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May 20, 2011 08:24 PM

after meal etiquette

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. 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

      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

        ...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

          "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

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

      2. 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. 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

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

          2. 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

              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

                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. 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.