an hour. Please tell me you comprehend that.

                                                                      I don't think you really understand how restaurants work. Can you please explain to me how the host should have handled the situation? There's no magical solution to this problem, other than common courtesy and respect for those waiting. We've all had to wait before. It sucks.

                                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                        deroumanie RE: invinotheresverde May 25, 2011 03:40 PM

                                                                        Actually one of the easiest way to determine how long a table will take is simply asking them while they are making the reservation, or walking into the restaurant, if it is a special occasion. Based on their answer take a quick glance at your scheduler and see if there is enough time to begin with. Many restaurants have tables designated for this purpose alone. And usually tables for parties of 6 or more are reserved AN HOUR to AN HOUR and a HALF in advance of when their supposed to come in. (That literally means the slot is left open for 3 hours.) If there isn't--explain to them that if they really wish to eat there at that specific hour that their time at the table will be limited due to overlaps. Most people when they are aware of the situation BEFORE hand are courteous enough to keep the situation in mind. Restaurant have been made famous due to their tight reservations and great food. If your not trying to run a fast food join then it shouldn't be a problem to begin with. When it comes down to it what happened is the hosts and restaurants fault. They should have a system in place for dealing with a crowded night when they only have 12 tables! Do they accept walk-ins? What if someone is over 10 minutes late on a busy night, big parties always receive a little courtesy. They should have a full kitchen staff to make sure that food is prepared quickly as well. Plainly put this isn't the diners' fault regardless of what angle you wish to see it from.

                                                                        1. re: deroumanie
                                                                          deroumanie RE: deroumanie May 25, 2011 03:54 PM

                                                                          P.S. A good host or waitress never points to a table and says "it's late". Why would you deliberately pin customers against each other?!

                                                                          1. re: deroumanie
                                                                            Karl S RE: deroumanie May 25, 2011 04:36 PM

                                                                            No, it's no less the campers' fault.

                                                                            1. re: deroumanie
                                                                              alanbarnes RE: deroumanie May 25, 2011 06:10 PM

                                                                              Sorry, but you're wrong.

                                                                              The vast majority of restaurants **do** have a system in place for making sure tables are available for guests who have reserved them. It's called "turn time." Different places use different turn times, based on the maximum amount of time a party of a given size will reasonably need the table, plus a little extra time built in.

                                                                              The problem with this system is that it relies on people being reasonable. The campers in the OP were acting unreasonably, and it seriously disrupted the restaurant's schedule.

                                                                              In a place with a two-hour turn, it's expected that a 6:00 reservation will vacate the table by 7:45 or so, which makes it available for an 8:00 reservation. It is unreasonable for that party to finish dessert at 7:30 but linger over coffee until 9:30; because a restaurant that is fully booked cannot magically make tables appear, there is simply no place to seat patrons when they arrive for their 8:00 reservation.

                                                                              Although the turn time is different for different places, it is basic courtesy for diners to respect the needs of others and not camp at a table. If you want to linger over coffee, pick a place that has a single seating or make a late reservation. Otherwise, finish up and adjourn to the lounge, already.

                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                Missmoo RE: alanbarnes May 26, 2011 09:51 AM

                                                                                What alanbarnes said!

                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                  emilyjh75 RE: alanbarnes Aug 29, 2011 08:16 AM


                                                                          2. c
                                                                            Charles Robinson RE: bonnienola Jul 29, 2011 07:33 AM

                                                                            I'm baffled how the restaurant could let this happen. I don't think it is the least bit rude to say "Excuse me, I'm sorry but this table has another reservation that is waiting to be seated."

                                                                            It does require tact and finesse, though. I went to a hibachi restaurant for a friend's birthday and there were ten of us taking up an entire hibachi grill. When dinner finished someone in our group tried to order more drinks and was told in broken English "No. You done now. You leave." I understood the waitress' intent, but it came out incredibly brusque due to the language barrier. It took me several minutes to smooth the ruffled feathers but we moved to the bar and had a fun time.

                                                                            1. j
                                                                              josephnl RE: bonnienola Aug 4, 2011 04:05 PM

                                                                              This is a tough one, but I can tell you about a restaurant that handled it extraordinarily well...when I was the offending party! Many years ago, I met up with a friend in Paris who I had not seen in some time, and we arranged to have dinner at the Michelin starred restaurant at the Plaza Athenee Hotel. We had a wonderful dinner, spent hours reminiscing, and over multiple cups of coffee and glasses of wine, clearly stayed too long. Finally, the Maitre D' came over to our table and with extraordinary gentility asked us if we wouldn't mind too much finishing our visit over cognac, coffee and petite fours (gratuitous, of course) at a table in an adjacent foyer that had been set up for us. We gladly obliged...and they took wonderful care of us at the new table. Classy!!!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: josephnl
                                                                                Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Aug 29, 2011 08:41 PM

                                                                                A wonderful, and accommodating gesture (to all involved).

                                                                                Nice touch, and similar to what we encountered at Gordon Ramsay's Maze in Mayfair, on a busy night. Though not "starred," it was a nice touch, and greatly appreciated.


                                                                              2. PotatoHouse RE: bonnienola Aug 29, 2011 03:19 AM

                                                                                I didn't read this entire thread, did anyone establish just WHY the OP had to have that particular table? You can not convince me that No OTHER table came open while they were waiting for that certain table.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: PotatoHouse
                                                                                  iluvcookies RE: PotatoHouse Aug 29, 2011 09:40 AM

                                                                                  Apparantly this is a very, very tiny place with 10 tables. I thought the exact thing you did.

                                                                                2. e
                                                                                  emilyjh75 RE: bonnienola Aug 29, 2011 08:25 AM

                                                                                  I agree with the "rude campers" crowd. Same goes for people who come into a restaurant 5 minutes before closing, order everything off the grill, then hang out for two hours while the employees are looking at not getting home until 4 am (after closing and cleaning). It's absolutely rude to a) not be aware of your surroundings, and b) not be mindful of other people in any case. Unless you're in a bar in the middle of the desert, and there's nowhere else to go (and even then, I'm inclined to let others have a turn and take my convo out to the car), it is incumbent upon all persons to be thoughtful of others coming after. This world would be a lot more pleasant if more people took more thought to how what they do affects other people.

                                                                                  OP - from what I understand, the size of the restaurant and the size of your party would probably almost guarantee a wait, at most times. I might suggest leaving such a small establishment for a smaller party, or a less-busy hour. You don't have to give up on the restaurant entirely, but perhaps be more judicious about when to patronize it.

                                                                                  1. f
                                                                                    feelinpeckish RE: bonnienola Aug 31, 2011 12:23 PM

                                                                                    A few years ago dining out with a few family members the after dinner chat just went on such that we just lost track of the filling up of the other tables. We had no intention of stretching out our time at table but non the less that is what happened. The owner approached us and offered a cocktail at the bar so we could continue our get together and in the process free up the table for other waiting diners. I thought that was a very good and tactful solution even though we did not take him up on the offer and merely left as we had not intended to overstay and cause a problem.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: feelinpeckish
                                                                                      josephnl RE: feelinpeckish Aug 31, 2011 01:52 PM

                                                                                      Same idea as what I reported above had happened to us in Paris. There definitely is an acceptable and tactful way for a busy restaurant to handle guests who stay too long at their table. But...this has to be applied very judiciously. You cannot cut short a reasonably relaxed and prolonged meal...it must only be done when guests are obviously grossly overstaying their welcome.

                                                                                    2. Phood RE: bonnienola Sep 5, 2011 08:01 PM

                                                                                      Curious, and I don't think it has been mentioned:
                                                                                      Did the restaurant have no other 6 tops, allowing them to shift others back slightly, or was there only one physical table that could accomodate? Were there no smaller tables that could have been consolidated? Were there available solutions other than rushing the "camping" party?
                                                                                      It sounds as if the restaurant was attached to the one specific table for one party. A system that can improvise, adapt, and overcome will create fewer outcomes such as yours and threads such as this
                                                                                      Just my $.02

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