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Forced to Rush Through Dinner at Pomegranate (moved from Ontario board)

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[NOTE FROM THE MODERATORS: even though the original post is about a local Toronto restaurant, all the replies are a discussion about the restaurant's behavior and etiquette, so we've moved it over here to the Not About Food board.]

We arranged a long-overdue reunion/dinner for five last Friday. This was for a dear group of friends, and I wanted everything to be just right, so I suggested Pomegranate, which has long been one of my favourite restaurants. It didn't take much convincing, as I've raved about the food there off and on for so long, and all of my friends were eager to try it. It's been a while - over a year - since I'd been there, but I only have good memories of eating there, and one of my Iranian friends agrees it's very good.

We made a reservation for five at 5:00, and were told we could have the table only until 7:15.

Four of us arrived between 5:00 and 5:30, but got the bad news that our fifth person was delayed at work and might come late, or not at all. This is when the problem started. The woman serving us (who I believe is the owner or owner's wife) said the two extra seats at our table were needed, and she wanted to move us to a table for four. We said the fifth person might still show up, but she said we couldn't have the extra seats if not, because the restaurant does fill up and it would mean her having to turn people away. I've worked in restaurants before, and I do understand this situation, but she was not very accommodating and there was an unpleasant tension over it.

Note: I found out later from my friend who made the reservation that the person on the phone had said we could have a table for four with a fifth seat on the end, or a table for six. As it's getting colder and everyone has heavier coats, naturally we'd asked for a table for six, as the extra seat would come in handy for coats and bags. But if filling to capacity is such an issue, why were we given a choice? I did notice that the restaurant did indeed fill up, and one couple was turned away.

We did finally get confirmation that our fifth person was on his way, and he showed up at 6:30. The poor guy had to order in a hurry and then wolf down his food - including receiving his dessert (saffron ice cream, which I've been raving about ever since I first had it at Pomegranate) at the same time as his main course.

We did manage to finish our meal by 7:15, although we had to really rush through dessert. By then, half of the restaurant had cleared and there was no sign of a second wave of diners. We were sitting at the back, and the entire row of tables on our side of the restaurant were now empty. But here's the kicker: as we were now relaxing and talking, our server comes by again and reminds us that the table has to be vacated by 7:15. With half the tables empty, we're still being rushed out?

I do have to say that the food did not disappoint. It was even better than I'd remembered; every mouthful was delicious. But the unpleasantness over the seating issue had me nervously watching the table occupancy the whole time I was eating, and the tension between the server and my friends didn't help. I saw one of my friends the following morning and found that she, too, had been left with a sour taste in her mouth from the whole experience. Granted, two+ hours should normally be ample for finishing a meal, but there was no attempt to accommodate our problematic circumstances.

So, dear foodies:
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? One of my friends recounted a similar experience elsewhere recently, of being given a deadline for vacating her table. Is this becoming the norm? Will you go to Pomegranate if you expect to be rushed?

As much as I *loved* the food, I don't think I will return.

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    1. Mountain out of a mountain. If the place had been bursting to the seams with people, I *might* grudgingly understand, but if the dining room is half empty, there's not much excuse. That plus the attitude you got from whomever-she-was was over the line, too.

      Because you have a long history of satisfaction with the place, though, a letter/email/phone call to the owner might be in place -- that you like the place, but you won't be back, and here's why.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sunshine842

        Thanks - I did look for an email before I posted here, but there is none. I do intend to write a letter.

      2. I can see where you are coming from especially since I got a bad vibe from who I think you are talking about before (if it is the same person, the lady and the chef in the kitchen are husband and wife and owners). I only have eaten there once and while I enjoyed the food we were also in a group (of about 6 people) and I found that she wasn't all that pleasant/patient with regards to explaining dishes/etc. An Iranian friend loves the places and goes there all of the time so I assumed it was a one off bad day for this lady and I am open to going again.

        From the perspective of the restaurant they did give you a time frame and it was accepted before hand... It gets complicated to set up these group outings I know, but, I understand where the restaurant is coming from. Some restaurants won't even give you the table until the full party is there. However, if it was indeed empty and they weren't expecting other people (they could have said we have another group coming in at 7:30 or whatever) then they could have left you to relax/chat for a bit (unless you guys were loud and obnoxious ;) )..

        1. While the staff didn't handle the situation very gracefully, your reservation was for 5 and the bulk of your party didn't arrive until 5:30. Had your whole party arrived on time as per your reservation, time would never have been an issue.

          That said, the staff handled the situation terribly.

          1. Mountain out of a molehill. The place gets busy, they have to manage to previous experience, and only 80% of your group was present 30 minutes after your reservation. While the hostess could've been warmer and more accommodating, you could've helped yourselves by all being present at the agreed upon time. Your problems aren't theirs.

            4 Replies
            1. re: GoodGravy

              so they told you they needed the table by 7:15, your party straggled in late, with the last member finally arriving 1.5 hours after the reservation. they still managed to serve you in 45 minutes, and then had the gall to ask you to clear out at the time you originally agreed upon? the bstrds!

              i agree that it could have been handled better, but they likely had a second seating that they had to prepare for and they are well within their rights to ask for the table at the agreed upon time. if i was in your position, i would have been embarrassed by my friends who were so late. i get that it happens, but the restaurant is trying to operate a business and you are making it infinitely more difficult for them to do so when you don't show up on time...think about how mad people get when they show up on time for their reservation and the restaurant is running behind...because of other people who are late

              1. re: downtownfoodie

                This is a common problem - people show up late, expecting all others to wait for their "grand entrance". The late person should have had the good graces to call and tell those waiting to go ahead and eat without him. Failing that, the person who organized the event should have had the sense, after a 15 minute grace period, to simply start and let the late-comer suffer the consequences. Not the resto's fault!

                1. re: gttahaveit

                  It wasn't just one latecomer, the rest of the party arrived between 5-5:30 for a 5 reservation, half an hour late is already ridiculous. I just cannot believe the OP didn't even acknowledge or didn't see a problem with the bulk of the group arriving late. Also, the latecomer was an hour and half late and you waited. This is ridiculous and I can't properly judge the service because of all this. It's because of parties like this that so many restaurants don't take reservations anymore.

                  As far as the restaurant, if you didn't like the fact that you'd have to be rushed out at 7:15, why eat there?

              2. re: GoodGravy

                I agree with this. If you have a reservation at a certain time your entire party should be there. If someone is going to be that last they either should pass on the dinner or expect to be rushed. If one expects the restaurant to properly hold a reservation the customer needs to do the same.

                I would agree that the restaurant could have handled it better.

              3. As the restaurant sat empty at 7:15 or half empty as the case may be-did you ask if they had to ready the space for possible large group that was coming in at say 8pm? There may have been other reasons that were not communicated to you why they may need to free up the space. That said....they weren't hospitable and for whatever the reason it wasn't handled exceptionally well.

                1. I don' t think it's fair to be annoyed that they did originally offer you the table for 6, but were less willing to accommodate that when you only had 4 people, with the 5th possibly not coming at all and eventually showing up 1.5 hours late. The lesson for the restaurant there is to not offer you the table for 6 in the first place, basically "assume the worst" about your reservation, which isn't fair to other patrons. Also if this was such a special, long overdue event for you, why the tardiness? You can't expect the restaurant to take you more seriously than you take yourselves.

                  For this type of gathering (people coming and going basically when they please and wanting to linger at the table), I really think pubs are more suitable than restaurants. Or maybe a neighbourhood restaurant that does not get busy, where you are a regular and you know the pace/vibe supports this kind of thing. I also hate being rushed over brunch, dinner whatever but I have come to accept that most of Toronto just doesn't accommodate the relaxed group meal these days. And these places still struggle to survive even turning tables the way they do.

                  1. Thanks for the replies and feedback. I neglected to mention one thing: we did not wait for the member of our group who was very late. We went ahead and ordered, and he ordered on his own once he arrived and had to rush a bit to finish. There was no waiting for someone to make a "grand entrance".

                    I've given this a lot of thought over the week and considered the comments here. I've also realized that customer service is perhaps more important to me than some; in my day job I spend a good deal of my time trying to accommodate clients with problems and difficult circumstances. With some thought and care, I find there is usually a win-win situation. I treat my clients with respect, without exception. People tend to appreciate a merchant who at least demonstrates an attempt to help them out.

                    Again, if Pomegranate is so busy that they have to limit people's visits, then they should seat a party of five at a table for five, not six. If they are going to give us a choice, they shouldn't be giving us a hassle. That was a strategic error on their part.

                    If my friend had not shown up at all, then the restaurant would have been well justified in being annoyed at the lost business, but that is not what happened. We quickly verified that he was coming, told the server, and were finished dinner in the allotted time. By then, one side of the restaurant was empty from - our table near the back right to the front window, and no, it was not reserved for a large party to come; the tables were simply re-set in twos and fours. The server's choice to then hassle us was unnecessary, and to me, clearly vindictive as our situation had annoyed her. It is with this final act of disrespect that I have a problem.

                    There is a clear difference between service without a smile - often encountered when servers are short-staffed and run off their feet - and unnecessarily treating your customers rudely. I notice many people on this board are willing to forgive the former in return for exceptional food; I sometimes do. But the latter I will not tolerate.

                    No restaurant is obliged to make an effort to accommodate a customers problems, but some do. I won't demand that of Pomegranate. But along those lines, I have recommended Pomegranate to many of my friends - something I am under no obligation to do. I won't be doing that any more - nor will I return.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: bink

                      Since when did making a dinner reservation become making a formal business contract? When a person makes a reservation, they’re not negotiating a lease. They’re not taking on the business role of a lessee with its (possibly) negotiated responsibilities of move-in time, move-out time, number of tenants, etc. It seems that at least 5 of the respondents (ylsf, sloweater, GoodGravy, downtownfoodie, julesrules) to the OP suggest just that.

                      IMO, a reservation is a kindness or thoughtfulness that restaurant-goers offer freely to the restaurant. The fact that many restaurants request reservations is somewhat akin to requesting a present, in other words, a reversal of the original transaction. To the extent that many restaurants require reservations formalizes that reversal. Which is unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because it points to a model of society that’s becoming increasingly enacted: the business model. Sure, a restaurant is a business... but it’s their business, not mine as a restaurant-goer. Part of running a business is dealing with what happens on a day-to-day basis. Naturally, savvy business operators will try to anticipate what those happenings may be and plan accordingly. But to enforce customer participation in this action is putting a business responsibility on the customer that is not the customers’.

                      The more regularly restaurant-goers are persuaded by restaurant owners/managers into participating in this business model in which the customer bears responsibility, and the more regularly a customer cedes to that model, the more business-like, the more lease-like, the restaurant experience will become. Hence, the more business modelled our non-business experiences (such as eating at restaurants) become and the more naturalized that model becomes.

                      Which may not be a problem for some (the 5 above-mentioned, perhaps?) but it is a problem for me... and I think it might have been the problem the OP was describing.

                      So, bink, I wouldn’t go back, either. And I want to thank you for choosing not to go back, too.

                      1. re: crowbar

                        having the ability to look at this from both sides I would say mountain. First off a reservation gives you a space for x hours, it's the same as making an appointment at your doctor, you wouldn't dare show up to your appointment at the dentist 30 minutes late. or say your massage therapist. The restaurant industry is the only one I know of where reservations, or appointments as they are, are taking so lightly. People make reservations for 10, the restaurant sets aside tables, spaces, waiters, x dishes etc then nobody shows up, Oh sure maybe the restaurant could fill those seats, but then again maybe they wouldn't. I rarely go to restaurants that don't make a reservation as the drive for me to find out I can't get a table is too much. Now to be fair, I hold restaurants to the same standards as I do my dentist or doctor, I reserve that time for me, to eat, the spot better be ready regardless of who had the reservation before me. If they were late, I just don't care, that's not my problem, it's theirs, figure out a way deal with it.. And before you ask yes, I do require that my dentists and doctors either inform me that they will be late so I can rebook, or I make them discount the service they are giving me, exactly the same thing I would expect a restaurant to do.

                      2. re: bink

                        As crappy as the service was, it could be one of those places who purposely acted rude because they did not want your group to return. That's crappy service.

                        That said....
                        "I treat my clients with respect"
                        Does that mean showing up half an hour late and not even acknowledging that half an hour late is LATE. I'm sorry you don't show up at 5:30 for a 5 reservation and not expect some changes. Or does your definition of late only mean 1.5 hours or more? Sorry it's still bugging me that so few people have mentioned this.

                        Bottom line, everyone here was rude and I'm being rude so I better get off this thread.

                      3. If I was in that situation, when the 5th person phoned and said they were delayed for an unknown length of time and might or might not make it I would have said "Sorry you can't make it. See you next time", accepted the table for 4 and made the best out of a dinner which had been foreshortened by my own tardiness.

                        I've been to Pomegranate a couple of times and I agree that the owner can be a bit awkward and cool towards customers. But when faced with 2 empty seats, one of which may or may not be filled, while they're turning people away, I don't think it was unreasonable for them to ask you to move to a table for 4.

                        1. I think there are a few issues here. The restaurant was right in letting you know they would need the table at 7:15 presumably because they would normally expect other patrons with reservations at around that time and all you need do is read this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/812420 to find out the opinions of fellow CHers if they might have to wait 15 minutes or more for their reserved table.
                          Second issue is the late arrival and the chair situation. The chair part is just bizarre. The late arrival rightfully was pretty much left to fend for himself which is fine. I've had one or more of my grown up yet still irresponsible children show up late on occasion. If it's 15 minutes or less and a valid reason, we've ordered for them after a short discreet cellphone call, otherwise they've ended up with coffee and dessert.
                          The issue of more or less kicking you out of a half empty restaurant because your time has expired - now that's just stupid from almost anyway you look at it. They're not getting more business but are managing to piss off a customer(s). Restaurants as a rule do not want the place empty. It's not good for walk in business. Rarely have I seen an empty place and thought to myself " gee, this place must be really good". The only person who could be hurt is a server who needs tables turning for their tips. This part of the story is where I'd be pissed off too. I hate stupidity for the sake of stupidity.

                          1. I just reread the OP and see that it said the reservation was for 5 and "Four of us arrived between 5:00 and 5:30." It sounds to me like you were a pretty lackadaisical group who considered 5pm as a suggestion. You were told when you booked that you could have the table until 7:15; that was the time to decide if it would work for you. I have the feeling you took the early table thinking you could "extend" your stay. I think you were treated appropriately.

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: escondido123


                              Ugh. This is an exact reason why working in a restaurant can be a pain in the ass sometimes. You literally want to wring some customers' necks. Even some of the "on time" part of the group was a half hour late. The last person should have opted not to come. He was an hour and a half late. "Poor guy"? It's his own fault. Was the restaurant supposed to give you extra time, possibly holding up later, on time reservations because some schmoe didn't have enough tact to bow out gracefully?

                              As far as asking you to leave, you said you were seated at a table for 6 and that the other tables were set up for 2s and 4s. Was your table a 2 and a 4 pushed together or was it an actual table for 6? If the latter, there are likely only a few of them in the restuarant and it was needed for a 7:30 rez.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                I've also worked in restaurants and the extra person that is 'on his way' is a total pain. You don't know what to do as their server because the patrons also don't know what to do, how much longer will the extra person be? The server has to serve that table multiple times for drinks, refills, taking orders, bringing food, checking back and so on. I totally see why most places will not seat incomplete parties.

                                1. re: smartie

                                  And I wouldn't be surprised if there were multiple cell phone calls, people taking off hats and coats again and again, just generally making a fuss that could have been avoided if folks just showed up when they said they would.

                                  1. re: escondido123

                                    Wow - this thread has taken on a whole new life. Suddenly, we're all arriving late, making a commotion, disturbing other diners with our coats, and making multiple cell phone calls. Nice imagination.

                                    Once again, the restaurant gave us a *choice* between a table for five (which would have avoided this entire controversy) and a table for six. We caused no fuss, communicated with the 5th person via text and were fairly quickly able to tell our server that we would indeed need the fifth seat, were all present (i.e., using five seats) by the time the restaurant had to turn one couple away, and were finished eating by the 7:15 deadline. It was with the restaurant half-empty and no sign of a further dinner rush that we were asked to leave.

                                    If you enjoy poor customer service, you're welcome to it.

                                    1. re: bink

                                      There's really no need to be snippy because some posters think you're at least partially in the wrong.

                                      You were the one who said the 4 of you arrived up until 5:30. Correct?
                                      You were seated and served even though you were incomplete.
                                      They served your late guest.
                                      Your food was wonderful.

                                      I'm not sure I understand where there was "poor customer service". The restaurant lived up to its part of the bargain. You apparently wanted a favor and they didn't grant it. Then you come here and trash them. Is it possible you're being a bit irrational, melodramatic and self-entitled? The only reason there was a problem is because your guest was late. If anything, you should be upset with him.

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        Escondido's post speculates on things which we should be blamed for which didn't happen.

                                        And once again, my problem is with the server's vindictive attitude, which is never warranted. Of all the replies here, no one has justified her behaviour.

                                        The truth is, life happens. Who among us has never been late? The situation was unavoidable, and as stated more than once, we didn't ask for special treatment. If the restaurant is experienced, they should know enough not to seat a part of five at a table for six - and then cause a fuss. And inexperience I can forgive - vindictive rudeness not so much.

                                        1. re: bink

                                          So wait, are you upset about the seating situation or about being rushed? Because according to the title of your post, you're upset about being rushed. Now it sounds like you're angry that they wanted your extra chairs. I'm confused.

                                          Also, could you please explain the vindictive attitude? She wanted the extra chairs, one of which was attached to no one and the other for a guest who "might" show up. How is that vindictive? Or was it because she reminded you they needed the table? Was she rude? Did she tell you to get out? They told you when you made your rez that they needed the table by 7:15. That means they need the table by 7:15. They don't have to explain why. By accepting the reservation, you accept the time limit.

                                          1. re: bink

                                            I have definitely been late. And If I'm going to be five minutes late for a restaurant reservation I call. Did you? I'm curious why you feel arriving at a restaurant a half hour late is no big deal.

                                            1. re: bink

                                              Yes, I speculated based upon your post that said people arrived over a half hour period, there were lots of coats etc involved, there was someone who might or might not show up. I've been in situations like yours in restaurants and though I thought nobody noticed, everybody did. If you went through all of this without disturbing the place, I retract my speculation.

                                    2. re: invinotheresverde

                                      From what I remember, they are all deuces pushed together. In any event, a party of six could have been seated anywhere in the half-empty restaurant at 7:30.

                                      1. re: bink

                                        Were you still there at 7:30? Seems fishy that an extremely popular restaurant that had to turn people away at the earlier, usually less popular times would've had so few diners at the most popular dining time.

                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                          We walked out the door right around 7:15 - as a result of the request that we do so. There were no new customers in sight.

                                          If there *had* been a sudden rush, we could have easily gotten up and left immediately. This is why I find the server's behaviour so inappropriate.

                                          1. re: bink

                                            Maybe the tables were reserved for 8pm and they were trying to give a cusion of time, should your party camp out? Honestly, considering how casually your group took its reservation time, it's not inconceivable that you might then linger at the table...

                                          2. re: invinotheresverde

                                            I've been to places where there was no crowd for the later seating because the later seating was the last seating (ie. you kept the table for the rest of the night) and reservations were required for it. Anyone walking in for the later seating without a reservation was turned away. And if your reservation was for 8pm, then your table sat empty from the time the later seating began until you showed up. That didn't mean those places weren't popular, but it did result in the appearance that they weren't full at certain popular times.

                                    3. just out of interest OP if the restaurant had had a no incomplete parties can sit policy what would you all have done? Would the 4 of you have sat at a 4 top and called #5 and told them not to come, or would you have all waited at the bar or in the entrance until 6 .30 and had a 45 minute meal assuming the restaurant would have been able to accommodate you at that hour?

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: smartie

                                        I hate to take the side of the customer over the restaurant in these type of postings, I really do, but in this particular instant and in a fairly narrow aspect of the evening I'm going with bink.
                                        1st, if there was a no seating incomplete parties policy, the restaurant would probably have missed out on 5 meals as bink's group would have had to go elsewhere or, at a minimum, cut out the (very) late arrival (yeah, maybe they might have been able to fill the spot with other customers... I'll give you that).
                                        2nd: I agree with just about everyone about showing up late for ones reservation and I also have no sympathy for the "poor guy" having to rush his meal but...
                                        I also believe the server was being a complete douche at the end of the meal and I also believe (since everyone else is OK with speculating, I figure I'd do a little of my own) that the server was pissed off about the late arrivals and maybe the possibility that, as long as the OP's group stayed seated, there would be no turnover of one of his/her tables and therefore one less tip at the end of the night. That's actually understandable from a servers perspective but really unacceptable from a customer service perspective.
                                        The OP's party violated several restaurant rules of etiquette but the restaurant smartly still held the trump card with the 7:15 deadline. That the restaurant decided to play that card when there was no need to... yeah, I'd call that vindictive. The OP makes pretty clear that they would not have had any problem being booted out if there appeared to be any need for their table and it's because of that that I side with bink on the bad taste that was left with them. In the end, the restaurant lost nothing - except a customer. Sometimes being right can still be wrong.

                                        1. re: bobbert

                                          Or, they actually needed the table. We'll never know.

                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                            Agree with invino. Just because you didn't see any reason they would need the table, doesn't mean there wasn't one. You agreed that you would vacate the table at 7:15. You arrived late. If you felt rushed, it was your (your party's) own fault. Sorry, but that's how I see it. Saying the restaurant kicked you out at 7:15 merely to be spiteful, when they didn't need the table, is a bit far-fetched. Perhaps they had a special request for *that* table? Regardless, you agreed to the time frame, so it's kind of silly to complain about it after the fact because you decided to change the terms to suit you, and the restaurant wasn't going for it.

                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                              Very true and one of the main reasons we’ll never know is that no one thought it worth the 10 seconds for an explanation. Would it have been that difficult to say something like “…we’re sorry but we still need this table at 7:15 so we can set it up for a 7:30 reservation”? I guess they don’t HAVE TO explain anything. I guess they don’t have to smile or say “thank you” or ask how my meal was either. As you say, we’ll never know EITHER way whether they needed the table or not. Whatever the reason, there is still no excuse for the server to be rude or "vindictive" (sometimes it’s just a “vibe” one gets). In the hospitality business there are hospitable ways of saying “no”, “the chef can’t do that”, “we need this table”, or even “you’ve had too much to drink and it’s time to leave”. Often, the patron is very wrong and, reading the original post, I think it’s fair for anyone to say this table was at best “difficult”. That still does not make it OK for the server to be rude or vindictive – I believe that’s the “vibe” the server put off. Maybe far-fetched as purple-bot states but bink wasn't the only one who got that feeling. Sometimes you just 'know" when something doesn't feel right.

                                              1. re: bobbert

                                                Yes, it's possible there was a negative vibe given off by the server. Frankly, she probably hated the OP's entire party due to the casual stragglers, the chair situation, not knowing if the other guest was coming and once he was coming, not knowing when. As someone who waited tables, I know I would've hated them and it's not always easy to put on a happy face.

                                                The thing is, if the OP's party had simply been considerate and arrived on time, this conversation wouldn't exist. Actions have consequences. You show up late, the staff hates you and you eat a rushed meal. I bet if the first four people hadn't sauntered in between 5:00 and 5:30, the restaurant would've been more flexible. Mutual respect.

                                                Also, bink hasn't specified what the server said to them, other than a reminder that they still needed the table at 7:15. I'm just not understanding how this is rude or vindictive. Did she throw the check on the table? Remove drinks they were still drinking? Toss their coats at them? Bring their keys from the valet? Completely strip the table? Keep trying to pick up the obviously unpaid check? There are lots if ways to be rude to a table you want to leave. So far, I haven't heard any.

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  Oh, I’m sure the server hated this group. I tended bar many years ago and hated a lot customers. My daughter is a server in two places and she often hates someone each night. My son is a chef and he… well he hates everyone in the front of the house, customers, servers and managers alike. The thing is, my most obnoxious customers thought I loved them. The ones my daughter hates often request her. My son always honors special requests - which he hates doing – and often hangs out with the FOH people. It’s all part of what people in the industry do. I’m very much OK with the OP being hated by the server. This group, no matter the reasons for being late, etc. was a big pain in the ass for the server (sorry bing) BUT in the restaurant business, unless your food is so wonderful that you can shit on customers and still fill the house (there are places that do this – I don’t frequent them), you have to put on a smile and deal with customers as politely and professionally as possible. There are times where a customer crosses the line and has to be dealt with rather ruthlessly but I don’t think the OP ever came close to that point.
                                                  As far as any overt rudeness on the part of the server (throwing check on the table, tossing coats, etc.), one doesn’t have to do any of that to be rude. You can probably read a transcript of all the actual words spoken and still not find rudeness but we all know that just the tone of ones voice or a “look” can communicate a lot and that’s what appears to have been the case here. Honestly, I really have little sympathy for the OP except, at the very end of the meal, with the information available, I think the server handled things poorly.
                                                  Other than that, I agree with you on everything.

                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                    sometimes people are just overly sensative-rudeness is often inferred only because the person doesn't get their way

                                                    1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                      ingloriouseater I agree. Another factor that can make people assume rudeness on the part of another person is if English is not the other person's first language or if they are from a different culture. Indian English for instance can often sound very blunt or even rude, but usually no offence is meant. It's just how people speak. The restaurant is Iranian no? So maybe that was an issue.

                                                      Overall, I think the OP should swallow their pride and accept that perhaps they were at least partly at fault. I hope that doesn't sound too harsh, I do not mean it to. The thing is that it was the OP and their party that caused the problems due to varying degree of lateness. It's a shame that the OP feels the staff were unfriendly about it, but at the end of the day sometimes it becomes hard to keep patient when dealing with customers who are late, have difficult requests, etc. They did serve you all on time and the food was delicious so overall I think you should just shrug this incident off.

                                                      As for being asked to leave at 7.15pm, well you did accept that when you booked. As nice as it would be if we could always be forgiven and have special treatment extended to us when we make mistakes, it is not always possible. We have no way of knowing if another party showed up at 7.30pm, so there is no use speculating and assuming that the restaurant lied about needing the table.

                                                      Shrug it off, smile and go back again to enjoy the food that you obviously do like. And next time try to be on time ;)

                                              2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                I agree with others that it was poor planning on the part of the OP+ party but also less than stellar service by the waitress. However, since the OP+party agreed to vacate the table by a certain time, they can't then complain about it.

                                                If they are the only ones in that part of the restaurant and they were being held to vacating the table by 7:15pm, perhaps the waitress was trying to close that section. Possibly so she could end her shift and go home?

                                          2. If I was planning on having a reasonable-length dinner, not drawing it out too much, I'd appreciate the restaurant letting me take the 5pm-7:15pm slot with that caveat. Sounds like, given your group's timing issues, this wasn't a good option for you, and that the rush had more to do with a late arrival than an imposed departure time. Can't totally fault the restaurant for having a lot of tables empty at 7:15... You know diners with reservations don't always arrive when they say they will :) Also, diners don't always clear out when they say they will, so there was probably some buffer built in.

                                            All that said, some places just don't know what hospitality is, so while the problem doesn't seem evident from the details you described above, that doesn't mean there wasn't a real problem with how you were treated.

                                            Hope you all find a better spot next time!

                                            1. Hate to tell you, but the restaurant was absolutely right and you were very wrong. If you have a reservation at 5PM you show up at 5PM. They told you you had to be out by 7:15 which was over two hours...certainly long enough to have a very pleasant meal. I won't even go into the 6:30 arrival!!! I am assuming that they have two seating's a night and that is how they schedule them. The tables were still empty because they were clearing away the first seating and setting up for the second. You owe them a apology, not them to you.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Mother of four

                                                Have to agree - a whole other thread has been done and probably will again about late people and their sense of entitlement (or should I say lack of consideration).

                                                  1. re: Linda VH

                                                    I honestly have a big problem with so many people thinking it is all them!!! Do they ever stop and think?? Most likely too self centered!!

                                                1. Wow. I must be eating at different places from the bulk of the responders. I can completely understand the showing up on time thing. A restaurant sets aside a table for you based on when you state you will be there. They estimate the time it takes for a meal, and do their second seating from there. What amazes me is the "you must leave by 715pm" thing. I've never ever encountered that. I've never been given the bum's rush from a restaurant if I "exceeded" their time limit. That's odd to me. I didn't think my reservation was good for only X number of minutes. All I can say is...WOW...
                                                  Now, I can see if one member may or may not show up and hasn't called, it might not be reasonable for the restaurant to hold that chair for someone. I can see why they wouldn't want to have a table for six seating four people. And there should have been a coat rack for you to put your coats on, negating the need for an extra seat as a coat holder. And, you gotta admit, your friend who was 90 minutes LATE should have really just ordered the dessert to catch up with everyone else. I can't believe that person ordered a full meal at that point. Didn't he/she hold up the dinner enough as it is? That person really could have been more aware of their lateness and just stuck with dessert.
                                                  There has to be a bit of give and take between the restaurant and the patron. You have a reservation for 8pm, you may have to wait for the table to clear. Usually that isn't too long. At the same time, be on time for your reservation. But...please leave at 715pm? Very, very odd.
                                                  I don't know if I'd return, and if they are THAT busy, they clearly don't need my business in any event. At least, that's how I see it.

                                                  29 Replies
                                                  1. re: freia

                                                    They were made aware of the time restriction when they booked. They had every right not to accept it, but they chose to.

                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                      I understand that, just simply expressing amazement that one is given a "time slot" and then BOOM its out the door! That to me is very very odd but then again, I probably don't go to those kinds of restaurants! And like I said, it really could have been handled more graciously on all sides. The guests should have been on time and they didn't need an extra seat to put all of their coats on even if it was offered up the the restaurant (which is odd to me, you want a table for 5 that's what you get, not a table for 5 plus one for coats). The late guest really should have stuck with dessert not with ordering a full meal 90 minutes into the reservation. The restaurant could have been less aggressive with the Bums Rush if the restaurant wasn't full nor busy. Odd situation all the way around.

                                                      1. re: freia

                                                        the 90 minutes late guest shouldn't have come at all, the reality is that most dining experiences take between 90 minutes and 2 hours max...lingering for coffee on a 1st seating is not usually allowed (thus the out by time restriction)

                                                        1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                          So, my question is this...is it usual to be asked to leave from a restaurant? I mean, if you've had dinner and they say would you like coffee or tea and you say yes, and take your time, will a server actually ask you to leave if you've lingered too long in their opinion? Not being confrontational, just never even thought this would/could happen! is that common? :)

                                                          1. re: freia

                                                            Some restaurants have "seatings," usually two an early and later--say 6 and 8:30. If you reserve for 6, you are usually told that the table is yours until say 8 or 8:15, at which point you need to vacate the table so they can set up for the second group, who stay until closing. It's not common, but it's not strange either. (Some places may have after dinner drinks at the bar.)

                                                            1. re: escondido123

                                                              Yup, got the two seatings thing down...but I've never been told I have the "first seating" and must vacate by 8pm for example. Very interesting. I'll call up and say I'd like a table for x and they say what time and I say 6pm and they say great, see you there. Not "ok but you have to leave by 8pm". Now the usual is that we'll be gone well before 8pm so I've never encountered the "Its 815pm ow you have to leave" from the staff. What I've seen is like a Bell curve, you know, some dine and run, most take around 90 minutes, then a few will linger past. And this is when you get there for, say, an 8pm reservation and you wait for 20 minutes at the bar til your table is ready. I had no idea that it was usual to be asked to leave! :)

                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                You're not going to restaurants with seatings, then.

                                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                  Perhaps not, but the question still remains. Has anyone ever really been asked to get up and leave? All I've heard is theory -- 2 seatings second one at 8pm, maximizing profit and so on, but would a restaurant actually ask a group to get up and leave? When is the "right time" to do this? 15 minutes grace? 30 minutes? 5 minutes? Does this actually happen on a regular basis.

                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                    if i was rude enough to require a grace period or plan to hold a vigil at my table or occupy wall street even though i was quoted an out by time, i would expect that a waiter would thank me and present my bill about 20 minutes before my out by time.

                                                                    1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                                      Still doesn't answer the question. Has anyone actually been told to vacate their table at a restaurant? And has anyone really been quoted a "must leave by" time as a routine procedure at a restaurant? Other than the OP of course LOL.
                                                                      I must be going to the wrong restaurants, you know, those ones who actually seem happy to see a client, serve great food, and don't rush you out the door the second you've finished your meal....I'm sure someone will say "well they CLEARLY aren't the starred or best restaurants", but hey, I'm all about a combo of great food and great experience. And being given an expiratory time on a table doesn't make for a relaxing nor pleasant dining experience IMHO (EAT for God's sake EAT.....we only have 7 1/2 minutes left on this table!!!! Aw CRAP where is our server????? I have 85 seconds left, I really could chug down another coffee...)

                                                                      1. re: freia

                                                                        Yes, at sushi yasuda. While not told to leave, I was told that if I wanted dessert we would need to order now since we only had 15 minutes left.

                                                                        1. re: donovt

                                                                          WOW....just...wow...;that must have been disconcerting...I remember having breakfast at a local place (8am) and we lingered so long (it was well past noon) so we just stayed and ordered lunch! Such a great day, so much fun!

                                                                        2. re: freia

                                                                          Freia, no one is talking about being rushed out "the second yu've finished your meal" except for you.

                                                                          If if you are at a point where you are asked to leave (and this is done a lot more subtly than you apparently like to imagine), you have been given ample time to eat and enjoy your meal and at that point, are just unnecessarily tying up a table by using it as your personal clubhouse.

                                                                          I've been to restaurants with timed seatings. I've never been asked to leave, because it's never ocurred to me to be so rude as to overstay a timeframe I agreed to.

                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                            I think the OP was talking about being rushed out in a not so subtle way...so that was why I asked the question...has anyone been ever told to leave? In response, donovt in essence was (you better order now before we ask you to leave)...so that actually WAS my question. Has anyone actually been told to leave, as in personally "your time is up"? And see, that's the thing...Ive never been given a timeframe outright as in "ok you have a reservation for 6pm and the table is yours until 8pm". So that was the other part of my question -- is it common to be given a timeframe for your meal? It kind of sounded to me, if you read donovt's post, that he/she wasn't aware of a timeframe, just that when it came time for dessert he/she was told to make it quick because they had to be gone by 715pm. And that doesn't kind of fit in with your scenario -- that he agreed to leave by 715pm and were being rude staying longer. So my question was actually pretty simple when you think about it. Just amazed that it would happen, and wondering if it really happened in practice.
                                                                            Its kind of funny...we as patrons will go to restaurants with glacial service and SLOOOWWW kitchens and wait patiently, sometimes long beyond what is reasonable. But a restaurant won't wait patiently for the odd patron who may be running late to leave in their allotted timeframe and will actually ask them to leave...
                                                                            I guess at the end of the day, the patron votes with their feet, so problem solved so to speak!
                                                                            I love my local restaurants! Never had this problem...

                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                              Yes, I've been told at the time of booking a reservation or if walking in without a reservation that the table will be needed for another reservation at 8. It never struck me as odd or rude, nor did I feel like I was being rushed.

                                                                              I've never been asked to vacate a table, however like many others have said, I didn't stick around until the point of being asked. I do think the server handled it poorly in the OP and could have said something with a bit more tact.

                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                I was aware at booking that there was a time limit and was gently reminded with 15 minutes left. If we had decided to get dessert, I'm sure we would have slightly gone over the time limit. We decided to have a couple more pieces of sushi instead. To be fair, this is at a sushi counter, so slow service and kitchen problems really wouldn't be an issue.

                                                                                I have no problem being told my time is up if I'm aware of a time limit ahead of time. The OP knew there was a time limit and had finished eating when the time limit came. I don't see how they were forced to rush. If they rushed through dessert, it appears that it was because they arrived late.

                                                                                1. re: freia

                                                                                  I was aware at the time of booking that there was a time limit. They gently reminded me with 15 minutes to go.

                                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                                    Perhaps it's a regional thing. Don't know where you live, but in NYC pretty much the only place where one can camp out for an entire morning without getting the stink eye is a coffee shop like Starbucks -- and maybe a slow, slow, slow diner on a weekday.

                                                                                    And to answer your question, yes, I've been told numerous times when I booked a reservation that I needed to vacate by a certain time (generally I have 1.5 hours - 2 hours to enjoy my meal). In fact, it just happened a couple of days ago. I've also been told to leave when my party has taken up too much time (this is when they don't tell us that we need to vacate by a certain time prior to eating). This generally happens when the group tends to be larger as larger groups end up taking longer than a 2 or 4 top. Of course, they do this in a polite manner -- eg. would you mind please enjoying yourself by the bar or lounge because we need this table right now. I don't have a problem with it. Restaurants are in the business of making money; they need to turn over tables. Patrons sometimes have to realize that it's not all about them. As long as I find it reasonable and done politely, I find it perfectly acceptable.

                                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                      Sometimes, there is a bit of latitude in the hours of table occupancy. Recently (well, it was 11 mos. ago), we secured an early seating at Restaurant Daniel, and mention was made of the second seating. With that in the back of my mind, we went ahead with the full tasting menu, and sommelier's pairing, but I kept thinking about the upcoming seating. The service was spot on, with no real pauses, but by the time that we finished, it was just after 11:00PM, and the restaurant was quite full. We did not mean to "camp," but the courses kept coming and coming, as did the wine. I even asked our service captain, and she whispered "don't worry. We're all having fun, aren't we?" I certainly know that WE were.

                                                                                      Still, I have been squarely on both sides of that issue, and other than some observations, have no real "answer" for it.

                                                                                      I have gone so far as to tell the reservations agent that we dine slowly, usually need a lot of table space, even for just the two of us, for the myriad wines, and ask if that will be an issue. In every instance, where I have asked, there have been none. However, in a few, where I did NOT ask, there have been. Yeah, no real answer.


                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        I generally find that in 3 Michelin starred restaurants like Daniel, that they will rarely say there's a time limit or enforce it. I mean, isn't that part of what you're paying for? They're probably also more likely to keep a few tables open for such instances as yours than have every single table booked back to back. With that said, I had a 9:30P reservation at Eleven Madison Park a few years ago. Arrived on time. But because of lingering diners we had to wait about 45 minutes for our table. They took us to their lounge area so we could start our amuse bouches and canapes. Because of good company, we didn't mind and had a fabulous dinner and left the place at 3:30A. But I can see many people being pissed off about not being seated on time.

                                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                          That could well be correct. We do not make it to NYC, as often as I'd like, and we usually are doing restaurants, like Daniel, Per SE (only once) and Le Bernidine, so there could well be differences.

                                                                                          Recently did an early seating at Gordon Ramsay's @ Claridges, and it was the same - we were there all night, with zero pressure, but then did Gordon Ramsay's Maze, and were asked if we would re-seat in the lounge, and they offered to comp our dessert wines. We declined the comp'ed wines, but did re-seat, until business was finished. They made it nearly seamless.

                                                                                          I suppose that it just depends on several factors - the restaurant, how booked they are, and maybe other unknown factors?

                                                                                          Your experience with the reservations is much better than my mentioned experience. Had they had that level of class, I might have judged them less harshly, than I did.


                                                                                2. re: freia

                                                                                  yes, i have been quoted out by times (especially on nights like new years eve) and no i have never been kicked out for going over that time-because i had the good sense not to be rude and think i owned the table for the night. i understand that the next reservation doesn't want to wait for the table they reserved because someone felt they needed just a little bit more coffee...usually restaurants allow enough time as in the case of the OP's statement that they had the table from 5pm to 7:15. 2 1/4 hours should be plenty of time in that style of restaurant...the standard in the old days of fine dining was 3 hours and the OP's restaurant choice is certainly not in that style of restaurant. The OP stated that some were there at 5 but others at 5:30 and one even at 6:30 and have the nerve to complain that the 6:30 arrivee had to rush to eat 3 courses.

                                                                                  If you want another coffee, go to starbuck's your time is up here, you are the weakest link-good-bye, you're fired, you've been voted off the island....seacrest out...however you want to describe it...there are other's waiting behind you for your seat...

                                                                                  if one wants to linger i suggest a later seating....

                                                                                  1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                                                    I thought it was odd that someone 90 minutes late would actually order dinner, then be aghast that it would arrive with dessert...I totally get the usual table time thing, I've never really gone over that personally and I know at my usual places that if there is a line waiting for a table, well, I really should go if I've finished. I've never been asked to leave either. On the other hand, never had a best before time. I guess you learn something every day!
                                                                                    Oh, and your post raises another question...if you have a place with a second seating, is there an assigned time too? I could definitely see people being asked to move along at the end of the evening at closing time, but are you given a "meal time" for a second seating?

                                                                                    1. re: freia

                                                                                      Here are links to a few restaurants that offer two or more seatings:

                                                                                      It is also very common on busy holidays to have two seatings, especially New Years Eve when the first group usually leaves by 9 and the second one rings in the NY.

                                                                                  2. re: freia


                                                                                    A while ago, but back when I was dating I remember going with a young gentleman and getting lost in each other's eyes or something. Eventually the owner came over and basically told us we were adorable, but he needed the table, and would we please leave.

                                                                                3. re: freia

                                                                                  There are numerous threads about this happening right here on Chowhound, if you search.

                                                                                  I personally would give a 5 minute grace period, assuming the diner was made aware of the time restraint when the reservation was made.

                                                                        3. re: ingloriouseater

                                                                          I too had no idea that it's a regular practice at some places. The only time I thought restos would do it is, let's say, they have a reservation coming in at 8:30 and are also offering the same table for 6pm, but someone calls really needing a 6:45pm reservation, so they explain, "well, we'd be happy to make an exception to accommodate you, but please understand your table is booked starting at 8:30."

                                                                          Why is the two-seatings system different from a system of staggered reservations? The restaurant still has to make sure to get people out the door in time. Just curious.

                                                                          1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                                            staggered reservations ensure that the kitchen doesn't get hit all at the same time and you will see empty tables throughout your dining experience. that is when walk-ins get upset because they see empty tables and figure they should get them. this doesn't maximize the revenue potential as does the seating times scenario.

                                                                  2. It's not uncommon in the theatre district in London to be told you have the table until 10pm when the theatres empty out.

                                                                    1. So wait... your party didn't show up on time for a 5:00 reservation, and then you had to eat quickly because they told you beforehand that you had to vacate the table by 7:15. They stuck to their end of the bargain -- the problem was that you didn't uphold your end. You had 2.25 hours to eat your meal, had you and your party shown up on time.

                                                                      I fail to see the issue here.

                                                                      1. Bink,

                                                                        Two thoughts, and from the same person:

                                                                        We had somewhat similar at a fine-dining restaurant, where one of our party was delayed. The rest of the party ordered, and the late-arriving party only ordered dessert, that matched with where the rest of the diners were, in regards to timing. Though we had just ordered all desserts, and two more bottles of rather expensive wines, we were told that we must vacate the table, just as we were inking a rather large deal, and that the bar would be unavailable to us. Luckily, I had access to a private club, just a half-block away, and we departed with our wines, against the restaurant's protests on taking our wine, which they claimed had to be consumed on-premises , though no seats were available. I instructed them to tell the police that I would be at George, if they wished to pursue my taking my £ 600 worth of wine.They never showed, and the deal was sealed.

                                                                        Now for the "other side" of things: we had 9:30PM reservations at a fine-dining restaurant, and had confirmed. We arrived at about 9:15PM, and were told that it would be awhile. We waited until 11:30PM, for a table to open up, and then were informed that the kitchen was closing immediately, and that we only had a very few items, that we could order, and had to be out quickly, as they wanted to close. It appears that the 8:00PM diners lingered for many hours.

                                                                        Needless to say, we have never gone back to either restaurant. Different sides to about the same story.


                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          I remember having a similar experience in LA. They asked us to leave in the middle of negotiations so we tucked the Calvados under our jacket--told them to put it on the tab--and headed to Malibu. We worked it out with sand between our toes.

                                                                          1. re: escondido123

                                                                            Yes, sometimes one has to improvise a bit. At least we were walking... [Grin]