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Oct 15, 2011 01:03 AM

Reservation confirmed but table not ready - how long have you waited?

Recent experience where I booked a table for 8:30pm on a Friday night. They rang me the day before to confirm, which I did. I rang them back the night of the dinner at 7:45pm to ask about dietary restrictions and during the conversation, they re-confirmed that the table would be ready for 8:30pm.

My party and I show up for 8:30pm but the table was not ready. We then waited 40 minutes before being seated. This is unacceptable and I would have happily taken them elsewhere except one of the guests was from out of town and really wanted to try this particular place (celebrity chef etc) so we stayed.

I have never had to wait so long for a reserved table. What has everyone else experienced? Is there a polite way to complain to the manager in this type of situation?

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  1. My standard is that I'll wait 20 minutes and no longer. I recognise that a table cannot be forced to leave for the next party, but management could try to move them along. That said, my standard applies to me and my family, I we have guests, I consult them as to how long they are willing to wait for the table and agree to their decision.

    BUT>>before walking, one must calculate how long it will take to get to the next restaurant and when one might be seated. There may be no time gain in such a move.

    Chances are, I'd cross restaurant #1 off my future dining list.

    1. It's very rare that I've ever had to wait for a reserved table. And, then, only ever a few minutes - usually with an apology that they are just resetting the table.

      1. I think 15-20 minutes is o.k or acceptable. After that point there should be something comped, IMHO. We once waited an hour and would have gone somewhere else but couldn't get in anywhere. We complained at 25-30 minutes to the completely clueless hostess. Finally I went up and complained and told them that if they wanted us to eat there they were going to waive corkage and comp the drinks we'd had while waiting. They did that and I complained later via e-mail to the manager and she comped our next meal there. So, in that case, they really tried to make it up to us. We've been back because of that otherwise I'd never go back.

        I also don't like the "wait in the bar and have a glass of wine" game. I like to drink as much as the next guy and I don't mind 5 minutes. But when that little game turns into 20 I get a little pissed.

        1 Reply
        1. re: HoosierFoodie

          I was going to comment but then I read the rest of your description of the event;)

        2. I'm sure I've waited at least half an hour but that was under pretty unusual circumstances on a night when there was a big festival going on and the place had the best location in town. I must admit I never expect to be comped anything. If I am, it is a pleasant surprise.

          1 Reply
          1. re: escondido123

            Sorry. I was unclear. I complained again after 25-30. Weren't seated for another 25-30.

          2. Things do go wrong. I would be curious to know how management/hostess managed the situation.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sandylc

              In this instance, the hostess decided to do nothing as there were some open tables and there were several groups waiting. Now, they might not have filled the open tables because they didn't have the staff to serve them. I don't know what the situation was but there was no explanation other than "it will be a few more minutes". We weren't looking for comps but it was a Saturday night and our options were limited.

              1. re: HoosierFoodie

                A good host/hostess can make or break a dining room. They can double/triple seat servers putting them and the kitchen in the weeds - you may often see empty tables while you wait because of this. If orders for apps came into the kitchen at the same time for the ENTIRE restaurant for example, the kitchen would probably crash with just about everyone being unhappy (this is why bigger parties, weddings, etc. have a set menu and are rarely allowed to just order off the regular menu - the kitchen can have all the dishes prepped beforehand so they're ready).
                Now with that being said, I have seen more than my share of host/hostesses whose main qualification sometimes appears to be how good they may look in a tight shirt or way too short skirt and who seem to have little mastery of customer service or how to properly seat a restaurant. The best ones try to become a server so they can make some real money. The tight shirt/short skirt can be nice to look at as long as there is some adult supervision nearby that can keep things moving along. Before you guys rightfully attack me - I have seen many attractive host/hostesses who do a very good job as well:)

                1. re: bobbert

                  bobbert is spot on about the need for front of house to be aware of the needs of the kitchen and to space out reservation times with that in mind. One smallish place near me will not take reservations for more than a couple of tables at the same time and will space others at 15 minute intervals.